The Key To An Enjoyable Holiday Season? Just Breathe.

The Key To An Enjoyable Holiday Season? Just Breathe.

Let’s talk about holiday stress.

You’ve probably heard that cortisol is what your body produces in response to stress. Cortisol gets a bad rap, but it’s an important metabolism and inflammation regulator, and it helps you react in a crisis. You know that fight or flight surge? That’s cortisol, plus adrenaline and norepinephrine.

But when you’re always stressed, your adrenal gland is constantly releasing cortisol. And that’s a literally ugly phenomena. It’s bad for your general health (hello depression, irritability, high blood pressure, body aches, bone density loss and inability to focus), and it contributes to premature aging and other icky issues (thinning skin, acne, muscle wasting, hair loss and excessive facial hair). It’s also a major insomnia culprit—and one day we’ll talk in greater detail about the importance of beauty sleep.

During the holidays, there are a million places to be, and you’re probably three days behind on your to-do list. You want to enjoy family and friends, but you’re simultaneously wired and tired, and you can bet your adrenal gland is overloading cortisol into your bloodstream. How do you keep things in check?

What if we tell you that in a few minutes a day, you can lower cortisol, improve disease resistance, increase your emotional intelligence and boost your quality of life? 

Meditation actually changes the structure of your brain—for the better! It increases gray matter, which is responsible for seeing, hearing, impulse-control, speech, emotions and processing. And gray matter decreases as we age, so meditation is a great way to stay youthful in mind and body.

Maybe you’re thinking, ok, I’m sold, but how do I do it? 

Great question! There are many ways of meditating—so many, that an internet search can be overwhelming. 

If you’re just starting out, try this simple, three-minute breathing meditation:

1) Set a timer.

2) Sit up straight. Lift your neck, lower your shoulders, and make sure you’re not leaning forward or flexing your lower back and pooching out your rear. 

3) Close your eyes and breathe naturally. 

4) Focus on your breath, and notice the motions in your body. Inhale and exhale. Observe your shoulders, your belly, your ribs.

5) If your mind wanders, don’t get frustrated. Simply return your attention to your breath. 

If you do this daily for a week, we’re certain you’ll notice a positive change in your anxiety level. Eventually you’ll notice external results, too—more radiant skin, less hair-loss in the shower. 

A week in, try to set the timer for five minutes instead of three. Your eventual goal should be about 20 minutes of meditation a day. But if it takes awhile to get there, or if you never get there, keep at it. Research shows that tiny amounts of meditation are better than none, and the longer you practice, the stronger the benefits. 

Think of it as exercise for your mind, as crucial a part of your daily routine as going to the gym. And if you need an interruption-free place to meditate, try our infrared sauna. It’s a great place to detox your body and mind!  

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Posted in: Elizabeth Adams MD, Healthy Holiday Tips

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