Christmas stress relief happens inside your body. That is where Christmas stress (or any stress)begins and exists, and imagining a soothing summer scene, with a beautiful oak tree gently moving in the breeze will relieve your stress chemistry, but only for as long as you hold the image.

If you switch your thoughts back to your Christmas stress schedule (that is right, we can build our own stress schedule), the stress chemistry will come right back.

But switching the thought to switch the feeling is the essence of stress relief at any holiday, or at any moment.

Can Norman Rockwell Really Help Christmas Stress Relief?

Schedule Laughter?

Absolutely, when I look at a Rockwell picture, I feel a sweetness which is associated with a memory from another time in my life, a time when there was no need for me to worry about uncertainties.

I could trust that the adults around me were handling those, and I could explore the world.

And as an adult today, charged with handling uncertainties, I need to remember to manage my stress response, which I can now do heart beat by heart beat.

The one thing that most stress experts fail to say is that I will feel relaxed remembering a Norman Rockwell painting only for as long as I have that image going in my head, which is not usually for more than a few heart beats, because I need to make sure the kids are up and on the school bus, fed, and dressed warmly.

Now if I go from that morning schedule to thoughts of my business schedule for the day, I can keep a cortisol and adrenaline chemistry going in my body, then add in some thoughts about Christmas shopping, and I get another few drops of adrenalin and cortisol going, ect.

The key to christmas stress relief is not in the passing of the holiday, or in wondering about how I am going to get it all done, but in changing my thoughts and internal chemistry and I say you should schedule that.

Schedule Christmas Stress Relief?

If you are laughing at that thought, then I have accomplished part of my goal.

But why not laugh on schedule? Why not breath deep on schedule? Why not have a fond memory on schedule? Why not think a thought about gratitude on schedule, or say a prayer?

Christmas comes on a schedule, doesn't it?

Our stress response is designed to prepare us physiologically for a situation where we could be in grave danger, and when the danger has passed, we are supposed to rest.

We do not get a rest these days from schedules and commitments unless we build them in, it seems to me.

So I am saying that we should take brief periods of time to change our inner chemistry from adrenalin and cortisol to DHEA, which is the anti aging hormone, and I think we should do that every five minutes for two heart beats.

That makes stress relief a habit, and a habit that feels good too.

Lucky for us that research has given us a tool to do that, from the biofeedback folks at the Institute of Heartmath.

Research about neurocardiology, a field that has been around for about 15 years, which studies the heart's own nervous system, has given us some tools we can use to regulate the time between heart beats on any given heart beat.

Nobody knew that the heart had its own nervous system, a brain of its own, which is big enough to learn and make decisions independently of any other brain I have.

I can train my heart to beat very coherently, which changes the adrenalin and cortisol bath I have in my body to DHEA, the anti aging hormone on any given heart beat.

That is right, even though I have a busier schedule than usual during the holidays I can cue a coherent heart rate on any given heart beat no matter how many Christmas presents remain unwrapped or even unbought.

The idea about two heart beats, and believe me, you will feel the difference in two heart beats, is that there is very little that I do in my life which will cause danger to me or anyone else if I switch my attention inside to the area around my heart and imagine my children's faces there for two seconds.

In fact, my body, after a few practices, will say to me that it would like to switch to a different chemistry, could I please take time for my heartmath, now?

And there is an added bonus too. Heartmath or heart rate variability biofeedback is a wonderful tool for your brain fitness.

Increase your neurogenesis and neuroplasticity heart beat by heart beat.

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Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?

When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.


Have a question and want to talk with a therapist? Call 815-316-2621 for Julie Logan, LCSW, RN. 7121 Windsor Lake Parkway, Loves Park, Illinois 61111 jlogan7264@myway.com

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