Now to start, one of the best ways to cope is to take breaks and take them often. Ask your host for a “safe room” you could go to if things get overwhelming, slip off to the bathroom for a few minutes every so often, find a quiet corner, and wear your noise cancelling headphones. Take your day-to-day strategies with you into the holidays as much as you can, making adjustments as you can. They may be harder to implement or less effective because the anxiety is just so high, but it will help to have these familiar habits at the ready.
Next, for some yoga pose-related tools. I’ve outlined below a few yoga poses and breathing techniques you can do just about anywhere – though I recommend borrowing a bedroom for some privacy, extra space & pillows. These techniques typically help relieve anxiety and allow our nervous systems to calm down from overstimulation.
Your breath in the following sequences is important, and an important part of your toolkit in general. The breath gives us an in, an access point, to our nervous systems.
Taking slow, mindful breaths can help to relieve some of the anxiety and strain we feel physically, like when our bodies send us into a fight or flight response in inappropriate situations (much like when that really loud family member is at it again). Often our brains can take the hint from the body, and that can aid us in calming down.
I like to aim for equal breathing: count to 5 on your inhale, pause, then count to 5 on your exhale. Another variation to try might be exhaling slightly longer than the inhale: 5 count inhale, pause, 7 count exhale, pause*. You can breathe in and out through the nose, or in through the nose and out through the mouth. Or, really, you can do whatever variation of breathing works best for you, as long as you’re paying attention and being mindful of the breath.
*Counting to 5 or 7 may feel like too much, so please adjust so your breathing feels comfortable. A 3-count works just as well as 5.
Before we dive in, I have to, have to, have to mention that everyone is different. What works for me or someone else, may not work for you. Please be mindful of your responses and your body, and if anything hurts or even just doesn’t feel right, come out of the pose or make an adjustment based on what you feel. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trainer, teacher, or someone else for help in addressing your specific needs!
Now to the Yoga Poses!
For a short, anxiety-relieving sequence you can do almost anywhere (especially on those bathroom breaks!), try these poses:
Standing or seated side stretches