by Dominique Antiglio
You have received yet another invitation to a Christmas party. Let’s start with two very simple questions. How much do you enjoy social occasions? How do they make you feel? For example, if you are naturally introverted, going to a party may cause you some anxiety. Also, worrying about what to bring, what to wear or spending too much money on presents can make you feel stressed.
If you notice that your energy levels are lower than normal, think about getting some rest. Start thinking about what events take priority and allow yourself not to feel guilty for not attending every one. This year, you can decide to allow yourself to focus on the way you feel and being in the moment. When you feel calm and connected with yourself, you may notice it is easier to relate to other people and interact with them.
Attending an Office Party
Do you dread going to a work ‘do’? Before becoming too anxious about it, try to step back and do some exercises to calm the nerves. Take a seat and keep your back straight. Close your eyes. Breathe in from your belly and, when you breathe out, let go of all the tensions and the need to make a good impression. Visualise feeling confident and comfortable, speaking calmly to others while keeping in mind the reasons you are there. Don’t forget that you don’t have to stay for the entire duration of an event – people have busy lives and they will understand if you have to go.
Attending a Social Gathering
While it’s tempting to be a wallflower and hide in a corner, take the opportunity to talk at least to one new person you hadn’t met before. Think about this as an exercise to build self confidence. Listen more than you speak and use the conversation as a way to learn something – maybe you can discover an activity that you would like to try yourself by asking the right questions. For example, at a party you could ask someone about their hobbies, holiday plans or even their new year’s resolutions.
Statistically, families tend to argue more over Christmas as they spend too much time together. Plan your days so that you can have some time out: you can go out for a walk to clear your head or volunteer to run some chores outside. Even taking the rubbish out can be a life saver! Also, remember that everybody may feel tired and irritable, so spreading a little positivity can go a long way. For example, pay a compliment to someone in your family who feels under-appreciated.
Do you fancy having an alternative Christmas? You could do some volunteering at a local centre, either by yourself or with members of your family. By being in a different environment, you get to interact with your family in new ways and you get to discover hidden qualities you didn’t know about.
How Sophrology Can Help
Sophrology is a dynamic relaxation technique that can help reduce stress levels through a combination of breathing, visualisation and simple movement. It does not require special equipment or a whole hour to practise, so it’s perfect for busy people.
A Sophrology session that you can do at home can be as short as 10 minutes. The exercises are very intuitive and they aim at using a calming breathing pattern to soothe and unwind. It’s much better to feel relaxed before you leave the house. To do this, instead of rushing out, take five minutes to regroup.
If you are feeling anxious or are worried about not knowing anyone, do this exercise: in a standing position, close your eyes. As you breathe in, raise your shoulders. Holding your breath, pump the shoulders up and down until you feel the need to breathe out and let go of the arms. Repeat three times then, keeping your eyes closed, notice the sensations in your body. You can allow yourself to tune into all the positive energy you have created by moving your body. Every time you breathe in, you are inviting positive energy in each system in your body. You can diffuse this positive sensation when you breathe out, visualising it reaching your skin, your organs and your bones, as if you are bathing in bright light or soaking up the warmth from the sun. Then, you can either take a seat for a minute or stay standing. You may notice that you start feeling a bit more relaxed, as if the movement has taken away the tension from your shoulders. Your mind may also seem clearer, less clouded by worry or unnecessary thoughts.
Thriving, Not Surviving
Whatever you do this festive season, remember that looking after yourself should be your number one priority. A daily Sophrology practice will help you feel centred and balanced so you will be less likely to get annoyed or frustrated. Most importantly, during the holidays you can decide to embrace a different pace of life, if you so wish, maybe by slowing down and enjoying each moment, noticing your environment as if it was for the first time, allowing yourself life’s little pleasures. As the year draws to an end, you can choose to have a less hectic schedule and prepare yourself for the new year.
- You can read about Sophrology and Dominique’s work at https://be-sophro.com.