あけましておめでとうございます！Akemashite Omedetou gozaimasu! Happy New Year to all of our members. I hope your holiday season had plenty of coziness and quality time with friends and family.
While the holidays and New Year can be a time of joy for many, it can also be a difficult time for many others, filled with the stress of travel or hosting, or a reminder of holidays spent missing beloved family who have passed away. A natural response to this is to find ourselves gradually overcome with worries or sadness, possibly dwelling on things that have happened in the past, or have yet to happen in the future.
To cope with this, I encourage my therapy clients to engage in mindful practices that draw the attention of the mind and body to the present moment, instead of the past or future. There are many ways to develop mindfulness, an active and open attention to the present, but one of my favorites is through breathing. By regulating and focusing on our breathing, our minds get a break from dwelling on distressing thoughts, and our bodies can begin to relax.
I teach a simple exercise called “4-7-8 breathing”, which goes as follows:
- Close your eyes (if you’d like) and relax your body.
- For 4 seconds, inhale deeply through the nose, letting the belly expand.
- For 7 seconds, hold the air in your lungs.
- For 8 seconds, exhale slowly through pursed lips (as if blowing out a candle).
- Repeat as desired.
A few rounds of 4-7-8 breathing is often all that?s needed to help us center and refocus ourselves when stress or emotions start to cause distress. And because there are no tools required, this breathing technique can be practiced nearly anywhere, and adapted to your needs and physical ability.
May we breathe deeply so we can welcome all the New Year will offer!
Questions? Feel free to email me at Spencer@pdxjacl.org