Relieve Holiday Stress: Whole Body Breathing

Taoist Breathing quote photo | Dianna Bonny Photography

I remember standing in the living room of our new home four years ago, two weeks before Christmas, feeling totally overwhelmed by the idea of tree and decorations. The move had taken everything out of me but, desperate for a sense of normalcy for my kids, I wrestled my holiday mojo out of thin air and brought the holiday to life.

There was nothing normal about the circumstances but I strongly believed that if I could reproduce a familiar version of our holidays past, it might keep us afloat. This was before I found breath work, meditation and all the woo-woo things I now have in my back pocket. If I could lean back in time and whisper in my ear, I would tell myself to step away from trying so hard to make things normal again.

I find more and more that life seems to be asking me to embrace a new normal, take risks and let go of old patterns.

A devoted practice of self-care needs to be the priority after loss so that the experience can be metabolized into the whole. This is especially important during the holidays, and often, letting go needs to be a part of that practice.

I recently did a webinar with Energy Psychology specialist, Paula Shaw. In it, we discuss dealing with the holidays when you are in a state of grief. The recording is here if you would like to learn a few wonderful strategies for thriving during what can often be an incredibly difficult time of year.

While a glass of wine used to be my favorite anxiety remedy, I am now a big fan of tuning in to what is happening in my body to regulate stress. This breath exercise can be powerful in bringing relief when you are in the grip of overwhelming circumstances.

Whole Body Breathing:

Sit comfortably in a chair. Cross your legs at the ankles, whichever way feels more natural to you. Then hold your arms straight out in front of you and cross your wrists, opposite wrist to your feet on top (So if your left ankle is on top, your right wrist will be on top.) Now, allow your hands to fold downward and meet palm to palm, interlace your fingers and bring your clasped hands inward and fold them across your chest. It should feel like you are hugging yourself.

Rest here a moment and really settle in. Find safety and comfort in your own hug. When your mind has dropped into a quiet space. On the inhale, touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth and on the exhale, drop it down to your jaw. Imagine the breath as a warm, golden light coming in through your feet and rising all the way up to the crown of your head. Gently inhale and exhale, allowing your body to become lighter and expanded. Try to do at least twenty breaths, fully present to each one.

I do this often, especially when I feel that familiar foreboding of holiday stress creeping in. By crossing the arms and legs in an opposite manner in this way, our body emulates the infinity sign, so energy flows effortlessly.

Here is a video to help.

I love this description of the benefits of allowing the breath in, from Spirituality & Practice:

“Calming the body of its tensions helps heal the body of its pain. As breath starts breathing through more and more of the body, it becomes a direct agent of healing, massaging and helping to melt any areas of tension it touches into and moves through. In the same way that a bodyworker’s hands are able to touch you from the outside in, a breath that keeps the body in unending motion massages you from the inside out, breath by breath, stroke by stroke. You can feel it working on you internally, probing into areas and recesses of tissues that the bodyworker can’t put her hands on. Everywhere the breath penetrates, every place it touches and presses into, it activates sensations and promotes the release of tension. Like a current in a river, confronting a logjam, the force of breath pushes up against tension’s walls in hopes of dissolving its barriers, turning tension in the body back into shimmer, and contraction in the mind back into presence.”

May the power of whole body breathing leave you shimmering and present.


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

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