My Apple watch measures my heart rate and heart rate variability amongst many other things, and usually when I’m relaxed and calm, I don’t care about the data, but when anxiety is rearing its ugly little head again, I start to pay attention to the heart data of which I can never remember which is better, up or down.

Once Google refreshes my memory, I realize all over again that a decrease in my heart rate variability or HRV is like a little tap on the window of my racing mind saying “hello” it’s time to breathe, time to hum, time to meditate, time to slow down!

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But it’s so hard to slow down when life’s coming at you from all directions, coupled with a mind that lives in the past, the present, as well as plans for the future. That is, more precisely four weeks in to the future, as so many of us sprint towards the festive season finish line.

I don’t know about you but the last time I sprinted was when I was 10, however even though I haven’t physically sprinted in decades my heart sure has. And it is this racing or “holiday heart syndrome” as it’s known that reminds us that we’ve sped up with too many stressors whether physical, mental or both, and slowed down on our simple healthy practices if we have any, like meditation or slow deep belly breaths.

So as the frenetic pace of the season begins, be mindful of your heart this holiday season by being kind and considerate to yourself and others. Instead of stressing your heart out by rushing around and racing to the finish line, remember to carve out some time for you.

Be still and quiet, even if it’s just for 5 minutes a day and remember to breathe slow deep breaths. Doing this simple holiday heart meditation will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, regulate your emotions and increase your mood, which means you’ll be both calm and kind during the holiday chaos. All things we certainly could do with during the festive season.

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Holiday heart meditation

  1. Sit down in a quiet space.
  2. Close your eyes and just allow your thoughts to come and go, to ebb and flow like a leaf on the current of a shallow stream. As you watch your thoughts float here and there imagine sinking gently beneath them in to the calm water.
  3. Feel your ears fill up with water, muffling any noises.
  4. Hear your heart beating, rhythmically pulsing in your chest, keeping you alive.
  5. Breathe deeply into your belly. Inhale for a count of four, hold four, exhale four, and finally hold four again. Follow your breath for ten repetitions or continue on if you desire.
  6. Once you are ready take a few deep breaths, slowly open your eyes, move and stretch gently and enjoy a more relaxed day.
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