The holidays bring with them much joy, celebration and connection with loved ones for many people. For others, it’s a time of discomfort and difficulty. And often infused through it all can be a sense of urgency and busyness with all the frenetic energy about, culminating in feeling frazzled, fried and muttering obscenities to the guy trying to butt in line in front of you in traffic.
Sometimes we look so forward to meaningful moments with loved ones and friends, but find ourselves not present when the actual event arrives as we’re so busy thinking of all the things left to do or how much sleep we’re missing. Staying mindful over the holidays (http://www.angelawarburton.com/2013/12/11/mindful-moments-over-the-holidays/) is an art. Staying healthy, and balanced is part of that.
In this article I’m trying to focus on some of the simple physical things you can be doing to take care of yourself (mind, body and spirit) this holiday season so you’re able to be more present to all those moments that bring meaning to your life and connect you with the ones you care about.
Try to start your day with warm food that has both healthy fats and protein in it. This helps kick start your digestion and helps sustain your energy and brain function throughout the day. Some simple suggestions include:Veggie omelette with goats cheese, chia cereal (link), left over Quinoa grain with coconut or olive oil, and some nuts and seeds, Rye Toast with avocado and hard boiled egg
Cut back on coffee or stimulants
Brutal suggestion I know when you’re just trying to get through the day! But decreasing coffee helps take the stress off our adrenal glands (yes coffee stimulates your adrenals to release cortisol and adrenaline, which is taking our energy rather than giving us energy. Over time this can contribute to adrenal burn out).
Coffee can also directly impact our sleep quality as well – even if you just have one early in the morning! Many people notice that by eliminating coffee, their sleep is deeper and they don’t have to get up in the night to urinate or stop waking throughout the night and decreases their night sweats.
Stretch before bed
Just 10 minutes of light stretching can decrease tension in the body, calm the mind and help prep you for a deeper and more restful sleep. Focusing on forward bends to stretch out the hamstrings and wide leg forward bends (seated or standing) and side bends help stretch out the liver and gall bladder channels which are the systems where stress and frustration tend to build up. Think of slow gentle stretching with long deep breaths holding each stretch for a minute or tow. Don’t force anything and try to focus on your breath or breathing into the areas you feel tension and imagine a gentle letting go and releasing as you breath out.
5 minutes of meditation goes a long way
Even taking 5 deep slow breaths at moments throughout the day can deeply calm the nervous system and help get your body out of that fight or flight state. Try this one minute meditation for those of you who are new two it. It might not seem like much, but over time it really adds up!
Include a calming herbal tea before bed
Adding a herbal tea into your nighttime ritual can help your body wind down after a busy day and by picking a ‘bedtime’ blend, it helps to set your body and mind up for a restful sleep. Some great mixes can be found easily in the grocery store. Yogi Tea has a great blend or feel free to mix your own with some of the following herbs:
Vervain, catnip, skullcap, passionflower, chamomile, lavender, peppermint
Use aromatherapy to calm and revive throughout the day
Aromatherapy is a great way to get a hit of calm throughout the day. There are some beautiful stress reducing or calming blends out there but lavender, chamomile, rose (to open the heart), vetitver, citrus (for tension and irritability) are just a few. It must smell good to you so be sure to take a whiff before you buy!
I love saje products but you can easily buy the individual oils and make your own blend. Having a diffuser for your car that plugs into your lighter is a great way to infuse some calm into your running around. Using some at night time can also help you drift off into a peaceful slumber. http://saje.ca/stress-relaxation.html
Exercise helps us distress, calms our mind, helps us sleep better and boosts our immune system. Yup, all that. It can be hard for people to get to the gym or a class they might normally do, but just increasing walking – parking further away, hoping off the street car a bit earlier to walk the last few blocks or just taking a brisk around the block – all count as exercise. And when exercise is infused in your day, can make a significant difference in your wellbeing.
Leg exercise such as squats or leg presses are said to increase DHEA production (a “youth” hormone) which can lead to an uplifted mood and more energy. Just sayin’.
Rub your feet.
Rubbing the bottom of your feet can simulate acupressure points and invigorate your energy. Taking the heel of one foot and rubbing it until you feel heat the soul of your foot and then switching feet. Try to do this at least once a day particularly at times you’re feeling pooped and need a bit of a pick me up.
Be mindful at meals
Try to sit and avoid eating on the run. This helps us digest better, which means we absorb our nutrients better increase our energy.
Also try to include some cooked leafy green foods at least once/day and pick whole foods as often as possible. Whole food energy bars with nuts and seeds with natural sugars are great thing to stock in your bag or car for those times when you feel your energy dropping. Decision making is always better with stable blood sugar!
Remember why you/re doing all the running around. Remember the people you love and all the blessing around you. There is, as Tich Nhat Hanh says, you ALWAYS have something to be grateful for. For those who are triggered by the holiday season, either from painful past memories or being surrounded by a tradition and energy you don’t believe in or want to participate in, trying to be with what you do have around you. Living in a free and peaceful country is a great place to start. Health, a safe home, food in the fridge all simple things we so often take for granted. For more thoughts on mindfulness read more here. http://www.urban-wellness.ca/cultivating-gratitude/