Stay Balanced Throughout the Holidays with These Five Steps
The holiday season is notorious for being stressful. Future planning, lifestyle changes, new goals, get-togethers, and all the other unofficial-official end of the year shenanigans.
To be frank, just thinking about my schedule for November/December brings forth all of the feels.
The holiday season starts now, with Friendsgivings, End of the Year work parties, the actual holidays, and all of the other goals we’re suddenly compelled are a MUST to reach by December 31, 2019.
But don’t let the reason for the season fool you, despite the days off, the end of the year may not always feel like a vacation. During this time, when the sun leaves us early evening, and it seems like there isn’t a day on the calendar that isn’t booked, staying in balance feels nearly impossible.
My coping habits for stress don’t always tend to be the most sound, but luckily, along the journey I’ve picked up some great ways to help stay in balance through high-stress periods.
1. Get enough rest. It’s crucial you catch enough Z’s to help you get through the long days. The sun goes down before we can even clock out, and that can sometimes drag on the night time for what feels like forever. You sometimes can’t tell if one hour has passed or three. Setting a sleeping schedule helps you stay on track with getting enough restorative sleep to ensure better focus and mental agility. It’s a good idea to switch your screen into “Night Mode” once the sun goes down and set a reminder on your phone for when to start getting ready for bed. Stay away from blue light(from your electronic devices) for two to three hours before bed. This helps your brain’s natural circadian rhythm settle into a healthy sleeping routine.
2. Eat warm, whole foods and probiotics. Okay, so this is a big one. You REALLY are what you eat. No doubt about it! Your cells can only regenerate with the materials you feed it, so input=output. That’s why it’s so important to eat well!! Make sure you’re eating enough foods that are easier to digest in between all of those heavy holiday meals. This will take some of the load off your digestive organs and therefore help reduce the load of hormonal fluctuations. Eating soups and warm, nutrient dense cooked-foods when the weather cools down is a great way to lessen the amount of energy spent on digestion throughout the day, so you’ll stay sharper!
3. Drink plenty of water. Okay this is getting redundant, because you know this already, right?! Alas, we are intricate machines that need the basics covered to work properly. The way I like to picture it is that if you were a car, you wouldn’t expect to run smoothly with all the maintenance lights flashing. The same goes for your body! Getting enough water is essential for good brain function, and it’s a small but quite important factor in staying in balance during high-stress periods.
4. MOVE!!!!! It doesn’t matter how you choose to move your body, just do it! This is a game-changer. Your body was made to move. Movement is maintenance for the body. When we are young, we are constantly in motion. As we get older, we tend to move less and less. At what point in our lives do we decide that movement is no longer a priority? For a small selection, movement is integrated as a natural part of life from a young age and those values are carried out for the rest of their lives. For a large part of the population, however, movement hasn’t been emphasized as a dire NEED to keep us healthy. Or in other instances, people simply weren’t taught about movement and its effects on the mind and body. Move your spine, pump blood into your muscles, encourage energy and fresh oxygen to course through your body. Practice yoga, dance, run, lift weights, or do any of the countless other ways you can exercise. Just move.
5. TAKE DEEP BREATHS. I leave this one for last because it’s the one that has helped me the most. I actually didn’t realize how much I shallow breathe, until I became aware of my breath through breathing exercises. Most of us aren’t taught how instrumental the breath is for our mental wellness. It helps our nervous system relax into a state of rest and repair. Otherwise, the body can sometimes get stuck in fight or flight causing many physical symptoms and at worst, even disease. What I recommend to my clients is pretty simple. I think starting with an easy breathing exercise is better than expecting someone to create a meditation routine right off the bat. That way it takes the pressure of the thought of “am I doing this right?” and gets you on track for relaxation.
My favorite breathing technique to teach beginners is the 4-7-8 breath. First, you sit up tall either on the ground in a comfortable position with both sit-bones on the ground, or on a chair with your feet planted on the ground. I recommend placing your hands on your knees for grounding; feel the connection of your body underneath your hands. Close your eyes, and draw your attention to the point between your eyebrows: the third eye. Inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts.
Practicing these tips isn’t going to stop Tia Maria from asking you when you’re going to get married as you pass the stuffing, but they’ll at least be there to help her catch the mashed potatoes instead of these hands. Lol.
In breath and motion,