The holidays are in full swing. It seems before the turkey carcass was picked clean and the pumpkin pie was settling in the belly, shoppers were plotting their descent into the dark underworld known as black Friday and the impending holiday shopping season. The next several days and weeks are filled with “busy”, some welcomed, other “expected”. Want to get through the holidays with less stress? Read on!
Now, I am the first to admit I have a pretty simple lifestyle. I am at that phase in my life where I am labeled “the empty nester”. I work remotely from a laptop from wherever I can find wifi service in the world. I teach yoga to clean my mind and keep my body healthy. And I’ll smile at you even if I don’t know you (I love making new friends). My children, my partner, and my family are slowly coming to realize I give hugs, not gifts.
I have also stepped into the realization that we, as a collective society, have too much $hit. And we train our children and family members to think they need more $hit too. We live in a sickeningly consumer based society. Although we strive for capitalism, for the wealth it brings (to some) and the freedom it creates in our lives, there is no denying the role it has played in the culture we have in the world today.
So as a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, meditation guide, and all around good person, here to make your life a little easier, I want to remind you of some simple ways you can stress less and create more happy in your life. Although this is create with the holidays in mind, these practices can be applied to any time of year.
Self-Care - self-care is the most important gift you can give yourself, especially during the holidays. Aside from work, wrapping gifts, shopping, travel and getting caught up at work so you can take a few days off over the holidays, it seems there is nary a time for self-care. But you must make it.
Wake up 15 minutes early for stretching or a brief home yoga practice
Give yourself 15 minutes at night for quiet
Take a hot bath
Diffuse your favorite essential oil
Go for a 30 minute walk during your lunch break
Find a yoga class and show up, even if you stay in savasana the entire time
Time Out From Technology - Technology is taking over our lives. During the holidays we want to get in touch, share photos, send holiday greetings. This is all fine and dandy but give yourself the gift of less technology and focus more on whats in front of you, the people in the room with you, right now.
Eat Healthy - Local nutritionist, Ruth Clark, estimates that we gain 5-7 pounds during the holidays and indulge in more sweet treats. I know its hard to resist those tasty temptations but look for ways to infuse your day with healthier choices, especially if you are going to . family gathering.
Chow down on whole grains, vegetables, and fiberous meals
Make sure you eat breakfast before a big family dinner to curb cravings and over indulgence
Create low-fat, low calorie treats with fruits and veggies
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, curb cravings and keep your healthy
Each food high in fiber and protein which can help you feel satiated, longer
Get Enough Sleep - the average amount of sleep of humans today is incredibly low and it is impacting every aspect of our life and not in a good way! Get 7-9 hours of sleep to function the best the next day, and promote a happier, healthier you all year long. No one likes a grinch.
It’s Not About the Presents, Its About the PRESENT - It seems that society is so focused on gift giving. Televisions, xbox’s, technology, toys, laptops. But do we really need to buy more stuff, to give to people with already too much stuff? That’s a lot of stuff. This year try some different ways to give gifts:
Create your own holiday cards, what a wonderful way to get creative and drawing and coloring can be a lovely mindfulness practice - its also super fun with kids!
Donate your time to a local organization or charity like a soup kitchen, homeless shelter
Donate boots, coats, cold weather gear to local shelters and charities
Plan time with your closest family members to talk, sing, play games, watch your favorite holiday movies, visit a local holiday hot spot
Invite someone to join you who’s family is far away, the holidays can be a lonely time
Give the gift of family time like bowling, movie night, pizza night, game night - we need closer family and social connections more than every today
It is not about who has the most gifts, the biggest gifts, or spent the most money. It is not about maxing out your credit cards to make sure everyone has a gift. Ring in a new tradition to make the holidays about family, friends and giving back to those who are in the most need. Help create a world of strong family and social connections and compassion for those less fortunate. This is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and the world.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year. I hope these tips will help you reflect and remind you of what is really important.
I have not bought one single Christmas present, and aside from some obligatory secret santa and yankee swap gifts I intend to keep that way. My time will be spent cooking, caring, sharing and loving all those around me.
Happy holidays, whatever that means to you, and brightest blessings to you in the new year.