Several weeks ago I found myself bubbling over, my physical body wanting to explode. Just about anything could about send me over the edge. Since then things have gotten so much easier, the anxiety is less, my body and mind feel more in sync and my anger has subsided. See, since the holidays began I have felt everything speeding up, just as I’m learning to slow down. I’m feeling pulled in two different directions. My body and mind are trying to get the hang of just “be-ing” and I’m thrust back into the world of “do-ing”. Yep, it’s the holidaze. In which people are frantically running around doing whatever we always find the need to do. The traffic is worse than ever and those driving are ruder than I remember them being, the kiddos are wild and lawless and my interactions with people outside my front door are short and full of misunderstandings and all of this is making me crazy. Maybe it’s hormonal as I don’t remember dealing with these heavy emotions this time of the year in the past or it’s something in the air, yet, either way, I’m not willing to sacrifice three months of my family’s sanity and enjoyment let alone my own this season. And guess what? I don’t need to. I’ve spent the past two weeks following the hints below religiously and these tools really helped me lower the stress during what can be one of the most joyous times of the year, you’ve got my word.
First and foremost breathe and breathe deep. Conscious breathing has become such a critical part of my life and I notice the difference on so many levels when I’m not taking deep breaths. There are three main types of breathing: clavicle breathing, lung breathing and belly breathing. So ask yourself what type of breathing do you typically do on your day to day? Obviously, clavicle and lung breathing don’t create an ideal situation for your mind, body or spirit. Shallow breathing will result in you hanging out in fight-flight mode a lot more often than you’d like. It’s all about the belly breathing here. Allowing the breath to expand your belly completely, maybe the first few times place your hands on the low abdomen and notice how this feels. Increasing oxygen in the body will allow us to think smarter and also help to calm the nervous system.
Thinking about what I’m putting in my body has been huge for me. As of lately, I hadn’t been eating enough and then I would find myself starving or I would end up eating all the wrong foods. It’s the holiday which to me typically means eat whatever the hell you want covered in chocolate and go overboard on the dairy. Although, eek, my body does not respond well to either of these scenarios so I’ve been working with limiting my consumption and being much more mindful about whats going down the hatch. Remind yourself that in order to stay grounded you will want to limit your sugar and caffeine and simply check in with your body before you consume the entire plate of sweets in the office workroom or at that holiday party. Food is your fuel so maybe switch out your coffee for tea and watch the carbohydrates especially if you aren’t planning on burning the calories. Also, eat lots of in season root vegetables to ground you to the earth. Apples and pears taste delicious this time of year and are also in season so enjoying my favorite fruits also helps me feel more at ease. Also remember the beauty of moderation, it’s not about not enjoying the piece of chocolate or the piece of pie but understanding that eating foods that are colorful and in season as well make for a balanced body. It’s not about not enjoying a glass or two of wines at the dinner party but know that excess alcohol could leave you feeling depressed and not very alert the next day. A balanced body will contribute to a balanced mind.
Sleep and rest enough. Hibernation is a very real thing in nature and long ago we were more closely integrated into the rhythms and cycles of nature. Its winter (or almost) and it’s important to allow yourself to do less and start reserving some energy. Giving yourself permission to slow down can sometimes be a challenge. Some of the ways I have been cultivating more rest recently are earlier bedtimes and warm baths, naps; which are always welcome and soothing and also doing what it is I need to do to recharge your battery. This might be read a good book or do some quiet breathing exercises. We tend to get maxed out over the holidays with obligations and also things we are really wanting to do, remind yourself that if you are feeling overextended you have the permission to listen to your body and say “no” or tell yourself you can buy a prepared pie to take to the party opposed to working for hours in the kitchen. By recharging your battery and also by evaluating what you really want to do will guarantee that you’ll be better company when you do decide to make your rounds.
Moving my body is also a key component in me bringing myself back down to earth these past few weeks. Maybe I do a few yoga poses or a whole sequence, take a walk in nature or dance to some jams with my kiddos or by myself. This time of year, stuck-ness is not uncommon, the idea and feelings of stuck-ness in life, jobs or relationships are often a metaphor for what’s really happening in our bodies so I always encourage myself to move when not energy is feeling stagnant and unpleasant. We can really use movement to balance our physical body with our energetic body as well. It’s not necessarily about kicking your own butt at the gym but it’s more about finding some pleasure in movement and listening to what your body really wants by choosing a level of intensity that matches your needs.
Limiting my screen time has been so helpful. Strangely my phone died on me over a week ago so what this meant was no face book updates and message reminders, no desire to text anyone my every move nor the constant checking my email. This has become a complete blessing. I’ve taken t his opportunity to distance myself from my laptop as well and I will say it has made a huge difference in my mental state and I’ve noticed how much richer my real life interactions have become in the past week or so. Some might think this seems impossible to get away from your phone for a bit but it’s about baby steps for some of us who rely heavily on these devices and also admitting to yourself that you may have a slight addiction. Maybe tucking our phones away after dinner for the rest of the night or maybe one day a week or several hours on the weekend we take a hiatus from screens. It will make a difference; and will allow you more time to focus on other endeavors in your life, whether it’s being more present with your loved ones, reading a great book, writing Christmas cards, sparking your creative juices or simply just “be-ing”. It’s been a really powerful reminder for me this holiday season about how I want to show up in the world and made me really aware of my anxious states and how the news feed can sometimes feed that and over stimulate my nervous system.
Lastly, be sure to remind yourself what the holidays are all about. What makes the holidays so special to you? To me I’m reminded that less is more this holiday season. I’m noticing my temptation to buy, buy, buy and I’m not following the thread. I’m thrilled to spend the coming weeks in nature with my family, eating un-rushed meals with family and friends, singing and dancing more than my son can stand and I’m really looking forward to relaxing without a hint of an agenda now that I’ve cured my holirage.