For most people, the holidays are a stressful time, whether it's because of the flurry of activity, the holiday gigs, the gift buying, or the long encounters with family with questions like, "What will you do with your life/job/relationship/freelance life?." Our body can stay in a place of sympathetic dominance if we're not careful, and our body can get out of whack if left in that state for too long. Here are some of my favorite things to keep it together during the holidays.
1. Get enough sleep. Easier said than done, but all too crucial. Too many days of diminished sleep make me enormously grumpy and dysfunctional.
2. Can't sleep well? Try constructive rest- a practice of introverting your attention and resting for any time. Here's my girl Brooke Thomas' introductory video on constructive rest.
3. While this might not be a good time to start a brand new meditation practice, it's always a good time to breathe and breathe mindfully. I love this chat with Aline Benoit from August to get inspired. Try a few moments of breathing in a quiet place where you can't be disturbed if you feel the pull of holiday stress derailing your sanity. It's ok if a million thoughts come up! I love Maira Kalman's illustrations on meditation, because she basically details her thought process and how difficult it is to focus.
4. Go for a walk outside if the weather permits. Walking is a critical movement nutrient that is often neglected in our exercise/sitting regiments. I find that my mind is always more collected after a walk.
5. Take a warm bath if you bathtub isn't too gross (or you don't share it with a bunch of people). If you find your body in pain from playing, sitting, or sleeping, a bath is a lovely way to get blood flow into deprived tissues and decrease stress.
6. Don't eat all of the sugary things. I love baking, but I also know that if I eat everything I bake, I will be grumpy and on a sugar crash. If people bake for the office, class, or studio, it's ok to say no, or just eat a little. You don't have to eat every sugary thing that manifests in your workplace! (Sometimes that's chocolate, cookies, sweet bread, and cakes all in one place!)
7. Do a little self-massage. Even if you only have a tennis ball or lacrosse ball, roll out your feet or your upper back against the wall. A little bit of self-care goes a long way, especially if your feet are trapped in boots or high heels all day.
8. Even if there are many things to stress about during the holidays (relationships, finances, careers, etc.), take a moment to be grateful for what you do have and consider giving back, even if that's just a donation to a food drive, playing for a senior citizen center, or being kind to shopping clerks. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way in improving morale, even if things aren't the way you wish they were.