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The holiday season can bring a lot of joy as well as a lot of added stress. Emotions run high during this time of year—we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to purchase that perfect gift or cook that perfect meal, spend more time with family and the challenges that brings, or the opposite during the pandemic—face spending the holidays alone or without beloved friends and family.
So how can we manage the added stress? We’ve got 10 easy, holistic, and free ways to keep your body, mind, and soul calm and relaxed this holiday season.
The holiday time is a great time to connect with a community. Whether this is friends, family, or a community group, it’s good to spend time connecting with others. If you don’t have the ability to connect with others in person during the holiday season, spend time writing cards or connecting with people on social media. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone that you may not have connected with for awhile.
A daily meditation practice is important for mental stability. I find that there are some great apps out there to not only help hold you accountable but also guide you through your meditation practice. My personal favorite is Insight Timer because I can connect with people meditating all over the world.
- Practice Yoga
This could be a great opportunity to check out that local studio or start your own home practice. Not only will yoga help you stay grounded, but you’ll feel better overall by continuing with a regular exercise practice. Keep up on your yoga practice during the holiday season, and your body will thank you in January.
- Take Time to Breathe
When we get wrapped up in the “go go go” mentality of the holidays, we may sometimes forget to breath. Our body reacts to our breath. For example, when we are scared or stressed, we will take short shallow breaths. When we are relaxed, we’ll naturally take long slow deep breaths. Our breath is like a lifeline to our mind. Make sure to take time throughout the day to practice deep breathing. Another good practice is “alternate nostril breathing” or Nadi Shodhan Pranayama or any Pranayama you may prefer.
- Spend Time Journaling About What You Are Grateful For
This is a perfect opportunity to remember what the holiday season is really about. Spend some time journaling about what you are grateful for this season. You can keep a gratitude journal and record 3 items you’re grateful for everyday. Take time to reflect anytime you need a “pick me up.”
- Moon Gazing Meditation
Moon gazing meditations is a concentration meditation that is great for connecting to natural circadian rhythms. During the winter it’s probably best to sit inside and find a window that allows you to see the moon. Focus on the moon and take nice deep breaths. Anytime the mind wanders, bring your attention back to the moon. You can also try this full moon guided meditation from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
- Refrain from Indulging, and Don’t Abandon Health Habits
You’ll pay the price later, so try to avoid indulging on food that you know your body will react poorly to. Take a step towards treating your body with gratitude and kindness by feeding it food that will nourish and heal versus food that will cause dis-ease. This includes food that is high in prana, or life force, which includes fresh, organic, fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes. Try to stay away from sweets, coffee, alcohol, overly spicy food, fatty food, and processed food. Eating healthy food not only helps the body feel better overall, but your mind will thank you, too. At the same time, don’t beat yourself up or judge if you do indulge. Acknowledge, forgive, and move on. It is the season
- Set a Schedule and Create Space for Yourself
Setting a schedule or keeping a consistent schedule is important to stay within the natural circadian rhythms of life. Ayurveda’s Dinacharya practice helps to achieve optimal wellness through connecting with the internal body clock. It’s important to be awake before the sunrise and by 6:00 am. A morning routine should include maintaining hygiene, exercising, bathing, meditating, and eating breakfast. Breakfast should be a light meal, lunch should be the largest meal and around 12:00 pm, and dinner should be lighter and two hours before bed. It’s especially important during the holiday season to keep the consistent routine and make time for your daily routine to stay in balance.
- Set Boundaries and Say No When Necessary
Just how setting a schedule is important, so is setting boundaries. A lot of times we end up just powering through the holiday season without realizing how depleted that we become. When your body gets out of balance, it will certainly tell you. That is why so many people rush to the gym come January 1st. It’s important to then set clear boundaries with work, friends, and family. Do not over commit during the holidays, because it’s likely you’ll pay the price in the long run. Don’t say yes when it means jeopardizing your own well-being.
- Practice Mantras
Mantras are powerful repetitive chanting sounds, typically in Sanskrit, that allow us to access the unconscious mind and adjust the frequency of our being. It’s possible to listen to mantras, chant mantras together in a group or with a recording, or alone through a mental practice. Just like meditation, mantras can help to focus the mind. Mantras can help with healing through the release of emotions. Mantras and chanting can rid bad vibrations and help realign with good vibrations.
Om Namah Shivaya is the sacred chant which is offered to Lord Shiva, the supreme reality. Om Nama Shivaya is the six lettered powerful mantra of the Hindu god. Chanting this mantra daily for 108 times helps to attain great peace of mind and self realization.
The same chant, Om Namah Shivaya From Popular Art of Living Bhajan by Rishi Nitya Pragya says, “Traditionally, it is accepted to be a powerful healing mantra beneficial for all physical and mental ailments. Soulful recitation of this mantra brings peace to the heart and joy to the [Ātman] or Soul. Sages consider that the recitation of these syllables is sound therapy for the body and nectar for the soul [Ātman].”