It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving just passed! So it's official, the holiday season officially begins.
At the end of every year, we have the last couple of months and feel the need to push through. It's common to have a complicated relationship with the holidays. I love the holiday season. I love smelling the warm spices, seeing the shimmering lights down every street, and taking some time off from work. But it's also a really big time to feel lonely, broke, scattered, and messy. As beautiful as this time of the year can be, it can be exhausting and chaotic.
There are aspects of this season that can bring stress, anxiety, fear, and disruption into our lives. We’re thrown out of our usual routines and into the plans we’ve made for the holidays. Stress weaves into any travel we need to do or preparations for what's ahead. Whether you have a big dinner to prepare for or simply see family under stressful circumstances, there’s usually zero time you can take for yourself.
No matter what you encounter in the next month or so, can you allot time to be with yourself? I know it can sound selfish, but I truly believe you cannot show up for anyone else in your life if you don’t take care of yourself first. And the holidays shouldn’t be any different!
In a time where we’re expected to come together, give presents, eat a lot of food, and have a restful and indulgent time - this doesn’t always leave you feeling your best.
There’s so much that can come up in the holiday season. One thing that should never be rattled is your relationship with yourself. Continue to do what makes you feel good, whether that’s going on a run or taking yourself out for a fancy coffee. You need to keep the relationship with yourself strong.
Give yourself alone time amidst all the chaos this holiday season.
Here are a few of my favorite mindfulness practices that have helped me when I’m stressed and low on time…
Box Breathing, or Sama Vritti (Even Breath)
This breath is called Box Breathing because you can easily imagine a box. Inhaling draws the first box’s side on the left, then you hold the breath and the top of the box is drawn, the exhale draws the right side of the box going down, and the last hold completes the box’s shape. Sama Vritti is the name of the pranayama, or breathing technique, that you do with each breath. It's an even, equal breath in, and out.
Find a comfortable seat, preferably close to the ground (on a pillow or on the floor)
Close your eyes or find a soft gaze on something in front of you, slightly downward
Take note of your breath - recognize how you breathe without controlling anything
Now begin to deepen your breath, making each breath in a little longer than the last
When you’re ready, begin
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds (4:4:4:4)
Continue this for 8 rounds and increase when you’re ready (you can increase by 1, or shift into something different like 6:4:6:4 or 8:6:8:6)
When you feel complete, begin to let go of the counting
Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out
Return to your natural breath
When you’re ready, open your eyes and give yourself a smile :)
Move into the rest of your day with ease and balance!
Gentle Stretches (Morning Yoga Flow)
These are my go-to stretches when I need to ground and get into my body (and out of my brain)
Child’s Pose: knees wide, hips towards heels, forehead on the mat
Cat/Cow: inhale to open the chest (cow), exhale to round into cat pose
Hip Rotation: create knee circles in your tabletop position, breathe into your hips
Downward Facing Dog
Upward Facing Dog
Forward Fold: bend your knees, the upper body is heavy
Mountain Pose: close your eyes, one hand on your belly, one on your chest, ground into your breath
Happy Baby (featured below): move freely, breathe into the hips
Now you’re ready to take on the rest of your day!
Grounding Journal Prompts
The following prompts will give you ways to stay grounded and firm with your boundaries
How are you feeling? Identify each emotion and explain when/how that emotion came up
What place can you go to mentally that makes you feel safe?
Get super specific, what does it smell like? Who else is there? How does your body feel?
What’s been causing stress or anxiety lately? Can you take any steps to get out of the situation or change things to get through it with less stress?
Is there anyone in your life that’s causing more stress? Can you give yourself more distance from them? What can you say to yourself to ease your worries?
What can you do for 5 minutes today that makes you smile?
What can you do for 2 minutes today that makes you feel safe?
I encourage you to do any of these exercises to give you a sense of ease and relief in this time of stress and hustle. The constant movement must be balanced with stillness. See what time you can carve out of the day to just be with you.
You'd be surprised what impact it can have on the rest of your day.