The Holidays are fun, exciting, celebratory and usually so busy for many of us. From balancing work, family, parties, shopping, there’s a lot of running around trying to get everything accomplished within the next few weeks. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed! Listed below are ways to find peace, happiness and a boost of good health amidst this holiday “storm.” Slow down, savor and take it all in. They are simple and yet so effective.
Keep Calm and Drink Tea
Yes, a warm cup of herbal or green tea can invoke calmness like nothing else. Tea is soothing, flavorful and in many cases very good for your body. Depending on the tea, it may be excellent for your digestion, your respiratory system, your sleep, your mood, your focus and many are packed with phyto-nutrients and antioxidants to heal the body and counteract stress. For some, it’s an excellent way to greet the morning or an afternoon stress reliever or an evening peaceful ritual. Regardless of the time of day, it can offer incredible healing at a time that you need it most. Grab your favorite mug, take a deep breathe, sip and melt into serenity.
Take a Yoga Class
For those that practice yoga regularly, you know undoubtedly this is good for your body, mind and spirit. For those that don’t, you are missing out on an ancient, holistic exercise. Yoga not only strengthens muscles, burns calories, makes you leaner, increases flexibility, decreases injuries, it eases physical and emotional stress. What I love about yoga is that it has opposing yet stabilizing effects on both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. It’s invigorating and de-stressing at the same time. I take a yoga class at my gym almost every Friday. And I will tell you that it is the best way to end my sometimes stressful week and the best way to begin my weekend. This special exercise practice will continue to surprise you in more ways than you can imagine.
Not in yoga? That’s okay. Then follow the next tip…
Indulge in Nature
Go take a hike! Or simply a jog or a walk. Walking in a beautiful environment with trees and other lush green foliage – and even better along a stream, river, creek, lake or ocean is incredibly rejuvenating for the body and soothing for the mind. Plants and trees release an abundance of oxygen into the air as they absorb the energy from the sun and convert carbon dioxide and water to produce glucose and oxygen. Additionally, bodies of water invoke more negative ions in the air that help to improve breathing, increase serotonin production (better mood), enhance mind clarity and stimulate alpha brain waves which help to promote calmness, focus and a higher level of awareness. I think we could all benefit from that.
Playtime in the Snow
If you are fortunate to live within driving distance of snow, take a road trip! Or depending on where you live, it might be right outside your doorstep. Take advantage of this wintry time of year and give yourself a mental and physical break in the powder. Go sledding, build a snowman, go skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, throw a large snowball at someone you don’t like (just kidding, don’t do that) or whatever snow exercise/ritual you love to do. Then when you return to “normal life” back home, your body is rejuvenated and your spirit is renewed to tackle life’s responsibilities.
Indulge…But not too much
Just because it’s the holidays, it does not give you a “hall pass” to overindulge and go to the other extreme. Depending on your age and metabolism (if you are over 40, things are much different!) the body loves to store extra calories and fat in a short amount of time and unfortunately much longer to burn that extra storage later. The New Year is just around the corner and comes up pretty quickly. If you attend a holiday party and you went crazy with the appetizers, desserts and adult beverages, good for you! Just hit the gym or go for a brisk walk the next day if you can. Consume more vegetables, fruits and water the next day or even better – practice intermittent fasting. Balance the indulgence scale so that the actual scale doesn’t frighten you come January 2019.
Meditation – Fitness and Strength for your Brain!
Many of you already meditate so I don’t need to sing the praises of its benefits. For those that have not tried meditation or haven’t been consistent, you have the unlimited opportunity to positively change the way you think, feel and live your life. While there are many methods of meditation, many of them have a similar outcome. To feel more relaxed, focused, peaceful, live in the present moment, accept life’s ups and downs, practice more compassion for self and others and have a more positive outlook on life. Additional physical benefits include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, reduced cortisol, less anxiety, deeper sleep, easier breathing and healthier relationships with others as reactions to stress are lessened. Meditation doesn’t have to follow a specific pattern. You don’t need to be sitting in a certain position on a pillow or with your hands/fingers a certain way thinking of “nothing” for hours like you might presume. Just 5-10 minutes a day upon rising in the morning or retiring at bedtime can be extremely beneficial. If you need help getting started, there is a plethora of meditation audio books, DVD’s, CD’s, podcasts (not while you are driving!) that can guide and lead you through. The long term results are nothing short of transformative and profound.
T’is the Season for Christmas Entertainment
Welcome and embrace the wonderful holiday entertainment! Engage in your favorite pastimes or do something different this year. Go see a play at a local theater like “A Christmas Carol” or a dance production like “The Nutcracker” or any live musical event. Drive through the best rated Holiday decorated neighborhoods. Watch your favorite Christmas movie for the 25th time. Buy a new Christmas album that you’ve never listened to and get a different spin and tune on the traditional songs. Go ice skating, fall a few times and then sip on warm hot cocoa or a tasty coffee beverage afterwards. Like a birthday, this only comes around once a year.
Put Your Creative Santa Hat On
Who says you have to spend a lot of money at at local store or online buying gifts? Instead, make one if you can carve out some time. Paint a piece of pottery at one of the many local places that has everything set up for you. Get creative with unique crafty items and decorate a mason jar and fill with goodies or a candle. If you have the amazing talent to sew, you are blessed! Make a quilt, a hat, an engraved stocking or a pair of warm socks. Woodworking is a fascinating, unique and talented skill to have and is usually so appreciated by the recipients of those creations. Bake something you’ve never made like a homemade rum cake or peppermint fudge. Personally created gifts are the most special. And most people remember them fondly for years to come.
Volunteer From the Heart
There are many people in this world who are far less fortunate than we might be. Many are homeless, struggling with their health, lost loved ones or they might be alone and isolated away from family and friends. For some, this is not a joyful time of year and instead triggers feelings of sadness. Volunteering your precious, limited time in your local community to serve those in need might just mean the world to someone, truly brighten their day and put a smile on their face. What’s in it for you? So much! Giving to others gives you a sense of purpose, teaches you new skills, boosts confidence, decreases depression, uplifts mood, reduces stress, keeps you mentally and sometimes physically active, helps you socially through developing new friendships, extends your life’s journey and elevates your sense of well-being and self esteem. Volunteering provides an immeasurable difference in the lives of others and to your own life as well.
Wishing each and every one of you an abundance of joy, good health and serenity during this special Holiday season!