I imagine you’re right in the midst of bustling activity that surrounds this time of year, you can just feel a shift in mood, energy, activity and expectations.
Happy or hectic, peaceful or chaotic, we’re all in this together.
Now that you’re reading this, I invite you to take a moment to pause, brew a cup of your favourite tea, coffee or pour yourself some water and come back.
Settle into your seat, gently lengthen your spine, feel your feet on the ground, take a soft, deep breath in allowing your jaw to relax, then soften even more allowing your shoulders to melt as you take a long sigh out. Take two more long, slow breaths.
The week before Christmas can be especially challenging for many as we frantically finish up projects and deadlines, juggle family responsibilities, prepare to travel, host family gatherings. We may also be caring for or deeply missing loved ones.
In times like these, it’s important to draw on your self-care resources in order to find a way to stay grounded.
Here are 3 tips to help you manage stress during the holidays.
When you crave a moment to yourself. Step outside, take a short walk, find nature, climb a hill, find a view if you can. Nature has a gentle but powerful way to help you to come back, shift out of your head and see life from a different perspective. The fresh air will help clear the cobwebs and once again you can practice taking deep, mindful breaths.
Noticing and navigating transitions has become one of my most effective practices.
I used to spend most of my days rushing from one task to the other. I could lose track of time while absorbed in an important task, then the children would come home and I’d struggle to switch gears, drop everything and cook dinner.
Have you ever managed to fit in your yoga, fitness or running practice and then rush back to work, grabbing lunch on the go?
Or when pressed for time and caught in traffic, feel tension rise and willing the lights to turn green?
I’ve managed to turn red traffic lights into a mindful transition practice so much so that it’s become a healthy habit and completely automatic. Whenever I come to a red light, I consciously feel my feet on the ground and take a few slow deep breaths until the lights turn green. It’s amazing how this simple act of presence and awareness can bring you back, shift your mindset, allow time to gather your thoughts before moving on.
How do you work with transitions?
Notice the transition, the point where you leave one task, activity, project and move on to another, regardless of whether it was planned, interrupted or unexpected.
Notice how it makes you feel. Maybe there’s tension in your body, a slight pressure in your chest. How is the quality of your breath?
Learn to recognise the transition. Feel it. Can you name the sensations as they rise in your body? Try bringing your attention to where they show up and give them space.
Remind yourself to realize you are in a transition point. Breathe. Feel your feet underneath you.
Transition has movement. There’s a shift. Be present as you move through this. Try not to follow the thread or jump away, stay steady, stable and connect. Do you notice less anxiety and discomfort?
There’s a level of uncertainty with transitions but you know where you’re going to, so simply trust the process.
The Gift of Giving Back
If you can’t face the crowds, noise and stress of last-minute shopping but want to give a meaningful gift to friends and loved ones, consider offering them the chance to help change lives by giving those in need the gift of a sustainable future.
Below are two wonderful, life-changing causes run by friends. Together we can make a difference.
Anouk Prop is a yoga teacher, who I first met in Thailand and Ambassador of Yoga Gives Back, the yoga charity that gives back to India through microcredits and education for poor Indian women and children, She’s currently visiting the orphanage Deenabandhu Trust, Chamarajanagara, India as a psychologist & yoga teacher as she does every year, helping orphans reach the sky.
Kara Forte is a dear yoga student of mine who works tirelessly to actively support the Cedar Foundation Tanzania in order to improve health and education as well as promote equality and life prospects. This holiday season they’re helping to bring the gift of clean water to the people of Kamanga, Tanzania.
I hope these tips help to inspire you and help to create ease. What tips do you have to alleviate stress during the holiday season? Please share and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.
Warmest thoughts for a very Merry Christmas and a relaxed, stress-free holiday season.
One of the real pleasures at this time of year is the opportunity to appreciate and celebrate connection.
Thank you for being here, I welcome and value our connection.