Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tracey's Tips for Combating Holiday Stress


This year as we move into the holiday season I am reminded why yoga is so important. They should really call it the "Stress Season," shouldn't they? Not only do we spend money that we may not really have to buy presents that people probably don't really need, but we then travel, sometimes vast distances, to spend time with family members who we allow to push all of our buttons. And then there's all the unhealthy food: the cookies, the pies, and the spirits! Come January we have to start "New Year Resolutions" to get back to the person we were a mere few months prior.

But you know what? I love the holidays. I really do. I love seeing old friends and family that I haven't had time to spend with as much as I'd like to during the year. I love the look in someone's eye when they open the perfect gift that I purchased or made just for them. I love dressing up and getting out of my yoga clothes for a day or two! I love sitting around watching naustalgic holiday tv specials and movies. I love silly holiday songs because I know all of the words and I have permission to sing them out loud! I love eating good, home-made, well, anything! I simply enjoy this time of year. And, as a simple suggestion, if you do have family commitments or kids or holiday parties to attend to, then why don't you just decide to enjoy them too?

Tracey's Tips for Combating Holiday Stress

So, maybe your holiday season stress is good stress. Or maybe not, but either way, most of us deal wtih more stress this time of year. Here are a few tips to help you through this time of year:
1. Don't forget your weekly yoga practice. Can't attend your regular classes? It's ok, because we have them every day of the week, in two different locations. Make time to nurture your body, mind and spirit. And if you can't make it in to the yoga studio, then pop in your favorite Yoga DVD or just unroll your mat and do whatever comes naturally.

2. Take a hot bath. Have sore muscles from lugging around heavy shopping bags? Fill up the bathtub with hot water, pour in some sea salts, and soak for 20 minutes. Add your favorite essential oils for an even more enjoyable experience.

3. Plan a night in. Whether you are going to a family member's home or hosting your own gathering, it's "go-go-go" time. Pencil in a night just for you during the holiday week to curl up with a good book, watch a favorite old movie, meditate or journal. One night in will refresh you for the next several nights out.

4. Donate. Nothing serves the soul more than donating your time, clothing, food or other items to a worthy charity. Of course this doesn't have to happen just during the holidays, but doing a little karma yoga is a true gift that keeps on giving - for those less fortunate and also for yourself.

5. Give practical gifts. Some of us have forgotten the intention of this time of year. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to give someone a heart-felt gift. Let your creative side come out - make something for someone to show your appreciation. Write a poem, song or letter to a special friend. Bake vegan cookies to bring to a holiday party. Have a "white elephant" party (re-gifted item) with family and friends. Remember that this is a time of year to celebrate friends & family and that comes from sharing our light, not from draining our pocketbook.

6. Breathe. That's right. Deep breaths. Standing in a long line at Target? Hear your teachers voice and breathe deeply. Lost the only good parking spot at the mall? Take a big surrender breath and let it go. Working overtime to make a little extra money for holiday gifts? Take a 5-minute bathroom break, sit down and breathe (nobody's going to ask you why you took so long). Remember that deep breaths calm the nervous system, allow the body to absorb more oxygen and carbon dioxide to maintain energy, relax the muscles around the heart and other organs, and helps the body eliminate toxins. And the best part is, it's totally free and available to you every moment of every day.

However you choose to spend the holidays, honor and celebrate each other safely.