It’s that time of year again: the busy holiday season is upon us. Family gatherings, travel plans, airplanes, days off work, elaborate meals and breaks from our usual rhythms. The holidays can be accompanied by joy and rest from work. They can also be accompanied by a lot of stress.
We break our usual routines, the weather is chillier (maybe not in L.A.), the days are shorter and family gatherings abound. All of the above can lead to an increased load of stress on the nervous system, body, mind, and soul. So, how do we manage? How can we stay calm, balanced, grounded, and healthy during this busy holiday season?
I asked our staff to weigh in and share some of their survival tips for nourishing body and mind during this busy season. Here, I’ll share my favorite ten tips compiled from all of our staff.
1). Carve out time for you.
The holidays are a time marked by spending time with others. While this is valuable and important, it’s important to not forget about yourself. If it’s possible, finding just 15-30 minutes alone for yourself each day can be invaluable.
Carve out time for a massage. Take time to meditate. Maintain your exercise routine, where possible. Invite a family member to a yoga class with you. Sit quietly with yourself. Step away from family antics, holiday busyness, and overbooked travel schedules to spend time with your greatest gift: you.
2). Spend time in nature.
I recognize this may be easier to come by in Los Angeles this time of year but wherever your holidays may take you, even a brisk 30 minute walk a day can clear the mind, improve circulation, and alleviate stress. Weather allowing, try meditating outdoors or even just pausing to take a few deep inhales with that crisp winter air (or that not-so-crisp 80-degree weather if you’re in Southern California).
3). Try not to overbook yourself.
Something I’ve learned as I’ve grown older: it’s okay to say no. Often when I go home to Seattle for the holidays it can be overwhelming and exhausting with social gathering after social gathering and expectations to see everyone. Have you ever had that feeling you need a vacation from a vacation? In keeping in line with Tip #1, know it’s okay to say no to that extra happy hour or meal with family members. Enjoy the time you do have with your family, while honoring and respecting your body, too.
4). Make time to write (or another reflective practice that suits you).
Human Garage trainer Yari Ferrao recommends writing out what it is you’d like to experience this time of year and how you’d like to experience it. What are some things you would like to do differently? As we write these things out, this allows us to take more actionable steps towards reaching this goal.
Writing encourages us to be more present and decreases the likelihood that noise from the outside world will disturb our internal feelings of peace, calm, and joy. Writing is also a positive outlet to process your experiences, time with family, and experiences this time of year.
5). Have an arsenal of essential oils and CBD handy.
Especially when sleeping in a bed that isn’t yours, try an essential oil like Essential Oil Wizardry’s Violet Chill in the evenings. Rub this on your feet and chest before you sleep to aid in restful sleep, even outside your home. If you’re flying frequently, try carrying something like Lavender on you for the flight. Being mindful of those around you, try inhaling a few breaths of lavender before you board your flight.
Human Garage owner, Garry Lineham, recommends carrying Elemental Wizdom’s 7 Schools CBD Oil with you to keep your nervous system calm and out of fight-or-flight mode. CBD oil can also aide in promoting sleep and improve your ability to manage stressors that may come your way.
6). Sleep and sleep well.
Sleep is one of our body’s best ways to recover, relax, fend off colds and infections, and heal. Without sleep, we throw off most of our body’s functions, making balance a challenging endeavor and opening the way for pain and tightness in the body.
Keep in mind that even just one or two glasses of wine can disturb the body’s natural sleep cycles. If you find yourself struggling to maintain a normal night of sleep during the holiday season, one of the easiest habits to consider is alcohol consumption. If sleep is an ongoing struggle for you, refer back to tips five and seven.
7). Try one of these breathing exercise daily, especially to begin and end your day.
Try 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes before bed of deep, relaxed breathing into the belly. Exercises like these move us from fight or flight/sympathetic overdrive into rest and digest/parasympathetic mode.
Try inhaling for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four, keep your breath out for count of four and keep repeating this way of breathing for 3 to 11 min.
Breathing exercises aid in calming the nervous system, increasing focus, and minimizing stress levels.
8). Practice self-reflection in the wake of emotional triggers.
The holidays can be a time where we find ourselves triggered by old family patterns. Emotional responses can lead to physiological reactions and we begin to hold tightness and tension in the body, which can increase our likelihood of feeling pain. After all, our work here at Human Garage is about mind/body connection.
When you feel yourself triggered by a family member, our staff recommends trying to pause and notice what part of your body feels tense. Ask yourself: “When was the first time I felt this way?” As we recognize old patterns, emotional responses, and tightness in the body, this also creates space to release and let them go, allowing for you to experience this holiday season more presently and joyfully.
Old wounds can surface this season, especially. Memories of loved ones lost or strained relationships may be ever present. Practice gratitude this season, whatever “holidays” may or may not mean to you.
As with all things, refer back to #7. Deep inhales go further than you’d think.
9). Carry nutritional supplements on you, especially to support digestion after major meals.
Holidays are especially hard on our digestive tracts. Try carrying a digestive enzyme to take before meals like our QurEcology Digesqur supplement at Human Garage. For after meals, especially after a heavy carbohydrate heavy meal, try GlucoQur. This assists with digestion and prevents a large spike in blood sugar levels as you digest.
10). Remember: this is all about balance.
Dance. Play. Live a little bit. Enjoy yourself and the company of loved ones. Have a glass of red wine if you’d like it. Eat the pumpkin pie if it works for your body. Don’t beat yourself up for breaking out of your usual rhythms, habits, and routines. Rest when you need. Remember that balance, ultimately, is not about perfection. Staying aligned and balanced means listening to your body and honoring what you need.