The holidays can be a time of high stress, overeating, and late nights for many of us. By the time January rolls around, you’re picking up the pieces and asking how you can get started again on a path to wellness. But, why wait? So, I asked my yoga teacher, Janet Dailey Butler, to come up with strategies on how to make it through the holidays with zen-like balance.
Janet: Even as a yoga teacher dealing in “calm”…I don’t like to be told to “Keep Calm and Carry On” especially during the holiday season! This particular phrase feels like a command to me, telling me to not acknowledge my feelings. So how do we make space for feelings, healing and the “carrying on” of the holidays?
As we move into the holiday season, maybe we can find tenderness towards ourselves and our feelings first, before extending that to our loved ones and friends. That might mean that we do less, and “in-joy” more. Maybe, we give ourselves a break this year, and instead of coming up with the perfect gift, we spend quality time with our loved ones. My most cherished moments with friends and family have never been about gift giving. I believe we all want to feel loved, seen and heard.
Here are my gifts to you, two simple breathing practices to help you bring back the calm, instead of forcing it, and a video on the “three-point breath” at the end.
As a wellness practitioner, what I have found to be of great benefit to my health when I am feeling anxious and wound up about what might happen or what just happened is to stop and bring my awareness to my body and to my breath, and to notice my emotional state.
Try this simple breathing practice:
Placing your hands on your heart and your belly, acknowledge the present moment. Tune into your breath, but don’t judge or try to control it — just observe. Acknowledge where you are at with some tender loving kindness. Witness where stress lives within you and breath into it. Then, as you take your next exhale, release a little bit, let go of it, and on your next inhale feel your chest expand.
It seems so simple, but I have found that breath work is the key to make a palpable shift emotionally within minutes. It is not a magic wand that wipes your stress away in one swoop, but more like a “dear friend” that simply listens and is there for you without judgement. The mind follows the breath.
Here’s another favorite: The “Three-Point Breath” is one of the most simple and effective ways to ground yourself in stressful times. It has been a powerful component of my stress management toolkit for years. Click here for a link to a video that will show you how to do the three-point breath.
Quality time seems to be one of the best gifts I can think of this year to give to my family and friends. So, when the rush of the holidays overtakes you, remember to slow down, breathe, and connect with your community.
May Love, Light and Peace surround you all this holiday season.
Learn more about Janet and the Happy Gut Team here.