By Heidi Baldwin, Integrative Nutrition Holistic Health Coach
Even if you love the holidays and await them all year long, we can all agree there's a significant increase in stress during this season. Your schedule is bombarded with visits from family and friends, work events, social events, and family outings, just to name a few. Traffic is more hectic than usual, stores are packed, and it can be quite simple to let it send you into overwhelm. We have unrealistic expectations, we strive for unattainable perfection in everything holiday related, and self-care is nearly non-existent at the moment. The most wonderful time of the year comes with a price that goes beyond the extra calories and frantic holiday shopping.
Let this year be different! Putting a focus on lowering stress can help you enjoy the season without the added pressure. In addition to taking a big leap and striving to not buy into the commercialism of the holidays, and making a commitment to keeping it simple, taking a natural approach to stress by using the ancient tradition of Ayurveda might hold the key to surviving the holiday season this year and beyond.
Here are some ways to make it through to the New Year with naturally-effective stress-busting solutions:
Try drinking hot water
In Ayurvedic practices, hot water is recommended for digestive health. We need to pay a little extra attention to our digestive system with all the holiday meals and parties we attend. Whether you have hot water or tea, doing so 30 minutes to one hour after eating helps you balance out your indulgences.
Choose warming spices
Maybe that slice of pumpkin pie full of nutmeg and cinnamon isn’t such a bad idea. As it turns out, eating more warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and turmeric help in keep us balanced. They’re great for restoring a good mood, and can help your joint pains feel better too after you finish decorating or wrapping gifts. If you want a healthier option to enjoy these spices, add them to roasted squash, or a nice cup of homemade cocoa with honey rather than sugar for the sweetener.
Focus on your blessings rather than nitpicking over calories
Should you eat enough calories for one week in one day? Probably not, but focusing more on the gratitude of being present with those you love is more important. With great conversations over your meal, focus on those words, and savor every bite. By eating slowly and treasuring the meal, you’ll naturally feel fuller and won’t have room to overdo it. And you won’t spoil the moment by obsessing over calories. Remember the slower you eat, the easier it is for your brain to get the message that you are full, so be mindful while you savor every bite while you enjoy time with family.
Practice self-care with Ayurvedic massage
Using warm essential oils (such as thieves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, or clove) to give yourself a 10-minute massage will help balance your Vata (the element that governs all movement in the mind and body, controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing, and the movement of thoughts across the mind). In winter, it’s especially important to do to keep the body balanced. Traditionally, this type of massage is practiced in the morning before bathing. Not sure where to start with self-massage? The feet are an easy place to start with great pay-offs! You can also massage the oils into your shoulders. Starting the day off with a massage sounds like a great way to bust stress, doesn't it?
Get the golden ticket to better sleep
With all the holiday excitement, you might find it hard to sleep yourself. Try warming a cup of almond milk and adding a pinch of cardamom and turmeric. Drink this before bed, and sleep should be deeply refreshing.
Take time for yoga
Yoga opens up our pathways and complements Ayurvedic practices all in one. The best way to get rid of stress and keep health flowing through you is to have harmony in the mind and body. Put yoga classes on your gift wish list, or better yet, make it the gift you give yourself!
By turning the focus to natural ways of busting stress during the holidays, it will free up your mind to truly enjoy the season for all its many blessings!