I hope you had a great Christmas and Boxing Day and are looking forward to an amazing end to 2016 and start to the New Year for 2017.
It's the time of year when we have some time off (hopefully), we gather with others in some capacity and we celebrate Christmas, the holidays, the New Year and family, friends and social occasions. It can be a busy time and there is often overwhelm, stress and even maybe by the sheer mass of people you may spend time with over the next week or two - some conflict or added pressure on you to feel and act a certain way.
Christmas can be as draining as it is fabulous and prioritising your self-care is important in the week/s that follow. It's not just overwhelm but here in Australia it could be sunstroke, dehydration and death by trifle (I'm not a trifle fan but I have left overs sitting in my fridge from yesterday's feast... so. much. trifle).
So I've put together some simple and concise self-care rituals for the holiday period. Just some of my favourites here at The Breath Between HQ. Take five or ten minutes out to feel re-centered, re-fuelled and renewed and get back to having a most fabulous day and holiday period!
Super simple - but it's amazing how many people don't realise how shallowly they breathe. Sit comfortably and breathe into your nose, down through your chest, consciously expand your ribs and fill deep into your belly. Breathe out through your nose or mouth and expel air from your belly, then from your ribs, then your chest and out through your body. You can count the breathing cycles of in and out, or just breathe until you feel relaxed, calm and full of oxygen and energy.
Five minute meditation
If you've never meditated before - now is a very good time to start! Sit somewhere comfortable (or if you want to try a walking meditation you can do that using the same steps) and begin by focusing on your breathing. We're going to count the in breath as 1 and out breath as 2 and count your way up to 10 and do two rounds. When you breath in, focus on breathing in through your nose, into your chest, then expanding your ribs and deep into your belly. Then expel the breath starting from the belly, into the ribs, out of the chest and out through the nose (or mouth). As you breath you'll notice you'll think of other things - what you have left to clean up after Christmas lunch, what you're doing that night, what's happening tomorrow. That's ok! As soon as you notice that you're thinking of something else - gently let the thought go and focus back on the counting. That's the aim of the game - focused thoughts and training your mind - not clearing it completely! Once you've done some breathing rounds, focus on external sounds for about a minute. What can you hear? Birds? People laughing/talking? The wind? The waves? Again, thoughts will come and go, but come back to the sounds you can hear. Then finally do a body scan - focus intention on every part of your body, visibly scanning into it to see how it feels, from the top of your head, down each side of your body all the way down to your toes. If you feel tension, that's ok, just acknowledge it, consciously relax it and let it go. To finish your practice, give yourself some time just to totally let your mind wander and think of whatever it wants to - just freely. Slowly come back to where you are sitting, or walking by feeling your body on the floor, or your feet walking on the ground, and if your eyes are closed, open them and go about your day feeling amazing!
Lye flat on the floor
Find a place to lie down – anywhere you can, it doesn't have to be silent at this point. Just flat on your back for five minutes. Better yet, get your family around you to do the same after lunch (just a warning though - if you're full of food, you may well fall asleep!). Relax your entire body and turn your hands facing the sky. Let your body melt into the floor and allow your spine to realign. Then just breathe into your body the way that I explained earlier in the post. Let your stress and worry flow down into the ground while you breathe deeply into your belly.
Move your body
When you're full of food, or even when you first wake up - moving your body will get your blood flowing, oxygen into your body and you'll feel refreshed - even if it's just a walk around the block, some stretches, a yoga sequence or two or something more rigorous. Just because you may not have half an hour or an hour of 'free time' (let's be honest, we never REALLY have free time) doesn't mean you can't find pockets of time for movement. Go with whatever you feel your body needs - but take the opportunity when you can. Your body (and mind!) will feel better for it.
Sometimes feeling better is just a drink of water away. Make sure you drink up - stay hydrated, particularly in the hot Australian summer sun (and even if you're in the northern hemisphere, this still applies!) and if you're drinking alcohol make sure you eat well and enjoy in moderation. There are too many fabulous and fun activities that you'll miss out on if you're in bed!
Release guilt and embrace enjoyment
So many people I've spoken to over the past two days have talked about feeling 'guilty' about their food choices, or not getting enough exercise, or not being enough of this, or enough of that. Stop. Just stop. Guilt eats away at you, and how you embrace the holidays is as much a mental decision as it is a physical one. So if you have a day where you enjoy a bit too much food and don't get out and about, let it go. Embrace the energy and enjoyment of the moment, make sure you feel good about what you are doing (guilt sometimes sets in when we THINK we shouldn't be enjoying ourselves or feel good about what we're doing) and start again with whatever you 'wish' you had been doing or able to commit to tomorrow. It is a new day! Don't beat yourself up. Eat mindfully, move your body in some way (see point above) and makes ure you have access to lots of healthy options.
You know what? You don't HAVE to say YES to everything that you get invited to. It's ok to say no - consider this your permission to have some time out. Save yourself for those social activities that you truly love and the people you truly want to spend your time with. If you find you don't want to go somewhere or you're feeling resistance in any way - that's ok! Go with it. Save yourself for those life time memories with your nearest and dearest and if you say no - rock your time doing what you love and what makes you feel renewed.
I hope you all have a beautiful and restful end to 2016 and I have one more post for the year before rocking into 2017 with a smile and lots of inspiration to come.