With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s not uncommon to be feeling overwhelmed, stressed and out of balance. The countdown is on as we scramble to put up the tree, decorate the house, find the perfect outfits for those annual parties (that you probably don’t even want to attend), search high and low for those hard to find gifts and rack your brain about what to get the hard-to-buy-for… There’s baking and holiday cards and oh let’s volunteer too because we should really give back even though we’re burning it at both ends!
And then it’s all here and gone in a flash and we fast forward to January where we refocus and vow to do things differently in the coming new year. We get a fresh new start and recommit to our exercise routines and good habits that escaped us somewhere along the way.
How do you escape the madness when you’re dedicated to tradition and the wheels are in motion? People are counting on you to show up and play your part.
There’s a little phrase I say a lot in yoga class. “Find the balance between effort and ease.” This applies to us now during the holiday season more than ever! Despite how much the retail stores and social media fuel consumption and materialism, we can choose to rise above it. Here are three yoga inspired tips to help you stay grounded this holiday season and find more joy and peace amidst the frenzy.
Your mind is swirling with so much to think about and before you know it, you’ve lost yourself in a flood of to-do’s, reminders, memories, emotions. Times like this actually give us the perfect opportunity to practice! Practice what? Practice finding yourself – your spirit. Life is so much more enjoyable when we are present. When the mind is busy, the breath follows. It becomes restricted and the body becomes tense.
When you feel this happening, take a minute to take a deep breath to anchor yourself into the present. Ask yourself silently, what do I need? Listen closely to what your spirit is telling you. Little by little, you can unwrap the layers of mental clutter to find something very precious – yourself buried under demands and deadlines, waiting to be heard, waiting to be listened to and longing to just be.
2. Give the gift of authenticity.
I once read a quote that said, “My greatest fear is that everyone I know will show up in the same room at the same time and I won’t know who to be.” Of course, I don’t remember the author now. But I think this hits home for all of us. It is so common to carefully select which aspects of self we share with others. For this reason the holidays can be extra stressful because we are much more social, attending family gatherings, work parties, friend get-togethers. But what if we just took a deep breath and showed up as ourselves? When we share our light and our true spirit we connect on a deeper level.
People intuitively recognize authenticity. And there is a deeper response back from the other person. By sharing our light we naturally give others the permission to do the same. And all of the sudden, life feels a little lighter. This is a gift. Our individual spirit is a gift to be shared with others. When we share it, it lights up the whole world. So let’s make the world brighter this holiday!
3. Be gentle.
With so much to do it’s easy to forget little things, make mistakes or come up short. Those critical thoughts creep in – things like feeling bad for buying store bought cookies vs making something from scratch for a party. Or feeling like we didn’t get someone a good enough gift and they spent way more than we did. Or shameful thoughts like nothing looks good on me and it’s pointless to go shopping because I didn’t lose those last ten pounds. We are our own worst critic. In the end, none of these things matter. They just clutter up the mind and rob us of the present moment. When you find yourself trapped in those thought patterns, call a yogi time out! Replace the thought with, “be gentle.” Take a deep breath and give yourself more credit. You are exceptional, neither broken nor whole. Gentleness goes a long way to living with more ease while gratitude makes our effort enough.
In the end, when we use these opportunities to practice yoga principles, we gain more insight and a deeper sense of joy. And when the holidays have come and gone, you can sit back with a smile feeling stronger than before because your dedicated practice is teaching you to shed the crazy and live with more grace.
Happy Holidays and Namaste.
Sarah Balmer, BS, Yoga I.S. ® RYT-200
Certified Health Coach, Artist
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