For many years, I stopped ‘celebrating’ Christmas,
partly to combat the commercialism of it, but also because frankly, it made me wanna shout Bah-humbug! If you find yourself battling the blues, here are a few tips that can help get you through the holidays.
Do something for yourself Buy yourself a gift, treat yourself to a spa service or massage, or enjoy a nurturing yoga class.
Do something for others Doing things for others, whether big or small, simply makes us feel good. It opens our hearts and puts a shine in our eyes! It could be as simple as giving someone a hug, holding a door open or paying for the coffee of the person standing in line behind you! Or make it bigger and donate your time with an elder at a seniors residence, a child at the children’s hospital or a lonely pet at an animal shelter.
Essential Oils EO’s can help to lift your spirits. Mixed together, they work great in a diffuser or spray bottle. For lethargy, try stimulating oils like peppermint, cinnamon, or citrus oils like sweet orange, which are said to “gladden the heart”. Calming oils such as lavender, jasmine, neroli, and sandalwood help to calm and ground you when you’re feeling anxious.
(*Please consult an aromatherapist if you are pregnant or have health conditions)
Don’t have oils at home? Look around your kitchen for ideas: Peel a mandarin orange – they’re sweet and smell great, which can help to lift the mood. Or try my “clean air recipe” from November’s blog – adding a teabag to your pot such as peppermint or chai.
Get Active It may be tempting to lock yourself indoors and curl up with a book or stack of movies you’ve been meaning to catch up on. But you also need to move your body! Remember many of us spend our time sitting at desks or in cars. You’ll not only increase your energy and endorphins which are one of our “happy hormones”, but movement will keep your entire system, including the immune and digestive systems, functioning properly. Go for a walk or other outdoor activity. The fresh air will clear your lungs and your head!
Yoga Poses that open the chest are heart openers. Not only are you stretching and strengthening your muscular heart, but you are stretching your emotional heart, helping to “ loosen the negative plaque” that gets stuck in there. Inversions bring fresh blood flow to the upper body and head, helping to refresh the brain and bring a glow to your cheeks.
Here are some ideas. Try a few or the entire sequence. If you aren’t sure about a pose, please feel free to contact me or check out www.yogajournal.com, which offer pictures as well as benefits and contraindications of most of the postures listed below.
- Spinal warm-ups such as sitting or kneeling cat/cow, and a twist. ‘slappy sides’ are my favourite, especially when I’m feeling tired or irritable. They help to energize and invigorate and are great for moving the lymph through the body. Stand tall, arms loose, swinging around from right to left, letting hands slap sides of body. As you twist to one side, lift back heel to prevent torquing the ankle or knee.
- A round of full sun salutations or 3 half ones, will loosen up tight joints and muscles plus energize the body.
- Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) with goddess arms. Warrior poses help to build strength and stamina but can also build self confidence and self esteem. Adding goddess arms opens chest, stretching stiff muscles and stiff heart :0)
To release pent up tension or emotions, start in standing position or mountain pose (tadasana). Take a moment to close your eyes and focus on an area where you often feel specific emotions, (ie. anger in the belly or constriction in the throat). Step into Warrior I, right foot forward first with arms in Goddess pose, as you firmly say one of the following sounds: Ram, Yam or Ham (*pronunciation - each rhymes with “um”). Step back, then forward with left foot, arms in Goddess, repeating sound. Do this a few times on either side. Come back to mountain pose, hands together with thumbs touching heart center. Take a moment to notice any sensations or emotions that may occur.
The sounds mentioned above come from the science of the Chakras. They are part of the 7 main chakras or energy centers.
Yam - Anahata Chakra, located at the Heart’s center; associated with love, trust, compassion, forgiveness
Ham - Vishudha Chakra, located in the Throat; associated with truth; communication, being able to express yourself
Gratitude Sure, we all get stuck in the “neggy nellies” but daily gratitude reminds us that there are good things too! It is said that positive thinking and emotions bring positive things into our lives.
It can be as simple as being grateful for the weather, food in our fridge, a friend or family member we cherish. Or you can look at the more challenging times. As a yoga teacher and prenatal instructor, I was disappointed that the “birth plan” for my first child, completely went out the window and I ended up with a C-section. But when I returned to teaching, I realized how important it was for me to have had that experience, so that I was better able to relate to and support the women who also went through that!
Make it a daily practice. Try it before you get out of bed in the morning or before you eat a meal. When my partner or I are feeling down or get stuck in a rut, we try to remind each other in that moment to find 5 things to be grateful for. With practice you will realize how much there is to be grateful for!
These days, instead of feeling like Scrooge himself, I revel in the time off with family, winter activities and hot cocoa, and the rosiness of my sons cheeks when we’re playing outdoors!