Turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, ham, apple pie, warm kitchens, fireplaces glowing, eggnog, hot chocolate, decorations, lights, music, concerts, friends, laughter, children playing, families united, parties, gatherings, shopping, gifts, planning, to-do lists, over-eating, indigestion, agitation, not-enough-time-in-the-day, stress, holidays, stress, budget, stress, go here, stress, go there, buy this, get that, more, do this, do that…
The holidays are a wonderful time of year and time for celebration. However, it can also be a very stressful or sad time if we don’t have the tools to manage our emotions or stress levels. Without the tools to de-stress, we may become trapped in intense emotions like depression, anxiety and stress.
During the holidays, we often put unreasonable expectations on ourselves to host or be part of the perfect, fairy tale holiday story. Or, we make no plans and yet wonder why we feel rejected.
Countless hours spent planning, buying, preparing, baking, cooking and fashioning… we have an enormous step-by-step to-do list that we believe will make our holiday complete and perfect. If we just get that toy or buy that decoration, we will be complete and loved. We cram task after task into our already busy lives, rushing to the next thing, pushing through the exhaustion. If we don’t do it, who will?
We prepare the perfect day for our distant relatives, our close relatives, our children, spouses, parents, friends, and acquaintances, but do we ever factor in what we need for a happy, restful holiday? How can we be at our best?
Do we ever stop and say, “Wait, I’m over-extending and exhausted. I need a break and a restful holiday?”
Or, are we up late hours, baking cookies, shopping, wrapping, refilling drinks and appetizers, cleaning, making sure the kids eat their green beans, and planning the best course of action to hit the best Black Friday sales? Do we stay up and worry about what’s left on the to-do list? Wondering what we forgot? Wondering if Uncle Bob will show up drunk or what life decision Aunt Cathy will criticize this year?
Sometimes the negative distractions of the holiday often take hold and that is all we see. We work hard to make it as magical and smooth as possible and then we crash hard, especially when we feel it doesn’t go “according to plan.” We become so wrapped up in doing and checklists that we become caught in a cycle of anticipation, never really enjoying the space we’re in, never seeing the joy of the season and the reasons we celebrate and come together to begin with…never taking the time to BE. We nitpick every decision and get caught up in negativity and worry. Responsibility and obligation pound relentlessly on the door and before we know it, our holidays are over, leaving us more exhausted than ever.
Is there a way to manage the stress and rush of the holidays?
Is there a way to be present during this celebration of life and really enjoy it?
Is there a way to celebrate with the ones we love and gently move away from the energy vampires?
Is there a way to nurture ourselves and be at our best, even with a massive to-do list?
There is, and therapeutic yoga can help. Therapeutic yoga is a combination of restorative yoga poses (poses where the body is supported with yoga props), gentle stretching, breath work, sound therapy and aromatherapy. It’s designed to heal and restore the body and mind. It’s said that the breath is the bridge that connects the body and mind. By allowing the breath to flow freely, we allow the life force to flow throughout the body, removing stuck energy, emotions or blocks buried within the cells, creating a space for healing and rest.
It’s a deeply meditative practice that gently stretches out tension and stress in the body. It brings you to a place of deep relaxation and clarity. Through directed focus of breath, we train the mind to quiet, alleviating the incessant thinking of the past and future, soothing the worry of things going wrong and allowing us to go with the flow more easily. With practice, we can laugh about the overcooked turkey or running out of gravy. We can find the joy in the things going right, in the blessings, and we can allow harsh negative judgments to fall away. We learn to accept what we are feeling rather than running or distracting ourselves from emotions. We focus on those that support us and lift us up.
We begin to accept what we are feeling; we view emotions as a natural part of our being and can embrace our true feelings, moment by moment. We realize that there is a reason for what we feel; there is a higher intelligence at work, guiding us through life.
It takes energy to avoid feeling emotion
It takes energy to avoid feeling emotion and there is a direct connection to feeling exhausted from this emotional suppression. With the already high-stress nature of the holiday season around us, it’s important to create a reserve of positive energy to restore us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Emotional suppression can only add to the stress of the holidays, especially when we are confronted with difficult family members and situations. Therapeutic yoga teaches us to feel and release the repressed energy, which will naturally relieve stress, boost immune function and relieve aches and pains. When we allow the fullness of our true feelings to emerge and be felt, we move into greater balance in many aspects of our lives. We go with the flow of life with ease and embrace the fullness of our experience. We no longer feel overworked or depleted.
We witness how our minds work, observing our thoughts and we realize that most times, it isn’t the situation making us unhappy, but our thoughts about it.
Through therapeutic yoga, we witness those thoughts and then let them go, not getting hooked into “the story,” and not creating anxiety or depression. We become more present for family and experience the magic the season has to offer. Serotonin and positivity are boosted and negativity falls away. Through practice, we tap into the readily flowing energy stream of well-being that is in us, always.
There is no better gift to give to your loved ones than being present and practicing self-care. When you are calm, free from physical pain and stress, and at your best, you can think and act with clarity, to be the best for your family and friends. Some may think that working on oneself is selfish but it is quite the opposite.
Our external world is a reflection of our internal world.
If we are suffering on the inside, we project that suffering out on the ones we love and care about. Healing our selves is the most important thing we can do for those we love and for the world.
Your holidays may or may not go “as planned,” but therapeutic yoga will give you the tools to find ease, happiness, and acceptance of whatever comes your way.