Thriving through the Holidays / by Julie Anne Caramanico

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The holidays - with its flurry of activity - can be an especially stressful time of year. The sentiment behind the season of giving is a beautiful one. Giving of our time, energy, kindness and material gifts to others is wonderful. However, if we don’t turn our attention to ourselves, we can feel depleted. If you’re like me, stress causes a feeling of being overwhelmed. This can paralyze us into procrastination, then rushing to get things done. These stress responses, while incredibly common, can bring us to giving from a place of obligation rather than love and kindness.

The key to thriving in the midst of the holiday shuffle is taking time for yourself! I know it may seem counterintuitive, but its actually when we are so busy that it is most important to care for ourselves. Take a few moments a day to reflect on all the things you’ve accomplished for others, and balance it out with self-care. Here are some mindful tips to keep stress at bay and thrive this holiday season:

  1. Check in with your breathing. Place your hands on your low belly and focus on allowing the breath to fill that space so your belly expands and presses out toward your hands. Repeat for 10 rounds of breath, or even up to 5 minutes!

  2. Tackle your holiday to-do list by writing down 3 things you can accomplish today! Keeping the list small and focused will help everything feel much more manageable. Notice if you start avoiding your to-do list by doing anything but what you need to do (like me!) and remind yourself that you’ll feel so much better when you’re done. Get to it!

  3. Find balance! Spend a few moments in mindful breathing before or after a shopping trip, or do some of your favorite yoga poses before a holiday party. It will make all the difference!

  4. Move your body! Physical activity does wonders for your mind and body, and a quick 10 minute yoga practice or workout routine is a great way to show yourself some love and care throughout the holiday season.

  5. Do something you love. Carve out a little time to do the things that make you feel awesome! I love to play the ukulele or spend some time reading. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, allow yourself some time to do this so you can re-set and re-energize.

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Standing Forward-fold

For a quick stress-buster, try a standing forward fold. Start in mountain pose by standing with your feet hips distance apart. Press your feet into the ground and keep a slight bend in the knee. Roll the shoulders down the back and take a deep breath in, then on your exhale fold down. Take your hands to your shins, or to the floor or a block, and allow your head to drop down towards the floor so the neck becomes long. Continue breathing deeply and imagine that the stress is rolling off your back!

If you’d like some guidance on managing your stress and wellness, contact me here! I see clients in private practice on Saturday mornings at the Well-Being Center in Ardmore.