December 19 2022 – Hunter DeRusha
The silly season is well and truly upon us (does anyone else think that it started really early this year?) From Christmas parties, to work deadlines, family events, end of year concerts and celebrations, gift shopping and fitting more into every day with the help of daylight savings… it’s normal to feel a little tapped out in December.
We naturally want to be more social during the bright summer days and with everyone in a ready-to-party mood and our to-do lists longer than ever, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, despite all the festive cheer in the air. Especially after spending the last 2 summers in and out of lock downs and doing less, this year has really hit us hard!
Looking after your energy and your physical body is an important way to maintain balance and energy levels during busy times and it will also help prevent a crash once all the craziness is over. By making some subtle shifts to your mindset and habits for the next few weeks, you can transition more steadily into the new year and reduce your risk of burnout. Here are some simple things you can explore to help you feel more balanced. Remember, holidays are meant to be fun and energising, not stressful and depleting!
Regulating your nervous system
Being on the go all the time and having a lot to do puts us into our sympathetic nervous system (our flight or fight mode) which means that we are running on adrenaline to stay motivated. While this can be useful in occasional small bursts, it isn’t sustainable long term. There are some easy ways to invite mindfulness into your day to help shift you into your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and restore) so that you don’t come crashing down off an adrenaline high or get to the stage of complete burn out (ie, wanting to be alone in a dark, quiet room sleeping for several days to ‘recover’ from the holidays!).
Using simple breathing techniques for just 5 or 10 minutes a day can help to reduce the dominance of your sympathetic nervous system and allow you to clear the mind for a few moments. Learn more about the importance of breathwork and simple techniques here.
There is a lot of hype around the concept of ‘summer shred’ or getting a ‘beach body’ that we can slip into the habit of over exerting or over committing to strenuous exercise that not only uses up our precious energy but also puts us into our flight or fight mode and evokes a stress response in the body. While exercise is a useful tool to increase mood and endorphins, if we over-do it when we are already feeling stressed then it can have the opposite effect, causing our body to hold onto cortisol and store fat because our primitive instincts think that we are in a time of need and wants to hold onto our energy stores.
If you have been feeling overwhelmed then it might be worth switching a few intensive exercise sessions for a gentle yoga flow or doing a Downchill from our online yoga library several times a week, to balance out your nervous system response.
Sleep is a key pillar of wellness and can often be neglected a bit during silly season. Longer hours of daylight, social events, Christmas parties and early sunrise all effect our sleeping patterns and precious hours of restoration. During summer to ensure adequate sleep means to create a balanced schedule where possible. If you know you’ll be having a late night, then don’t book an early morning coffee date or gym session, instead give yourself the extra hours to get some z's. Likewise, if you can squeeze in any extra hours of sleep on your weekends, naps can be a great way to ensure you are getting enough rest. You can use essential oils and magnesium sprays or powders to help ease into dreamland if you are more restless than usual.
Permission to let go of expectations
You don’t have to do everything. If you don’t see that group of friends for champagne before Christmas, it’s okay – they will still be around in the new year. We put so much pressure on ourselves to do ALL the things before Christmas, but sometimes we need to realise that it’s just another week, and it’s not essential to cram everything in before this imaginary deadline. Give yourself permission to say no and to prioritise only those events that are absolutely essential. Everything else will be fine to wait a few more days. We promise.
This leads us into another very important aspect of maintaining balance and mindfulness during the holiday season – Boundaries. Learning to say no when something isn’t going to serve you, to let go of expectations and to maintain your own energy and vitality.
This basically means saying no, taking time to rest and doing things that nourish you, rather than make you feel depleted. There is so much excitement in the air at this time of year and it’s easy to get swept up in planning and shopping and socialising but if you try to do everything eventually you might end up feeling resentful or exhausted and miss out on being truly present for the important moments.
For many of us, indulging in the festive season means lots of eating and drinking on days that we usually wouldn’t. Especially when it comes to alcohol, setting boundaries can be useful in ensuring we are prioritising our wellbeing. This means having very honest conversations with yourself and setting a limit that will be beneficial to you. For some people it might mean a boundary of 2 glasses of wine per function. For others it might be choosing which social events to consume alcohol at or opting to skip the booze (and the hangover) altogether. This is a very personal choice and will be different for everyone, but an important step in maintaining balance and looking after your body.
Ahhh Christmas. Not only are we socialising and spending more, there is also the added element (and stress) of gift shopping. Money can be considered as a type of energy, and setting financial boundaries will help you feel more balanced and grounded as you move into the new year. Whether you are budgeting for a night out or deciding not to overspend on gifts, starting to consider your financial wellbeing as part of your overall health and mindfulness strategy can be a helpful perspective change.
Nourishing your physical body
We touched on this point earlier, but mindfulness means enjoying things in moderation and consciously choosing when and how to indulge, rather than having a 4 week junk food bender that will leave you feeling horrible in January! This doesn't mean sticking to harsh rules or diets, there is so much joy to be found in food, in sharing it with loved ones and celebrating with delicious meals. Inviting in conscious consuming means that you can enjoy these aspects more deeply and appreciate what is on your plate (or in your glass!) During the festive season think of food as nourishment for the body and the soul. Enjoy your food but eat consciously, with consideration to the energy it will bring you and be mindful about how you will feel afterwards.
Time in nature
Connecting to the Earth is a deeply healing and balancing gesture - an essential tool in maintaining your energy when everything else feels a bit wild. Especially if you find yourself swept up into bright shopping malls, loud restaurants or rushing from one thing to another, take a small moment to feel your bare feet on the grass, press your palm into the bark of a tree or feel the ocean breeze on your skin. Time in nature is incredibly supportive to the nervous system and will help keep you grounded, even amongst the chaos of Christmas shopping.
Create a small daily ritual
Your daily practice might be diffusing some essential oils in your space and listening to your favourite song, rolling on a massage ball to release tension in tired muscles or enjoying the comfort from a warm cup of tea. Find a slow daily habit that makes you feel relaxed and connected to the present moment. Think of it as your ZONE. That slice of time that is just for you, every day.
Be present with yourself and offer up feelings of gratitude for everything you have achieved this year, this month, this week. Think about the abundance you are blessed with, your friends and family, your home, your body - all the things that have come together to bring you into this moments. Thank yourself for showing up, each and every day and realise what a beautiful gift this life is. Especially in stressful times, can you take a deep breath and return to gratitude, return to mindfulness?
As our gift to you to thank you for your support and to help you through the silly season, we have one month of FREE Online Yoga for you. It includes yoga flows, meditations and breath work to help you feel balanced and mindful as you move into 2023. With love,