The holiday season is in full swing! With parties, family time, a break from work, and allll of the coziness, it’s one of my favourite times of year.
I also know that the holidays can expose us to stressors that we don’t normally deal with in our regular daily routines, or that are elevated during this time of year:
- Being in close quarters with family members for extended periods of time
- Additional financial pressure with gift giving
- Exposure to large groups more often (hello office parties!)
- Colder weather and generally less time spent outdoors
- Deterring from our normal diet (generally consuming way more sugar and alcohol)
- Personal (or others) expectations on how the holidays SHOULD go (ex. pressure to keep certain traditions going, give certain gifts, etc.)
- Fuller schedule and less time for self-care routines (exercise, cooking, etc.)
Phew! It can get a bit overwhelming at times and with that I wanted to share my favourite ways to manage stress during the holidays.
#1 – Alternate Nostril Breathing
This is a breathing exercise often used in yoga practice. It’s super effective in helping to calm the nervous system and take our bodies out of the stress “fight or flight” mode, and into “rest and digest”.
It also helps to balance the left and right hemispheres of our brain, supporting mental clarity and groundedness.
This is an exercise that can be done as a preventative measure to build your resiliency to stress, but also done in the moment when you feel your stress levels climbing.
- Sitting in a comfortable position, place your pointer and middle fingers on the bridge of your nose, and your thumb and ring finger on either sides of your nostrils
- Begin by taking a few deep inhalations, breathing deep into your belly
- Plug your left nostril and breathe in deeply through your right nostril, plug your right nostril at the top of the breath and release it through the left side
- Continue this pattern, alternating between your left and right nostril for 5-7 minutes (it can also be done for a shorter 1-2 minutes if that’s all you have – it will still be effective!)
#2 – Get Your Proboitics
The health of our gut is directly related to the health of our brains, and as such greatly impacts our experience with stress.
Studies show that those with a more balanced gut microbiome have greater resiliency to stress!
With the increase in sugar and alcohol consumption during the holidays, the gut will suffer. Sugar and alcohol are both “anti-nutrients” when it comes to digestive health as they actually feed the bad bacteria, throwing off the balance of good bacteria.
With that in mind, upping your intake of probiotic rich foods during the holidays is super helpful. Some great probiotic foods are kombucha, sauerkraut, & homemade coconut yogurt (basically anything fermented!). Check out my other blog post here for more information on probiotics!
Adding in a probiotic supplement is always a great idea too. I love Genuine Health & Genestra brands.
#3 – Plan Mini Self-Care Moments
During the holidays, our schedules are generally quite full and our self-care time might suffer. Less time for ourselves to rest and recharge is a recipe for a stress disaster.
Planning mini self-care moments ahead of time is a great way to keep you feeling grounded and recharged. These are 5-10 minute windows in which we focus solely on ourselves and what we need to feel good.
This could be anything from a few deep breaths (as per above!), jotting down 10 things we are grateful for (we can even do this on our phone), listening to our favourite song and signing in the car, listening to a few minutes of an inspiring podcast, reading a few pages from a great book, or getting a few simple exercises or stretches in.
The key is to plan these ahead of time! Have them in your back pocket ready for when you start to feel stress levels increase.
Happy Holidays lovelies!
I hope these were helpful for you. Let me know below if you try them and what your experience was.
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