The holidays are a fun and festive time. Yet, with end of year deadlines, overextended schedules, and burgeoning to-do lists, the final weeks of the year may leave you searching for the holiday spirit. Fortunately, a little self-care will revitalize your body and mind, enabling you to get the most from the holiday season.
The following self-care rituals are designed for busy times. Each activity can be completed in less than 30 minutes and is designed to nourish the body, de-stress the mind, and contribute to overall wellness.
Let Go with Yin Yoga
Yin yoga encourages slow movement and long pose holds. Remaining in static poses for three to five minutes unblocks subtle energy channels, known in Ayurveda as nadis. When pranic pathways become blocked through stress, poor diet, or lack of sleep, vitality and enthusiasm diminish. Yin yoga flushes the energy channels, allowing prana to revitalize your physical and energetic systems.
Boost Your Immune System with Elderberry Tea
Elderberries have long been used as a folk remedy to treat colds and flu. Recent research confirms that elderberries have high levels of specific antioxidants known as polyphenols. The polyphenols in elderberries may reduce oxidative stress in the body and prevent associated pathologies such as inflammation and suppressed immunity. When stress is high and the schedule is full, it makes sense to give your body an antioxidant boost with a hot mug of elderberry tea.
Listen to the Sounds of Nature
The primordial sounds of nature soothe the nervous system and create measurable decreases in stress. Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that nature sounds activate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the rest and digest system. Some easy ways to access nature’s melodies include opening your windows as birds welcome the sun, taking a walk near a body of moving water, or simply listening to the sound of rain as it falls outside. If nature’s sounds are covered by city noises, turn on a soundtrack of ocean waves or forest animals.
Nourish Your Microbiome through Fermented Foods
Throughout history, indigenous cultures have integrated fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and miso into their cuisine. The rich array of microorganisms in fermented foods nourishes trillions of beneficial organisms in the intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome. Stanford researchers found that integrating fermented foods into the diet increases microbiome diversity. According to Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, increasing microbiome diversity has been linked to enhanced immune functioning, happier mood, and decreased chronic inflammatory disease. Adding a small serving of fermented foods to meals is a tasty way to enhance wellness, especially during periods when your diet is less than optimal.
Perform an Aura Sweep
From a standing or seated position, ground your feet on the floor or earth. As you inhale, sweep your arms out to the sides and overhead. Touch the palms together, then exhale and pull the prayer hands to the heart. Repeat this for three to five minutes, gaining speed as you get more comfortable. Concentrate on strengthening your energy as you inhale and opening your heart as you exhale.
Enjoy a Hot Bath
Water has long been cherished in healing ceremonies. From bathing in the Ganges to baptism with holy water, the sacred energy of water has a long history of use. To release tension, increase awareness, or signal a new beginning, draw a hot bath and add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Immerse yourself in the water and feel that anything that does not serve you is being cleansed. When you are ready to leave the bath, imagine negative energy being washed down the drain, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalized.
Plan Your Meals for the Week
Planning meals ahead of time improves nutrition, decreases stress, and ensures that healthy food choices are available when hunger strikes. Each week, preplan your breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. Try to ensure that at least two meals each day are nutritionally dense and plant centered. Preparation is the best way to circumvent poor food choices. For grab-and-go options, consider making overnight oats for breakfast, preparing cut vegetables to accompany lunch, and portioning nuts in small containers for snacks. Keeping most of your meals healthy will allow you to enjoy the festive meals and treats without guilt.
Go to Bed Earlier
Getting enough sleep has a plethora of benefits, from aiding brain functioning to increasing immunity. Yet, when late night parties keep you up past bedtime, try to rise within an hour of your regular waking time. If your body needs extra, go to bed early the following evening. This strategy will actually give you more energy in the long run by maintaining your circadian wake rhythm rather than dis-regulating it.
Buy Yourself Fresh Flowers
Fresh flowers radiate nature’s energy. They enhance mood and bring vitality to workspaces. Don’t wait for someone else to buy flowers for you, instead pick them up yourself. Choose your favorite floral varieties and each time you look at the visual feast consider that you are taking responsibility for your own happiness. Couple your flowers with an affirmation such as, “I prioritize self-care,” or “I choose to be happy now!”
Cleanse Your Energy with Singing Bowls
The vibrations of crystal or metal singing bowls can clear stagnant and negative energy. To uplift the energy in a room, walk around the perimeter while ringing a singing bowl. Then chime the bowl in the center of the room and listen until the sound has dissipated. If possible, open a window to enhance energy flow. Repeat the bowl chimes until you feel peaceful energy return to the room.
This holiday season, give yourself the gift of self-care. By prioritizing your own well-being, you will discover that you have more energy and joy to share with those around you.