Achieve Holiday Ease in 3 Easy Steps that You Can Do Anywhere!
It’s finally that time of year! The holiday season has started and I have been itching to get my house looking and smelling like a shrine to all things festive and Christmassy since Halloween (some might call it an obsession but I prefer passion 💁🏻). The holiday ornaments have crept out from their spot in the closet, the twinkly lights have been hung, and the tree has been decorated. I also have Michael Bublé’s and Kacey Musgrave’s Christmas albums on repeat, much to my husband’s annoyance.
As you might have guessed, Christmas is my favorite holiday mostly because it smells so good! The second I smell the fresh pine of the Christmas tree, I'm instantly transported back to decorating my childhood home for the holidays with my sisters and parents. This is the season for families and friends to gather, create new memories surrounded by the comforting scents of home cooked meals, decorate our homes with bright decorations, and cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie marathons.
As enjoyable as the holidays can be, they can also provoke and cause a significant amount of stress. Whether it's due to financial issues (so.many.gifts.to.buy), traveling, family disputes, or staying on track with your health goals, the holidays can test anyone’s patience and sanity. So, I have created a list of 3 simple tools to help you de-stress and calm your nerves next time you feel the need to run and hide under the covers (like when your grandma asks about your dating life for the fifth time).
1. Belly Breath
You might be thinking: “really Christina, breathing? That is your revolutionary tip to de-stress? I breathe all the time and I am not feeling very ‘zen’ over here.” Stay with me on this one because deep belly breathing helps calm your nervous system, elevate your metabolism, reduce acute anxiety, and improve your heart health. Yes, you breath can do all of that.
Right now, take a second to evaluate how you are breathing. What moves when you breathe? Is your chest the only thing expanding and contracting? Or is your chest and belly moving together with each breath? Most people take very shallow breaths, which only causes the chest to rise and fall. This type of short breath activates the sympathetic nervous system (our bodies “fight or flight” response), which releases the stress hormone cortisol into our blood system.
But, when you take deep breaths, which involves the diaphragm and belly to move with your inhales and exhales, you igniting the parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a the rest and digest response). This type of deep breathing is called “diaphragmatic breathing” (since the diaphragm is engaged) or “belly breath” and it stimulates our body’s relaxation response. It allows your entire nervous system to calm down and is very effective when you find yourself in a stressful situation. It increases the oxygen in your body to nourish your cells, decreases your risks of stress-related illnesses (cardiovascular issues, digestive upsets, sleep disruptions etc.), and can even help increase your metabolism. It seriously works like magic!
Try it for yourself: place your hand on your stomach and feel it expand and contract as you breathe deeply through your nose. Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 6. Repeat 3 times. How to do feel? Are you more at ease?
You body craves movement everyday. It's so important to exercise since it releases those feel-good hormones to help your body and mind stay alert, energized, and calm. And the best part is that you don't need a gym membership or several hours a day to experience the benefits of a good workout sesh. Just get your body moving in someway that you enjoy!
Moving around can be as simple as taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood, walking around the mall while catching up with friends, doing a 20 minute yoga session off of YouTube, taking your kids/grandkids/nieces or nephews to a local park, or even playing in your own backyard. Since I work from home, I take my 10-month old Goldendoodle for a nice long walk so we can both stretch our legs.
By getting your body up and moving, you’ll satisfy your body’s desire to move, which helps reduce anxiety, ignites your digestion, and will help you get a better night sleep.
Cultivating a self-care practice is a key component to releasing your day-to-day stress. It will not only help calm your nervous system but it will also enhance your confidence. Adding small acts of self-care into my daily routine has completely changed my outlook and it doesn’t take a lot of effort! All you need is to designate some time each day to spend on yourself. It can be as little as a 10 minute meditation session, taking a longer shower than normal, signing up for a yoga class, getting a massage, or turning off your phone after work for some social media downtime. Over the past year I have learned just how powerful taking care of myself can be for my overall well-being and my confidence. I truly believe that I am better equipped to love and help the people around me. It has helped me feel more connected with myself and I feel so much better in my own skin. So, what will you do to begin practice self-care? Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you💚
I hope these tips are helpful as the holiday parties and festivities fast approach! Please let me know in the comments below if you have other tips to share.
I wish you all a joyous season and I hope it is filled with laughter, family, and delicious food. Stay tuned for next week’s post as it will deal with creating and achieving your New Year's resolutions like the badass you are!