7 Tips for Staying Grounded This Holiday Season
As wonderful as the holidays are, the reality is they aren’t always jolly. Juggling the many demands of the season can leave you feeling scattered, anxious, distracted or just plain overwhelmed. All that “ho-ho-ho-ing” can also lead to digestion issues, a weakened immune system and general drop in energy.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. By being intentional and practicing a bit of self-care, you can stay steady and grounded throughout the holiday season.
The Key to Avoiding the “Grinches”
The term “being grounded” gets thrown around so much in casual conversation today–especially within the yoga world–that it’s easy to overlook the depth of its meaning. The word “grounded” is an adjective that can describe a mental or emotional state. Being grounded indicates you are calm, stable and realistic. It can also indicate that you are:
Unruffled by outside influences
Steady in your foundation and purpose
In alignment (externally with your posture or internally with your energy)
Centered and able to make decisions from a neutral place.
Energized from your connection to spirit or source energy
During the busy holiday season, too much time in your head planning and thinking can leave you feeling ‘ungrounded’. Weaving a few self-care practices into your routine can bring you back into your body so you feel more grounded. A few minutes a day can make the difference between a joyous holiday or a miserable one.
Self-Care Tips for Staying Grounded
Whether you’re prone to stress and anxiety or are managing a busy schedule while attempting to avoid over-indulge on sweet treats, here are seven (7) simple self-care tips to keep you cool, calm and collected throughout the holiday season:
1- Practice Mindful Eating
Taking the time to feed ourselves with nutritious food can be a daily reminder to take time to connect with your body during this busy time of year. In Ayurveda, often referred to as yoga’s “sister science,” winter is a kapha time. Kapha is characterized by a sense of heaviness, more moisture, and lots of cloudy days. Support this season in your body with lots of warming foods:
cooked root vegetables,
warm or hot beverages,
warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
In addition, when attending holiday gatherings, practice mindful eating. No doubt this can be challenging with the additional stimuli of lights, music and socializing. Before leaving home, take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself. Set an intention to do what’s right for you and your body. Then enjoy every sip of wine and slowly savor every delicious bite. By slowing down you’ll be better able to notice when you’re body signals that it’s had enough.
2- Stay Hydrated
This is a great rule of thumb anytime of the year, but especially in the winter months when the air is drier. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. Being properly hydrated will help you sleep better, feel full faster, and help to flush toxins and viruses out of your system– all essential to staying healthy during the holidays.
3- Bundle Up and Head Outside
While we all feel pulled to go into hibernation mode this time of year, make an effort to bundle-up and get outside for some fresh air. As you walk, notice the change in color and scenery around you – the lights, the smells, the feeling of your feet on the ground. Pay particular attention to how the ground feels under your feet. Visualize the earth below that surface and your feet connecting with it. Hear and feel the crunching of the leaves or the soft snow beneath your feet.
4- Meditate Daily
Don’t wait for January to start in on your New Year’s resolution to add meditation to your daily routine. Carve out a few minutes each day to sit quietly with your eyes closed. Here’s a breath-focused meditation to help you get started:
Bring one hand to your heart and one hand to your low belly. As you inhale, focus on breathing first into the hand on your heart, and then into the hand on your belly. Exhale completely, and repeat 8-10 times. When finished, take a moment to notice how you feel. Make a point to do this at least once a day (perhaps more if you know you’ll be having a particularly busy day).
5- Indulge in a Hot Bath
Water is not only cleansing but healing. End your day with a warm bath. Adding Epsom salts not only can help relieve sore muscles, but can also help you sleep more soundly. One of Epsom salts’ main ingredients is magnesium. Magnesium helps to maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes deep, restorative sleep. Research indicates magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep.
Don’t like baths? Opt for a warm shower instead. As you stand in the shower, feel the sensation of the water hitting the top of your head and your face, neck, and shoulders. Imagine you’re standing beneath a waterfall. As you gaze at the water swirling down the drain, visualizing your worries being washed away too.
6- Take a Few Grounding Breaths
I love to think of pranayama practices as being “portable yoga.” You can do it anywhere (just don’t do it while driving!). Pranayama techniques in which your exhalations are longer than your inhalations are especially effective in signaling to your nervous system that it is safe to relax.
To bring a sense of grounding and calm an overactive mind, try breathing with the So Ham mantra (pronounced “hum”). Called the “mantra of the breath,” this Sanskrit mantra means “I am that” and helps to elongate your exhalations.
Lie or sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and establish a smooth steady pattern of breathing. Allow your chest, ribs and belly to expand and contract with each breath. After several breaths, as oyu inhale, mentally chant “So.” Then as you exhale, mentally chant “ham.” Try to linger in the final ‘m’ sound and notice how this increases the duration of your exhales. Continue for 1-2 minutes. When finished, pause and notice any differences in your mind and body.
7- Do Some Gentle Stretching
Five or ten minutes of gentle stretching or moderate exercise is all it takes to shift you out of your head and back into your body. Forward bends can be especially nourishing, turning your energy inward to help you recharge. Spend several breaths in a seated or standing forward bend, like Uttanasana or Child’s pose. Or try a hip opener like supine pigeon, especially welcome after a long car or plane trip to visit family. Alternatively, a few cat-cows or gentle seated twists can wring out tension in your shoulders and back.
If your energy is really low, spend a few minutes lying down on the floor. Legs Up the Wall is particularly grounding and restorative for times when you’re feeling depleted. As you rest in the pose, allow gravity to draw you closer to the earth. Take a few moments to scan your body for tension, starting at your toes and making your way up to the top of your head. Allow the Earth to absorb the tension for five to fifteen minutes.
It’s powerful to remember you have the ability to create your experience, especially during the holidays. Taking brief pauses for self care can help you stay calm and grounded so you can enjoy all the holidays have to offer.