Fun festive cheer or stressful mania… which will your December be full of?! We know there’s a tipping point! While Christmas can be a joy-filled time of year it is not without its own unique stresses – family pressures, expectations, calendars jam-packed with social engagements, sweet treats and temptations at every turn… Here are a few ideas that will keeping your wellbeing tiptop at this time of year.
Top tips for keeping your wellbeing in check this Christmas…
- Keep an eye on your energetic bank balance. Just as a car needs petrol to go, we need energy to function well, to be the kind of people we aspire to be and to enjoy life. Get to know your energetic bank balance and take action when you’re feeling depleted. Check in with your energy levels and give yourself permission to act accordingly – burning the candle at both ends might have you feeling reactive and grumpy rather than festive. It can be as simple as making time for a 10 minute meditation to give you enough steam to enjoy your big night out or taking a restorative bath to ease away the post party residue. Be honest with yourself and keep nourishment on the radar. It is not selfish, it is absolutely necessary.
- Keep moving. Quite often the festive season wreaks havoc with our usual patterns of movement… long meals, time on the sofa and very full tummies. By all means enjoy the socialising and family time and it would be a crime not to enjoy the delights of seasonal rituals, but keep moving. Maybe its 5 mins of yoga (take a peek at my YouTube channel for some free and quick yoga sequences), or popping on your favourite tunes and having a boogie at home or it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block. Keep moving to boost your mood and resilience to stress.
- If you are going to indulge… savour it. This is my all-time favourite festive tip. If you are going to eat that pudding, nibble on that shortbread, crack open that bubbly, dig into that roast…. ENJOY IT! Savour every last little bit of enjoyment. Don’t fritter it away with guilt. Don’t waste it by thinking you shouldn’t be doing it. Don’t miss out on the joy by failing to give it your full attention. You might find that life’s joys savoured in this way means you stop a little sooner and have less compensatory work required of you later. Life is meant to be enjoyed, so savour it!
Beaming you love,
“I’m stressed!” The modern catch cry! We all know that feeling of time pressure, mental overwhelm, sleeplessness, tight jaw, adrenals in overdrive… The thing is, stress isn’t going to go away. The day where there is an absence of stress is the day we are pushing up daisies. In fact, even positive and much longed for events can also tax our minds and bodies… Getting married, scoring that promotion, falling pregnant and then hells bells, adjusting to the demands of them being on the outside! We have to get a handle on stress because its effects are cumulative, too much stress is plain dangerous for our health and it puts the kibosh on happiness.
So what’s the solution? Daily nourishment, valves that release that mounting pressure, and simple mood boosters. These things must be at our fingertips touch when we need it the most and most of all, quick! I call it my ‘self-care toolkit’ and it helps me manage my stress. Even better, it helps me be the kind of mother, partner, friend and practitioner that I aspire to be. Win win! There’s nothing selfish about that.
10 ways to stress less:
- Breathe – it is literally impossible to feel stressed at the same time as breathing well. We still may be aware of uncomfortable sensations, thoughts and feelings but we don’t feel stressed about them while breathing well. How do we breathe well? Simply stop, be still, and feel your breathing. Relax into the sensations of the inhalation filling you up, a tiny pause at the end of the breath in, the surrender of the exhalation and the pause at the end of your breath out. Become your breath for as long as it takes to feel more grounded.
- ‘Put and ring around it’ – identify what it is that’s stressing you and put a ring around it. It’s not everything, it is just this one defined thing. And if there are multiple stressors that does genuinely make you feel like it’s everything, put a ring around this time. It won’t be like this forever. This ‘chunking down’ tool helps you get a better handle on life’s challenges.
- Are you ‘hangry’? Quite often when we’re feeling headless, it’s because we haven’t fed ourselves appropriately. Have some life-giving snacks at your fingertips because we’re not just feeding our body, we’re also nourishing our mood and mental clarity. Make sure you are well hydrated too.
- Move – this is not just about exercise, this is plain movement. If you’re feeling stuck, low or scattered, move your body. It is a natural antidepressant and research shows it boosts creativity so you will be more resourceful in your approach to problem solving. Nothing fancy or elaborate is needed, just a quick walk around the block can do the trick.
- Reach out – take some time to think about who is on your ‘team’. Who are the people you turn to when you need a kind ear, a sounding board, a cheerleader, someone to yoga with, coffee mate, movie buddy, for your body MOT (my physio and hairdresser are definitely on my team). Write down the names of these people and know that there are different times when they each come to the fore. When you’re feeling wobbly, take a peek at your list and reach out to the appropriate person. Social connection feeds the soul so make sure you are investing in these relationships.
- Scent – don’t underestimate the power of scent. It is so quick and effortless. Spritz your favourite fragrance or light a scented candle and stand tall. Take a few deep breaths and relish that moment. For added potency you can pair scent with affirmations too – use a phrase that channels how you want to feel.
- “I have all the time I need”…. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Even if you don’t believe it! This mantra will help you relax and feel a greater sense of spaciousness in your day. It might even help you refine your priorities.
- Mood boosting music – identify your happy tracks and press play when you need a boost. A dose of classical can be medicinal if soothing is what you need.
- Nature’s beauty – drink it in and let it blow away the cobwebs. Nature is another potent antidepressant and helps us connect with what matters most in life. If you can’t get out in it, seek it out from where you are. Maybe it’s the moving cloudscape during your commute or a vase of cut flowers on your desk at work. Be open to the therapeutic power of Nature and self-care becomes so simple and accessible.
- What’s your WHY – so often stress leaves us feeling a bit discombobulated. Remind yourself of the purpose behind your actions and this galvanises us when the tough gets going.
So, self-care needn’t be elaborate, take much time, energy or expense. Turn to these strategies when you’re feeling under the pump and feel the tension dissipate. Better still, engage in them regularly and you’ll have stress rolling off your shoulders before it raises your blood pressure.
These are just a selection of self-care activities. Book in for your complimentary 15 min phone call about how we can create your own bespoke self-care toolkit. It’s time to reclaim your vitality!
Modern life is undeniably full on and somehow as a society we seem to glorify those who never seem to stop. But this ‘sleep when I’m dead’ stuff has serious ramifications. If we don’t tend to our health – and I’m talking emotional, energetic and mental health as well as our physical body, we run the risk of falling into a heap when life tosses us a curve ball. Curve balls come in all sorts of forms – illness, work stress, relationship issues, and even fabulous things like getting a promotion or falling pregnant. We need to find ways to boost our resilience in the face of these inevitable stressors of life. I’d go even one step further – we need to engage in self-care because it is the cornerstone of happiness and wellbeing, and the means by which we become the kind of people we aspire to be. There is nothing selfish about that.
3 ways to destress in less than 60 seconds:
- Use the mantra: ‘I give myself permission to…’ you fill in the blank. For me, I like to pop in the word ‘rest’. It’s amazing the strife we cause ourselves by resisting the way that we feel, denying what we need or just plain wanting things to be different than they are. Use this mantra to create a little more space around your feelings or to free yourself up from guilt about particular actions. Do what you need to do. Allow yourself to feel as you do. This will diminish your stress.
- Zoom in on beauty or something you find captivating. Take a 60 second break from worry, rumination, problem solving or just plain stressing and take a close look at something awe-inspiring. I love to zoom in on the tiny hairs on my little boys face – helps me restrain from wringing his sweet little neck 🙂 Or gaze on natural beauty around you. Seek it out, get absorbed in it and feel how it transforms your mood.
- Get anchored in your body. When you begin to feel flooded by stress hormones or anger, stop and get connected to your physical body. Feel your feet on the floor, your legs if you are standing and elongate your spine. Seek out areas of tension – you are likely to find it in your forehead, eyes, jaw, shoulders, neck and hands. Soften any clenching you find. Next, feel your breathing. See if you can relax into the sensation of breathing and allow your breath to move freely through you. Notice how just anchoring your attention on your body and breath can help you disentangle yourself from stress.
Repeat after me: self-care isn’t selfish.
We all know that to shed unwanted kilos we need to make healthy food choices and exercise regularly, but did you know that to burn fat we need to relax and unwind too?
Why stress is the enemy to weight loss:
- During periods of stress, the ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered and the body is flooded with stress hormones adrenaline, corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. These hormones can make you crave sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods.
- While the immediate response to acute stress can be a diminished appetite, when stress becomes chronic it can make you feel ravenously hungry, adding weight gain to your list of concerns.
- Turning to food for comfort can also become a habit – so be mindful of the activities you choose to relieve stress.
- With your adrenal glands pumping out cortisol, production of the muscle-building hormone testosterone slows down. If this is sustained over a long period of time, the drop in testosterone can cause a decrease in muscle mass, meaning you burn fewer calories and store more fat. While this occurs naturally as we age, high cortisol levels can accelerate this process.
- Stress hormones can also lead to the tendency to store visceral fat around the abdomen, which is linked to an increase in both diabetes and heart disease.
How yoga aids weight loss
- Exercising for too hard for too long can actually raise cortisol levels and make you feel more stressed, inhibiting weight loss. While we need to move to burn fat, we also need to engage in gentler activities like yoga to assist the body in de-stressing, facilitating fat loss.
- Stress interferes with good sleep patterns, in turn raising cortisol and making us feel more stressed out. Yoga can be a fabulous activity to promote better sleep. There are specific sequences you can engage in before going to bed that will help you unwind, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Breathing techniques from yoga can help you get back to sleep quicker when you wake.
- Relaxation produces brain chemicals which are the antidote to stress hormones. Incorporate a regular yoga or meditation practice into your daily schedule to keep the effects of stress at bay and help you feel more resilient when you are under pressure. As little as 7 minutes a day can have potent stress-busting effects.
Yoga in Berkhamsted: making it work for you
- Classes can be a great cost-effective way to incorporate yoga into your weekly routine. I teach a general class at BAYoga, Tuesdays, 1:15-2:15pm which is designed to help strengthen, shape up and stretch our your body. The pace and intensity of the class is specifically chosen to maximise fat loss – working out at the right pace to burn fat and also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you unwind. Check out a studio near you to find a class that fits with your week.
- New mums, it’s your turn. Come and enjoy some postnatal yoga with your baby at Carmenta Life, Mondays, 1:30-2:30pm. We will gently strengthen your core, tone and stretch out your body and replenish a weary mind. Top up your energy levels with yoga designed especially for the postnatal period. We will also do some moves for the babies to develop strength, boost digestion and happily tire them out promoting sleep. Sounds good? Book in to secure you’re place. With a maximum of 10 participants you will get hands on attention.
- Can’t get to classes or don’t feel quite ready? Book in for a private session with me. I will take you through some basic moves to prepare you for group lessons or I can design you a routine to do at home. As little as 7 minutes a day will pave the way for more efficient fat loss and help you navigate periods of stress. All you need in your own body and a little space on the floor, I can provide you with your own bespoke sequences.
Have any questions about making yoga work for you? Interested in a private session? Get in touch! 07951 440 255 or firstname.lastname@example.org