I love Winter and I feel honored and excited to celebrate the holiday season. Unfortunately for many people it is a time filled with feelings of stress, anxiety, and guilt. Certainly, we all want to have a stress-free and fun holiday season with our loved ones, and yet sometimes in spite of our best intentions, we get caught up with family obligations, commercial frenzy, and financial forays. The rich activities that begin right after Halloween, builds to Thanksgiving, and continue the momentum through the end of the year with the holiday parties. The stress around this time of the year can leave us depleted and we may question what the holiday season is really about? Many of us know that chronic stress causes imbalance in cortisol levels and deplete vital nutrients in our body. This combination can exacerbate current health issues and can ignite new concerns.
So what can we do to reduce stress, and keep our holiday spirit sparkled? I am grateful to share some useful tips to set intention and attention on peace and gratefulness this holiday season.
Love yourself: I find it very useful to take a holistic approach in caring for myself and others. Spending time revisiting values and guided principles that we strive to live from is a great foundation to identify what is important, and true to us when facing a challenging situation.
For example with family and friends, it is important to be aware of our limitations. Learning how to say “no” instead of “yes” can be an act of self- love. It’s okay to sets limits on what we are not willing to do, or be. Having some boundaries helps us to prevent stress, over-indulgence, and holiday blues. Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can culminate in too much holiday stress and leave us feeling frazzled rather than fulfilled. So, setting our priorities, choosing a few, enjoying them fully and skipping the rest is probably the best gift we could give to ourselves, and others.
Deeper Connections: The winter time gives us an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, with our loved ones, old friends, and our community. Expressing gratitude for what we have, for the feelings, the memories we share, for the beauty of nature brings joy in our heart and soul. It simply feels good to connect more deeply with each other as we take time to listen to each other, and share feelings and experiences. We can also take time to play with kids, and be more like one. It is a fun way to relax.
Make conscious choices to eat healthy food: I have a few patients in Hawi who know their food triggers. These smart women plan ahead and eat healthy nutritious food before going to a party. This helps them to keep blood sugar in check and prevent them from eating junk food. So be selective, aware of your food intake, and practice mindful eating. This will prevent sugar crash, mood swings, as well as overindulgence of food consumption. And yes, you can still savor your favorite treat!
Get plenty of physical activity: When our schedule gets hectic, get creative! Jump rope during TV commercials, breathe in and exhale deeply, dance in the kitchen or take a brisk walk.
Get quality rest: In Oriental Medicine, the theory is that during the winter months it is beneficial to get more sleep than during the rest of the year. Good sleep boosts our energy, helps with concentration, memory and mood.
Quiet restful reflective time: Whether or not we follow an ancient religious observance such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, or Pagan celebration, this time of the year has close ties with the laws and cycles of our solar and planetary system. We human beings are an integral part of nature that affects us in visible and invisible ways, and in this time of the year we can reclaim our connection to Heaven and Earth that touches every aspect of our life.
The Ancient Wisdom of seasonal traditions offers us a chance to experience the rebirth of our own spiritual nature. As nature retreats back to herself in winter, we too can find some quiet restful and reflective time. Perhaps we can surrender to our own inner light, to the natural transformative power that guides us through the dark times like a beacon that reminds us that the seed of light is always present inside of us.
May we find the courage to slow down and let the light and love shine through the cracks of our tender heart.
Whatever tradition you choose to celebrate, may your holidays be shared with good friends and family, and be filled with healthy nutritious food, laughter, light, joy, and love.
Mele Kalikimaka and Peace on Earth,