All too often holidays can be a source of stress for people. Shopping, traveling, planning, cooking, and socializing can be overwhelming at best! We may feel like we have more to juggle than we can handle and that there never seems to be enough time to finish off that to-do list.
Here are a few tips that can help you when you feel caught up in a whirlwind of constant activity and need to feel more grounded and relaxed. This understanding can make the difference between an uplifting holiday experience and a draining, depleting one.
Why we get overwhelmed
Having too much to do and too little time to do it will automatically create stress. Of course being organized and having realistic expectations is the first step towards keeping yourself calm and balanced. What needs to get done will get done faster, more efficiently and with greater joy if we learn to stay in the present moment and are grounded in what we are doing. When there is so much to do we tend to let the mind race (expectations and worries about the outcome of an action) or we stop being mindful amidst our actions (trying to be in two places at once etc). That splits the mind and aggravates Vata (air and space elements respectively, in the body and mind).
When the air and space elements increase, we will automatically start to feel less grounded, we’ll have difficulty concentrating or taking in information, or remembering what we have to do. It really is a catch-22. When Vata increases we may feel more anxious, more sensitive in general (i.e. to loud noises, people or other stimulus) and feel unable to handle stress very well. In the body, you may experience difficulty falling asleep, have tension headaches or dry skin, for example. The more we let the air and space elements, or Vata, take over and become too aggravated, the less effective we become. The less effective we are, the more overwhelming what we have to do will feel.
Knowing this we can do very simple things to help restore balance.
Free your mind! Get things out of your head and onto paper. Make a list of all that you can think of that needs to be done and prioritize. Keep a small pad of paper with you and write all those little details that inevitably will come up in the mind and that you cannot juggle immediately such as “ask Paul to get wrapping paper when he calls” or “Tell Kim to bring the candles” or “pack clean wipes for the kids”… What you do not write down immediately, you will inevitably try to hold onto in your mind so you don’t forget. Not only does that make you less present to what you are doing but it also splits the mind and further aggravates Vata.
2. “Get-back–into-your-body breaks”
Whenever we really get drowned amidst action, stressed about a deadline, and especially when we get entangled with desiring certain outcomes, our productivity goes way down … it can be a vicious cycle. The mind is basically on overload and disconnected from the body. We are no longer in the present moment and able to be clear and efficient. The motility and the lightness of Vata are taking over, and to feel better we need to ground ourselves and get centered again.
You can decide to sit down for a few minutes of meditation, do a few yoga postures or simply close your eyes, take a deep breath, let go and become aware of your body. Feel where you are holding tension. Just let go and relax. Feel the weight of your body on your feet or the chair on which you are sitting. You can easily do this exercise anywhere and if need be with your eyes open. The point is to get back to yourself and become present in your body again. A few moments will make you feel much calmer, refreshed and ready for action again.
If you are having difficulty letting go of tension, try lying down on the floor with your legs on the seat of a chair or in your bed with a pillow under your knees. Open your hands, turn your palms upward, close your eyes and breathe. This supportive and nurturing pose may help you to relax and let go more easily. If you find that your mind is still racing, you can apply the vata-pacifying Calming Essence to pulse points to help calm tension and agitation in the mind.
After an especially rushed day or after you have been traveling (remember lots of movement will aggravate Vata) a nice way to ground yourself and let go of tension and get ready for a good and restorative night’s sleep is to massage your feet and/or your head (the Calming Body Oil and Hair and Scalp Oil could each be very beneficial here). A warm bath or shower also does wonders to alleviate excess Vata by being warming, hydrating and grounding. Moisturizing the body is also key in grounding Vata. If the skin is excessively dry, try using the Daily Repair Body Treatment before applying the Nourishing Body Silk or, if the skin is also sensitive, the Hydrating Body Silk.
3. Take a quiet moment
Keeping quiet for even just a few moments here and there will calm Vata. It will allow you to get centered and grounded and will calm down your mind. A lot of energy is lost when we keep chatting with others mindlessly, so arresting that even for a few moments will be very helpful.
4. Keep warm
Bundle up when you go out and make sure you wear a hat (especially if it is windy). You need the warmth to balance the coolness of Vata
5. Keep an eye on your routine
During the holiday season you probably will be going to bed later than usual, traveling more, eating at odd hours and in one way or another maintaining an irregular routine. Irregularity, as we have mentioned earlier is a quality of the air element and as such will increase Vata in your body and mind. Knowing this, make sure that whenever possible you strive to keep a balanced routine and that you get back to your regular routine as soon as possible after your social obligations are over.
6. Eating mindfully, choose the right foods
Eating on the run, standing up while eating, or eating while doing other things will all aggravate Vata, plus you will not be able to actually digest properly the food you are eating. Eating large amounts of foods that are cold, dry, raw, bitter, astringent or pungent will also naturally increase Vata. Being aware of this and if you are offered a choice, you can select foods that are warm, grounding and nourishing, slightly oily, more liquid etc to bring a greater balance in your body and mind. Having slightly more emphasis in a meal on sweet, sour and salty tastes will also be Vata-pacifying.
7. Stay hydrated
Alcohol, cigarettes and coffee are Vata-aggravating (drying, uncentering etc). Make sure you drink plenty of water, preferably warm, to compensate (remember you are trying to balance the coldness and dryness both).
8. And lastly…don’t take yourself too seriously and let go of what you can’t get done
People want to spend time with you! No one will mind the pile of laundry or recycling you wanted to get squared away before everybody shows up!