Updated: Sep 9
Here are 10 ways to attempt to find sanity during times that feel like insanity. Yoga, mindfulness, and Pilates all urge us to slow down and to reflect on our experience. I originally wrote this blog post heading into the holiday season before 2020 but, I find it true and helpful as we move into the somber 2+ year mark of the pandemic. Keep reading til the end to find my updated SOS tool kit.
As I age, I've noticed that I have become more prone to stress and anxiety during the holidays. I think I was conditioned to think and feel that the holidays are a time for family, giving, caring, magic and love. Yes but. Don't you love that phrase! The holiday season has become more complicated. It is also stress from family, financial hardships, not feeling supported or cared for, am I enough for folks, making not the best eating choices (hello sugar!!), I have that extra glass of wine, consume more caffeine than normal, and I am rushed, rushed and rushed. Even when I attempt to not rush, I'm still rushed. Do you relate?
This year I am going to take a more active role in keeping myself sane. By keeping myself sane, I know this will influence my 20 month old daughter by presence and role modeling, and I know my partner will also feed on a more calm me when he gets activated. Win, win and win!
I created this list of ways I am going to commit to this holiday season. I also have my partner creating a list so we know and communicate how we can support each other. Or, at the very least when we feel the unraveling happen, we have something tangible we can point to and be like, "oh yeah! Thanks list!"
1. Unplug - I often unplug during these months. The constant subconscious (sometimes conscious) comparison just sends most of us into or further into a state of anxiety. I'd rather see friends and family's faces on Christmas and New Years cards and in person anyway. Call me old fashioned.
2. Self Care - What are the things that calm you? Bath time? Ayurvedic self massage? Comfort foods? For me, Ayurvedic self massage makes a big difference on my nerves. I do feel it provides "thicker skin" and another layer to coat my frayed nerves. I'll be traveling for Christmas, I plan on taking some Banyan Botanical All Dosha oil with me (although you can just go to a grocery store and get sesame oil or coconut oil. I also recommend reading up on Ayurvedic self massage (read this). I know I do better on decaf than fully loaded, so I am recommitted to decaf and herbal options. If I'm running tired and need to grab that coffee I'm not going to berate myself- it's okay.
3. Community Care - Schedule time with your chosen family. It's amazing what a venting session with a friend or trusted confidant can do for our mental health!! To be heard, and to be validated.
4. Practice presence - The "good vibes only" attitude of is not practicing presence. There is dark with light. How do we know the presence of light if we didn't have the dark? I'm currently reading two books that feel so different, "She Said" by Jodi Kanter and Megan Twohey and "Signs" by Lauren Lynn Jackson. How do we navigate the beautiful and ugly? How do we get comfortable with the uncomfortable? Or maybe it's being open and present to our experience. I'm in the process of cultivating some feeling language with my toddler. In Brene Brown's book "Dare to Lead", she mentions that adults average 4 emotions that are able to be expressed! Four!!! We, as adults, should all be able to communicate 30+ (Google, Brene Brown, List of Core Emotions and there is a fun PDF you can download)!! Fear, happy, sad, and anger are the four we can all know and feel. My toddler knows these. Being able to identify more emotional states, we are then able to better address them, be with them, and know what we need. For example, I have jumped out of my skin a few times this week. When I'm present I can pause and think to myself, "lady, you need to relax, you are running on high alert for no rational reason." So, I book a massage, or yoga sesh, or today I plan on sitting in a quiet place and turning on my meditation app. I get quiet, and attend to the need to calm this nervous system of mine down. I constantly need to repeat to myself, "slow down." This pause allows for reflection: am I anxious? Overwhelmed? Where is this "need" to be on high alert coming from? What feeling do I feel? Naming the feeling gives it less weight. Journaling is another way to practice. This is what I think of when I think of as being present. Being present with the now. Not just for the sunshine, and rainbows. Being present for those moments for giving yourself the mama hug I'd give my daughter.
5. Practice gratitude - I find this helpful for me. I recognize that this can feel artificial and forced for some; If this rings true for you, please don't do it. At the studio we have a practice for 30 days to set a reminder at 12:34pm to remind yourself of something you're grateful for. It does an amazing reset for me. I can feel frazzled, super annoyed with a co-worker or friend, hear the timer and take a deep breath and remind myself, I have clean air, I'm healthy, I have a beautiful, healthy daughter in my life, clean water, I am loved.... And, all the other noise loses some of its power over me. It's also a reminder for me that I have enough. I am enough. 2022 update: My husband initiated at a nightly ritual at dinner we go around the table and share our highlight of the day, and something we are grateful for. Evidence that modeling is seen all around you, just may take some time to infuse.
6. Meditate - It literally rewires the brain. It's a tool for transformation. Big or small. What you're open to. I routinely just want to have a moment of calm. Meditation gives this to me, or reminds me how to return to self.
7. Legs up the wall - Calms down the nervous system. Find a spot at the wall in your home. Roll onto your side and then against the wall (sit bones to the wall as much as possible). Stay there as long as you're comfortable. I find 2-5 minutes does a mind-body good. If you feeling tingling, zap, zing, or as if your legs are falling asleep, roll out.
8. Get outside - Nature and cool air does mind and body good. For me, bonus points if I'm by the ocean. Extra calming! So, bundle up! Don't forget your gloves!
9. Elderberry - Seattle Elderberry I'm giving this gal a go this year to keep us all healthy on the plane, and in a new area of the USA, and back! I recommend Seattle Elderberry because it's local, woman owned, and fabulous! I know I don't think right when I'm not feeling my best, thus this supplement making my list.
10. More ideas - *Slow down*, eat warm foods, and listen to your inner wisdom. Journal. Do some of the things you LOVE. I love to read. I love to watch my daughter explore the world. I love cooking yummy meals and treats!! Much of staying sane is doing small things that amount to bigger changes.
How this might work with a support person - check in:
Are you sticking to your list?
How are you feeling?
How can I make it easier to stick to your list?
Would you like to do one of these together?
How can I help?
Updated 2022 SOS tool kit:
I think Young Living Essential Oils are magic. I love Valor and Stress Away Roll on. They are on the pricey side. May make good stocking stuffers. When I do my movement practice I get to breathe it in as well and it's yummy.
Crystals! I'm a full on believer now. I became a devotee when my first daughter was born. Put them everywhere: your home, your car, your purse, your pocket. They are magic.
Meditation, meditation, meditation
Support System. I've worked super hard to have a safe space for my big feelings. I am an emotional person and in my 40+ years, I surround myself with like minded mamas, and have friends that have been with me through highs and lows and still love me. Seek a therapist if you need extra support. It's a strength to be vulnerable and know when you need help or another perspective.
Movement heals and is medicine.
Good luck out there!