Tips to Stay Healthy and Joyful This Holiday Season

Screenshot 2017-11-26 19.52.35.png

Holidays are often a time of added stress for many.  I know that in my own life Thanksgiving and Christmas were quite painful for several years after my mother died.  She passed away when I was 21 and for years our family struggled finding a new holiday tradition.  My mother was the matriarch of the family and all our gatherings were always centered around her.  With her gone, holidays felt empty and painful. Everything changed. Holidays would bring up feelings of depression, pain, grief, loneliness, and for me each holiday became an anniversary of the last one which made it even more depressing. I do realize that “time is a great healer.” There is so much truth in that.  Our family switched things up and created new traditions so the holidays didn’t feel like we were just trying to recreate what we had because, frankly, it can never be the same.  I share that with you to help support you trying something new when the way things are done during the holidays don’t work for you anymore.   Something that also helped me is to not try and be anything other than I am.  I now allow myself to fully feel the sadness and depression when it arises. And there are always some certain triggers that do that to me. I remember one year my sisters and I were making some of our family holiday foods, laughing, talking, and watching old home videos having a lot of fun.  At one point some old home videos played with my mother in them. I watched as that ONE trigger shifted my whole holiday. I spiraled into a depression.  Please have compassion on yourself when this happens. Its natural and its okay.  Spiritual wisdom teaches us to observe ourselves with compassionate LOVE.  Hold space for whatever is coming up within you.

Below are a few sources of stress around the holidays:

  • Unhappy memories. Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet. “During the holidays, a lot of childhood memories come back,” says Duckworth, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard University Medical School. “You may find yourself dwelling on what was inadequate about your childhood and what was missing.” If you associate the holidays with a bad time in your life — the loss of a loved one, a previous time of depression– this time of year will naturally bring those memories back.
  • Toxic relatives. Holidays can put you in the same room with relatives you avoid the rest of the year.
  • What’s changed. The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives — a divorce, a death in the family, a son who’s making his first trip back home after starting college. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.
  • What’s stayed the same. For others, it’s the monotonous sameness of family holiday gatherings that depresses them — the same faces, the same jokes, the same food on the same china plates.
  • Lowered defenses. During the holiday season, you’re more likely to be stressed out by obligations and errands. It’s cold and flu season and your immune system is under assault. It’s getting dark earlier each day. You’re eating worse, sleeping less, and drinking more. By the time the family gathering rolls around, you’re worn out, tense, and fragile. The holiday stress makes it harder to cope with your family than it might be at other times of the year.

A few supplements that have supported my immune system during the holidays and winter season are below.  My sister shared these with me years ago and we still use this winter regimen to help support our immune system.  Obviously I am not a doctor but I am sharing what has helped me:

  • Elderberry juice
  • Vitality C
  • Vitamin K2D3
  • Vitamin E plus selenium combo
  • NAC (n-acetyl-l-cysteine) 

To avoid even more stress as you enter the Season to be Jolly, Holiday Stress Relief Expert Lauren E. Miller, gives people real tips on how to have more joy and less stress in the midst of the holiday madness. “Stress is simply a signal within your body giving you an amazing opportunity to identify and adjust your perception of a situation, along with your behavior. We forget that whatever we focus on grows bigger quickly – positive or negative,” says Miller

Know what you value most in life. When your priorities are clear, decisions are easy. Stress creeps in when you forget what you value most in life. When you spend most of your energy on the “non-essentials” in life you begin to feel depleted very quickly and the stress hormone begins to double. Create moments every day that nurture what you value most in this life and notice how quickly clarity of thinking and inner peace return within your being.

Let go of this belief: “In order to be loved and accepted I need to be perfect, have the perfect house, Christmas tree, job, car, person, family, job, credentials.” What is your inner list of requirements in order to feel loved and accepted in life? Let go of your need for certain outcomes around the Holidays in order for you to feel good about yourself. Happiness returns when you release the attachments you have in life in order to feel good about you. “Remember, joy flows from the inside out, not the outside in. Start loving yourself completely just as you are, right where you are at,” Miller says.

Breathe, Breathe, Breathe and be present to the “Silent, Holy, Night” that dwells within every moment of life. Give yourself the gap of empowerment that comes when you become the observer of your life verses the reactor. Be a curious and fascinated human being who looks at everything before them as an opportunity for learning and growth. When one door closes, don’t waste one moment looking at that closed door, start seeking the open window. “Don’t miss life, when you worry, doubt and fear; you miss the life standing right in front of your face. When you are present you will laugh more in life which has profound physiological benefits, another wonderful gift to give yourself and those around you this season,” Miller says.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful.  I try to eat cleaner and get to bed earlier this time of year to also help keep my immune system stronger.  Below I’m posting a kundalini kriya that I have done consistently around the holidays to help eliminate stress. It works!   It’s called 33 Minutes to Eliminate Stress.  If you are looking for something different and something to commit to to help your stress levels during the holidays try  the following.

33 Minutes to Eliminate Stress

If you are looking for a few restorative Yoga poses to practice at home. These are lovely.  Click here.

If you have anxiety try practicing long deep breathing to this picture.

Happy Holidays.

Blessings to your health this holiday season. 
Sandra Vanatko
Indra’s Grace at 3 Tree Yoga