As November and December roll around each year there’s always a lot of emotions surrounding this time, ranging from stress and anxiety to happiness and sadness, or even a blend of these feelings the holidays tend to evoke emotion in all of us. This year, consider incorporating these effective holiday stress relief tips to maintain your sanity during this festive period.
Meditation for Stress Relief and Grounding
Meditation is the first on our list, and it’s for a good reason. Finding peace in the present and calming your mind and body is the first step towards optimal stress relief. When people think of meditation they often think of a task that appears to be unobtainable, but the good news is meditation can be quick and easy! A “meditation” is any time you can find yourself breathing and aware in the present moment, whether it be for a few minutes or 10-20 minutes and beyond.
One simple meditation that is helpful during the holidays is STOP Meditation. This meditation offers an easy way for you to stop and drop into the present moment. Let’s do it together.
S – Stop and ground yourself into the present moment. Look around, observe your surroundings, the sights, smells, etc…
T – Take a deep breath. Take 3-5 conscious deep belly breaths to calm your nervous system.
O – Observe the sensations in your body. If your stress and anxiety is high, take a few more rounds of breath, close your eyes, loosen your jaw and try to relax into the present moment.
P – Peace in the Present. Enjoy the sensations of the present moment, calming the mind of racing thoughts, and relish in your deep belly breathing.
You can now proceed with compassion and awareness of yourself and others. Honoring the space you are in now, and being aware that others may be feeling similar emotions during this time.
Yin Yoga Practice
Now that you’ve grounded yourself into the present moment, if you have the time and space for it gentle yoga is a great next step in finding stress relief during the holidays.
Yoga should be relaxing, a lot of today’s yoga is fitness based which is great if you are looking for a workout, but not so much if you are looking to zen out. Yin Yoga is a perfect alternative to the traditional “yang” style yoga we often think of.
Yin yoga targets your deep connective tissues like your fascia, ligaments and joints offering a more restorative practice for your mind and body. Since you are holding these poses for much longer than traditional yoga poses you are teaching your mind and body to sit through discomfort and in turn sit with your thoughts, eventually letting them go. I find yin to be a great practice to relieve stress as it’s meant to go deep and really forces you to slow down.
YouTube is a great place to start if you are looking for a yin yoga class. They have practices ranging from 5-10-30+ minutes long, and are all free! Consider a gentle yoga practice this holiday season to relieve stress.
PRO TIP – if you are looking for an even greater stress relief practice with less movement consider Yoga Nidra, which offers a deep meditative state where you practice solely in savasana for an even deeper state of zen.
Sound Bath / Sound Therapy
Utilizing sound vibration for healing has been going on since the beginning of time from Ancient Egyptians and Greeks using musical instruments and chants to invoke healing, to Tibetian monks using singing bowls in combination with sacred mantras and chants. An easy way to find benefits from sound therapy is through sound baths, or recordings of sound baths on your favorite music app. If you’ve never been to a sound bath I encourage you to find one in your local area, or search Sound Baths on YouTube.
If the holidays have your mind in a tizzy, settle onto your mat or comfy chair, grab your favorite blanket and eye pillow and close your eyes. Once you turn on the sound bath you will very quickly notice the sound vibrations starting to calm your mind and body. The vibrations from the singing bowls begin to vibrate through your being breaking up any stagnant energy from within.
Anecdotally, many people have noticed a general sense of stress relief, and the ability to fall asleep faster as the sound vibrations are tuning into your alpha state of mind vs our typical beta state. Sound baths are a great way to ease the tension from holiday stress and offer you relief when you have 20-60 minutes available for the experience.
If sound baths aren’t your thing, or you don’t want to be stuck inside, because hello daylight savings time – where is the light!? Nature walks are an amazing alternative for stress relief during the holidays. While the weather may be touch and go during this time, if you find that there is some good Vitamin D radiating outside, now is the time to get out there and enjoy it.
A recent Instagram post by @iamannikanicole outlined many of the sheer differences our mind and body experience in summer vs. winter time and it really stuck with me. During the winter we are exposed to very little Vitamin D, typically less than 12 hours of sunlight a day. We also consume warmer, more hearty meals, warm drinks, and more starches, and in general things feel more sluggish and slow. As a result we may feel that seasonal depression creeps in.
Any time the weather is nice enough, and you have enough sunlight to enjoy some time outside I highly recommend it. Nature is also naturally very grounding and evokes a sense of gratitude. I challenge you to take some time outside in nature to help with the holiday stress relief.
Warm Cup of Tea
There’s a reason why you feel like a warm cup of tea is like a hug. The ritual of boiling a cup of tea is very comforting for people. Scientifically, tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which promotes relaxation. In this sense, tea is unique in that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine means it may promote a sense of mindful alertness. If you want to skip the caffeine you will still reap the benefits of a cup of tea.
I enjoy a cup of yogi tea every evening, and the benefits of it offer ample holiday stress relief. You can also choose specific wellness blends of tea made for stress relief. As an added boost I like to pick blends that include immune support, like this Yogi Brand – Elderberry Lemon Balm and Stress Support Blend, especially during the winter months to fend off any sickness.
A new trend that has been coming up online in the last few years, but is rooted in tradition is face rolling or gua sha techniques. Face rolling is a simple practice you can utilize daily to reduce puffiness and inflammation, improve lymphatic flow, cools and soothes the skin, and provides relaxation. There are many different face rollers available from jade and quartz crystal rollers, to cooling rollers which offer an added benefit due to the icy cold effect on your skin.
Typically if I am looking for holiday stress relief I utilize a cooling face roller on my face, neck, shoulders and even the rest of my body. It’s a great practice to slow down and offer a personal self massage to your face. You really don’t realize the amount of tension you hold in your face until you stop and notice it!
Face rollers are also great for headache relief, sinus congestion, unclogging pores, lift and depuff your face providing a natural glow, and so much more.
Plant Medicine Wellness
If you’ve made it this far and are still feeling stress from the holiday season, one further solution is plant-based medicine. Personally I find plant-based medicine to offer a great deal of stress relief, as it allows me to slow down my mind and body and really enjoy the present moment. Consuming edibles has been my latest go-to as I’ve found them to offer a more consistent “high” versus combusting plant medicine.
My latest favorites include Crescent Canna’s Infused Seltzers – available in 5-50 MG options, and their Delta-9 Canna moon gummies in 5-25 MG options. I always recommend slow and low so these low dose options are the perfect starter option!
If consumption isn’t your thing, but your body is feeling the aches and pains of the cold winter months, my everyday go to is the CBD Recovery Cream.
If you want to give them a try use the code “GREENLOVE” for additional savings.
Holiday Stress Relief
No matter what tip you pick for holiday stress relief, it’s bound to help you feel better during this hectic time of year. It’s imperative to take time for yourself this holiday season so you can show up as your best self to others. Whether you choose to do a yin yoga practice, a STOP meditation, a nature walk or a combination of these tips they are bound to offer you some holiday stress relief.
Let me know your favorite way to unwind during the holidays!
All photos by Jarrod Mason / YouWho Digital