As we move into November many feelings may present themselves, not the least of which is disbelief at how quickly we've moved through summer and fall. We are also faced with the amp up of responsibility we may be forced to endure as a result of the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving is a holiday for family and celebration; a time during which we are able to show appreciation for the many fortunes of our lives. It may also mean an increase in our household makeup (holiday visitors) or maybe a trip (to drive or to fly, that is the question)! Whether you are a visitor or the host, there is a certain dance which must be done when spending time with family. This may cause angst and tension. It is important to keep in mind the point of all this holiday cheer. Which is to be grateful.
Perspective & Realistic Expectation:
To avoid becoming overwhelmed during the holidays, shift your perspective. Yoga gives us practical and applicable techniques you can use to reduce or stave off the stress that often occurs at this time of year. Breathing techniques, the chemicals released when you complete a good workout, and the calm that follows meditation can all be of use. Instead of a strain, this time of year can be an opportunity to remember who you have for resources. Life is demanding and it is so easy to lose touch with important people. A positive of this time of year is the opportunity to reconnect.
Another way in which we can reduce stress is to maintain realistic expectations for ourselves. It is tempting to be grandiose in our plans in an effort to make our family feel welcome or impressed. A better use of your time and energy is to present simple. If you're hosting, it is likely that your family would rather spend time with you, instead of waiting to be wowed by your efforts. If you're visiting, be of use. Just because it's not your party doesn't mean you can kick up your feet. And, turn off the TV! No one needs the extra noise. It's important to take time for yourself. Carve out five minutes of time when you can sit quietly by yourself. Take a class or get a massage. Put some of that extra effort into taking care of yourself and you'll be able to take care of your family with less resentment, anxiety, and stress.
Gratitude may not be in the forefront of your mind in stressful times, but it seems there is good reason for you to make the effort. Several scientific studies have been done in recent years that show the regular infusion of gratitude into your mind increases your happiness and wellbeing. It is also a mindset that can be practiced and increased, so if you're not prone to do it now, you can become more likely to do so with consistent practice.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of practicing gratitude based on externally imposed reasons, such as a federal holiday. But if you're the kind of person who has a hard time seeing how fortunate you really are, now is an excellent time to practice. If you can't find something that moves you to expand that sensation of gratefulness in yourself, be the reason someone else is grateful. Make yourself available to make someone else's life a little easier. That will always be worth the effort, and may serve as much needed reminder of how good they have it.
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