Yoga Tips for Surviving the Holidays

By María

The festivities are here! Wait a moment. Is that a good or a bad thing?

It probably depends on the person and the circumstances. Holidays are meant to be celebrated. They are supposed to bring people together. The season invites us to be joyful and merry. Getting together with beloved friends and family, sharing a good time and enjoying a delicious meal is expected during a celebration. Towards the end of every year starting with Halloween, the “Holiday Season’ starts in the United States. It does not matter if you are religious or not, the collective holiday madness begins no matter how you feel about it.

Hopefully for the majority of people, these holidays represent a cheerful time. For some people these dates mean joy, happiness and glee but for others, the holidays may trigger unpleasant feelings such as depression, anxiety and/or stress. For other people like me, even though I enjoy what the holidays bring, they also can make me anxious and somewhat stressed at times.

As a yoga teacher and practitioner for over 15 years, my practice has given me tools to learn how better to cope with these unwelcome feelings. These tools have helped me (and still do) identify what I am going through. They have taught me how to channel my emotions appropriately without too much, if any, collateral damage.

If you are like me around the holiday season or any time of the year, you will find useful the tips I share below. I will provide you with some tools I use that make me surf the holidays like a real pro.

1. Breathe: This is my first tip for good reason. Never underestimate the power of the breath over your state of mind. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable or stressful situation, give yourself a moment to take three to five deep conscious breaths. Breathe more times if you can. While the benefits of breathing are uncountable, here are some of that will make you want to take some breaths more often:

    • It calms the nervous system: breathing turns on the parasympathetic nervous system bringing us to a relaxed state so it helps you manage stress.
    • It releases muscle tension.
    • It reduces anxiety levels.
    • It can calm the mind. It will help you focus and concentrate. Process things better and easily.
    • It releases endorphins (the hormones that makes you feel good).
    • It lowers blood pressure.
    • It increases energy and improves the respiratory system.

2. Count slowly from one to ten (or twenty, thirty, etc): Giving your mind a specific task like counting, helps you focus on something that will mentally take you out of a stressful situation.

3. Choose a mantra and use it: Find a short sentence that you will repeat to yourself out loud or softly. Let it be anything you need it to be. Good examples are: ‘I can do this’, ‘I am worthy’, ‘This too shall pass’, etc. Mantras work like tip #2. They will make the mind focus on the words you are repeating rather than on the uncomfortable situation. This way, you will have time to redirect the negative energy.

4. Be ready: If you know you will be encountering unavoidable stressful situations prepare yourself in advance. Have answers ready for edgy questions and situations. Learn to politely withdraw yourself from triggering conversations and surroundings. Find a relative or friend to help you redirect unwelcome conversations or comments. Do not be afraid of saying ‘I don’t want to talk about it”.

5. Enjoy yourself: Try not to stress too much about the social gathering. Do not precipitate yourself about having a ‘bad time’. Stay present and enjoy the moment. Find the positive in every situation. Wear something that makes you feel good and comfortable. Focus on having a pleasant time!

6. Repeat #1 as needed.

Make sure you are not overthinking things. Sometimes we unnecessarily over complicate situations. Maintain a positive attitude and state of mind. Keep in mind that it is a time to celebrate. To enjoy time together. Remember that there is always good and bad in every situation but we have the power to choose where to focus and send our energy. It is up to us. Try to relax and be yourself.

If these lines resonate with you please feel free to share them with your friends and family.

Happy Holidays!

Maria V. Garcia

Instagram, Facebook and Medium: @migraineyogi


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