The holiday season is upon us. A time meant for family, friends, love and good cheer. But with all the added social and family obligations, travel arrangements and gift buying, on top of our everyday life commitments, things can get a bit stressful.
For some, it can even be a time wished away, instead of a time relished. In order to feel more of the latter and less of the former, it's important to take care of ourselves during the holiday rush. Therefore, I've come up with a few self-care activities to help keep stress at bay and to hopefully find more joy during the holiday season.
Just keep in mind the advice on self-care I received from Swan River Yoga's certified yoga teacher Claire Privat (who is also a doctoral student in clinical psychology): "If it feels like a chore or another thing looming on your to do list, you won't get as much from it." Instead, she says to remember, "it's all about giving yourself permission to just do it and enjoy it while you're doing it without expectations."
I love a good spa day. Turning off my cell phone, stepping away from my laptop and letting someone cater to me? Yes, please. In addition to their rejuvenating services, Belladonna Day Spa on Magazine St. invites their guests to lounge with a mimosa on their outdoor patio or relax in their sauna beforehand. If there's no time for the leisurely extras, Shine Day Spa in Mid-City is a tranquil option that transforms from a bright storefront to a dimly lit, quiet sanctuary by just turning a corner. Whatever service or spa chosen from the multitude of options in New Orleans, give yourself permission to tune out and let go of any tension.
As I heard a Wild Lotus Yoga instructor put it, restorative yoga is a time to allow ourselves to do nothing. Many people have a hard time doing that, especially considering how electronically connected we all are. However, with guided instruction on how best to support yourself in various reclining poses for several minutes at a time, while listening to calming music and the lull of the instructor's voice, it's easy to give in to it. Even if your mind wanders to your to do list, sometimes in this state of relaxation, our stresses can become more focused and manageable. In addition to Wild Lotus, I highly recommend taking one of Privat's classes at Swan River Yoga – both studios also offer discounted class options - or, if making it to a class isn't feasible, try these poses at home.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Nature has a calming effect on our moods and stress levels. Research proves it. If time is an issue, this might be the best way to add self-care to your busy schedule. Take a lunch or coffee break in a green space without a phone or laptop. The Sculpture Garden at City Park is my favorite place to do that, but It could simply mean just heading outside the office for fresh air. You can also combine cardio with nature by biking/walking/running the tree-lined paths of Audubon Park or along the Mississippi River at Crescent Park. Just make sure to stop and appreciate your natural surroundings. If there's time, go all in by getting out of the city and hike at one of these nearby trails.
Try Something New
Learning an activity completely foreign to you increases the likelihood there won't be enough space in your brain to also worry about holiday/work/life stress. I mean, who's going to obsess over their holiday shopping list while trying to figure out how to hang upside down from a silks hammock without falling to the ground at Fly Circus Space? You could also just let your mind be free of any worry and jump around like a kid, or ninja warrior if you prefer, at a trampoline park. Whatever new activity you attempt, you might just get in a surprisingly good workout, feel a sense of accomplishment and most importantly, have some fun.
Don't Over Extend
This might be the most important activity to partake in: Learn to say no. Show up for the people and activities that are important to you and politely decline the ones that immediately invoke stress. You'll save yourself a lot of aggravation. And, whether it's a financial issue or you're tired of frantically searching for something to buy at the last minute for people who have everything they want or need, maybe say no to gift giving. (Not for your kids obviously) Instead, find a way to spend time with those people, which can be far more meaningful anyway. You could also donate the money not spent on gifts to a favorite charity or find somewhere your group can volunteer together. (Stay tuned for opportunities to do that with Move Ya Brass this holiday season.)
What are your favorite ways during the holidays to achieve more this:
And a lot less this: