BY THE CHOPRA CENTER FOR WELLBEING
During the holidays, many of us experience a perplexing array of emotions. We may feel simultaneous joy and anxiety about spending extended time with loved ones. Our hearts may be filled with love as well as mingled feelings of sorrow, loss, or longing. Sacred traditions and holiday rituals can inspire us ─ or leave us feeling like there’s too much to do.
If you find yourself feeling out of sorts, the following suggestions can help you restore your balance, soothe your stress, and expand your experience of joy.
Tune in to your inner wisdom
Since ancient times, winter has been a time for deep rest and going within. Even as the outer world encourages the hustle and bustle, try not to let the demands of travel, family visits, and parties throw you off balance ─ stay centered and calm by maintaining time in your daily schedule to practice meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness tools.
Create new family dynamics
When we gather with our parents, siblings, and other close relatives, there is a natural tendency to regress to our old behaviors. Here are few suggestions that will help you stay in your most evolutionary, adult self:
- Remember that regression is natural ─ unfortunately, there is usually one family member who tends to create a stressed environment. Most likely, this person is insecure and may feel more comfortable reverting everyone back to old patterns. Make a conscious choice to not give in to these behaviors.
- Practice seeing your family with “fresh eyes.” Try to imagine you’re meeting this person for the first time, without the accumulation of stories and opinions you’ve been carrying. What do you notice about your own reaction and behavior when you’re not assuming you already know who this individual is? Are you more compassionate? More honest?
Be present and breathe
As you celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones, you may find it helpful to set the intention to be present. Sometimes your mind will take you out of the moment, so be gentle with yourself and stay with the intention to spend as much time as you can in the present. Use your breath to enter the peace of present moment awareness. Remember to pay attention to each inhalation and exhalation.
Understand your unique stress response
The healing system known as Ayurveda teaches that the way we react to stress is greatly determined by our individual mind-body constitution, known as our dosha. Here are the stress patterns of the three main doshas:
Vata: Those who are predominantly Vata types have the greatest tendency to become anxious and worried when they are out of balance. Normally creative and enthusiastic, Vatas tend to blame themselves when problems arise and can become extremely nervous and scattered when their stress levels are too high.
Pitta: Pitta types are usually warm and loving, but if they’re out of balance, they typically react to stress by finding fault with other people and becoming angry.
Kapha: The most even-tempered dosha is Kapha. Kapha types are usually calm and gentle, but when faced with overwhelming conflict or stress, they may withdraw and refuse to deal with the situation.
Take the Chopra Center’s Dosha Quiz at www.chopra.com/doshaquiz to identify your mind-body type and learn more healing techniques that reduce stress and restore balance.
Whether you take a brisk walk, work out at the gym, go running, skiing, or salsa dancing, regular exercise is one of the most powerful ways to release stress and elevate your mood.
Connect with nature
Spending time in nature is deeply restorative. Even if you can only go outside for a few minutes, take time each day to nourish each of your senses with nature’s beauty and healing power.
Eat warm, soothing foods
As the weather becomes cold and dry, it’s important to eat warm, nourishing meals and drink more hot beverages during the day. Try delicious soups, cooked whole grains, and nourishing stews and casseroles.
Open to gratitude
Each day this holiday season, take a few moments to consider all of the blessings in your life – breathe and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible. Feel your body and acknowledge what a miracle it is just to be alive right now. Feel the love, compassion, and understanding that gratitude brings into your heart.
Notice how gratitude brings your attention into the present time, which is the moment in which miracles can unfold. The deeper your appreciation, the more you see with the eyes of the soul and the more your life flows in harmony and balance.