We’re halfway through December and for many of us that means preparing for and celebrating the end-of-year holidays. Hanukkah is over. But Christmas, Kwanzaa and the joy of New Year’s Eve are on the way. This can be a joyful time where we connect and reconnect with friends and family. As this is our second holiday season during a global pandemic, we may really be looking forward to this downtime. Or we may be anxious about both the hectic holidays AND the threats brought on by the pandemic. UGH!
As moms, a lot of the planning and preparation for the holidays fall on us. We want to make the holidays memorable for our families while keeping them safe. So, at this point in the month, even the most prepared of us, are beginning to feel stressed. Now is the time for some yuletide yoga. I know what you’re thinking – Dr Nay, I barely have time to prepare for the holidays much less take a yoga class. But that’s not what I mean. Yoga basically means that which brings you to reality. It refers to union of your mind, body, and soul. Stress is the opposite of this. Here are a few things you can do to practice yoga and reduce yuletide stress.
Make a list and check it twice
It’s time to get organized. Write down everything you have left to do to get ready for the holidays. Look at your calendar and perhaps your budget. Now be realistic about what you can do. Be honest with yourself. What on your list is essential and aligned with your family’s values? What would be nice but not necessary? What can go? Only keep those things on the list that keep you in union with yourself and with your family.
Use the elves
You don’t have to do everything alone. Share what’s left on your to do list with others. You don’t have to do all the decorating and cookie baking and what not by yourself. So what if it’s not perfect, let your kids help. Part of the holiday magic is learning how to create that magic. Some of my favorite memories include a clump of decorations on one side of the tree at toddler height. The tree that year was perfect because my son was proud of being big enough to help decorate it.
Focus on what makes the holidays special for you and your family. In a few years, will your child remember the random gift gathering dust or spending quality time with their mom? If your extended family is the problem, now is the time to set boundaries. Your child(ren) deserve to see their mom at her best and not triggered by the negative emotions brought on by other family members.
Stick to your routine
No one wants to be around a toddler who missed their nap or a teenager who hasn’t eaten. Keeping up a schedule is good for you too. It is important to take care of yourself in order to deal with stressors that may come up around the holidays.
Seek professional help if need be
Many people get “the blues” at this time of year. But if you know that you are prone to depression or if you are dealing with loss of a loved one or anxiety due to the pandemic, it is okay to get treatment. You can pray to sweet baby Jesus AND go to therapy. You can ask Allah for aid AND get professional counseling assistance.
Lastly, take a break and DO SOME YOGA
You didn’t think I was going to actually leave the practice of breathing and postures off the list, did you? See below for a yoga sequence you can do in 5 minutes alone or with your family.
Find a comfortable seated position. Whether in a chair or seated on a bed or the floor, sit up straight. Relax your forehead and your jaw. Drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth. If you feel comfortable enough, close your eyes or keep your gaze soft. Place your hands in your lap or along your sides. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4. Hold the breath for 4 and then exhale slowly through your nose for 4. Repeat this 3-5 times. On your next inhale, bring your shoulders up to your ears and then release them down your back. As you do this, you should fell the physical tension being released from your upper back. Do this a few times. Now inhale your hands up above your head. Twist your upper body to one side. Then rainbow your hands down so that the front hand is on the opposite leg and the other hand is behind your back. Breathe deeply in this gentle twisted position for 3-5 long breaths before repeating on the other side. Come back to center. Repeat the 4-4-4 breathing from the beginning of the sequence.
Open your eyes gently and you should feel ready to move on with your day.
Wishing you the Best,
Bio: Nadine Finigan-Carr, PhD, affectionately called “Dr Nay,” is a mom, prevention scientist, and trained yoga instructor. Her research focuses on preventing risk behaviors in children and adolescents so that they can thrive. She is the author of Linking Health and Education for African American Students’ Success (Routledge Press). For more information see her website: www.nadinefinigancarr.com