Tuesday Talk: Get Calm, Enjoy the Holidays!

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Tis the season!

Tis the season of joy and togetherness, eating and greeting.

OR

Tis the season of obligations and planning, gorging and small talk.

It all depends on how you look at it, right?

How can we choose to see the former when sometimes the holiday hustle bustle has us thinking the latter?

The answer: Get calm!

Once you get calm, you’ll be able to truly enjoy the holidays, to soak up the moments and not feel frazzled come 2015.

How can we do this? As I work to fend off holiday frazzle lately, here are the things that have worked best for me:

Channeling my inner child:

I may have a slight advantage here, as I am surrounded by elementary school children every day. But I see their excitement about Christmas, about the mystery of it all, and I can’t help but feeling some of that pure joy and excitement. Remember when you were little and Christmas was full of magic and mystery and cousins and presents and yummy food and waking up at 4am? Remember the anticipation and the excitement and staying in your pj’s all day? Then we get older and it becomes much more about planning to do as many festive things as possible, about making sure that everything is just so. Well, when I conjure up that pure joy of childhood-and make plans to stay in my pj’s as long as possible on Christmas morning, have a Christmas movie marathon with [boozy] soynog, and build a fort in the living room- the holidays suddenly seem much more ‘alive’ and exciting.

Taking delight:

As mentioned, tis the season of eating! But when I start to think of each treat as something that I can just delight in for a few seconds, a few things happen. First, as I smile and say ‘mmmmm’ when I am offered a treat, I have slowed down my eating. Therefore, I will truly taste that chocolatey pepperminty crunch or that warm homemade bread. If I take delight in food, and take the time to really enjoy the taste and texture of it, I can be satisfied sooner and won’t overindulge. Secondly, guilt lessens when I take delight in food and treats. Again, when I slow down and enjoy the treat as just that, I don’t feel guilty. I feel appreciative that someone shared something delightful with me! This might sound like a way of tricking the brain into not feeling bad about eating unhealthfully, but what do I have to feel guilty about when I see food as a gift and take the time to truly enjoy it and feel delighted by it?

(Can you tell I really like the word delight 🙂 )

Being kind to my body:

So, taking delight doesn’t mean overeating or gorging on treats. When I slow down and listen to my body, I know that just because that one treat was good doesn’t mean that four is better. Really delighting in the one treat is far more satisfying than scarfing four and not really tasting them at all and then feeling sick and guilty. Additionally, I’ve really had to turn on my self-control to stay away from things that I know won’t make me feel good. Like yesterday when a co-worker brought in a scrumptious-looking quiche. I walked by it so many damn times…I wanted some….but I knew it was full of milk and I knew that that milky quiche would do quite the opposite of delight me. So I had to let it go eventually 😦 Lastly, making sure that I am keeping my body moving keeps me feeling healthy and not bogged down in sugar this time of year. Cross-country skiing, yoga, snowboarding. Yes,yes, yes.

Creating a calm bubble:

Speaking of yoga…..

I don’t often talk about yoga or meditation on this blog for fear of just sounding to hokey and too much like a Boulder hippie.

Did i say that out loud?…oops…

A hippie. Ahem.

But I love yoga. I practice yoga almost every day at home and once a week in a class here at school taught by a co-worker. Since becoming addicted to yoga, many wonderful and happy things have happened in my brain and body, but perhaps we can talk about that later.

But I learned something recently that has really helped me create positive space for myself, in whatever kind of positive light I need at the time that I do this. Now, I don’t really like the word meditation because to me, and probably to many others, it conjures up way too many images of Boulder…I mean…it sounds really hippy dippy. Maybe I need to get over that?

Anyways, I prefer to say ‘I spent time being still,’ to ‘I spent time meditating.’ I don’t know why, but I just like it more. During a recent meditation/stillness session in the above-mentioned yoga class taught by a coworker we were instructed to do this:

Sit in a comfortable position. Once you are comfortable and your breathing is steady, raise your arms and bring your hands overhead as you inhale. Pause. Bring your arms down as you exhale. Continue until you feel calmer and/or satisfied.

You are drawing an imaginary bubble around yourself. This is your safe space.

To accentuate the awesome affects of having your very own bubble, add an affirmation that speaks to what you really need that day. I like to do one on the inhale, one on the exhale, and sometimes one on the pause. Examples of my affirmations in recent weeks:

Inhale: Gather in calm. Exhale: Push away frazzle.

Inhale: Breathe in health. Pause: I am well. Exhale: Breathe out illness.

Inhale: Breathe in present moment. Exhale: Breathe out future moments.

I don’t know if the way I do things is proper, but I find that breathing in the things I need/want to be stronger and exhaling the things I need to go the heck away really works for me. This has done wonders for highlight positivity, centering me, clearing the mind, and really letting me enjoy little moments more!

I’m looking forward to a calm, centered, and quite delightful holiday season this year, and hope you are too 🙂

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