Happy holistic Holidays, Charlie Brown!
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose..." Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, for many people around the world it's the time of year for celebration, family gatherings and togetherness. Enjoying some of our favorite traditional meals while giving thanks around the dinner table, exchanging well thought out and perfectly wrapped presents, and spending some quiet and relaxing time with each other, Right? Well....as we may have come to realize, it doesn't always work out that way. Whilst this may be a special time of year for many, it can also be very stressful, emotional, hectic and frustrating with worries around finances, having to deal with the family gatherings...certain family members in particular, and not to mention the dreaded weight gain after indulging those extra buttery and sugary treats...just one more cookie...yikes!
When you look at the "to do" list, It can feel like things are a little out of control, yet aren't those feelings in somewhat familiar territory? Do you remember feeling the same way last year around this time, and what about the year before that? It's almost as if it's expected! It's as though we give ourselves the gift of stress all the while buying lovely presents for others! Does that seem right to you, and would you like to perhaps do things a little differently this year? Yes the "to do" list still will get done (or maybe tossed)but what matters most is the approach in doing so. Dr. Wayne Dyer says "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change", it's all up to you and it begins with a choice. Affirm to yourself "I am worthy and deserving of the time and energy I give to myself to feel centered, relaxed and balanced." By giving yourself the opportunity to think outside the box of your usual approach, you will create a space of seeing things unfold in a newer more balanced perspective which will manifest in your life long term.
We may have heard this word tossed around a few times, but what does it really mean and how do we apply it on a daily basis? Mindfulness means paying close attention to what's happening right now, being present or awareness. Ok, you might be thinking "how do I practice awareness when the "to do" list is staring me in the face?" There's a difference with planning ahead and worrying about those plans. Most of us are either stuck in past events or we get caught up in the worrying, or repetitively thinking about the many different scenarios of how things will unfold, which is time consuming and irrelevant. Most of what we worry about never happen! So, try instead to create your plans or goals, visualize the positive outcome (see yourself getting things done in an effective way with lots of time to spare) and then Let Go, let the universe do the rest, and detach from the outcome. It is the key to really enjoying your life!
Mindfulness can also be applied during family gatherings and parties. The dreaded comments from uncle Frank or colleagues which make you feel less than confident or hurtful. Your usual response would be to either shrink to invisibility or to react with anger and say something hurtful back. Instead, choose Love and take nothing personally! Understand that people are often reacting from their own space of pain or ego, and by choosing to respond with love you will be a part of shifting that energy from a rollercoaster of negativity and more pain to one of awareness and healing. The choice is always yours. Mahatma Ghandi says, "There's a force in the universe, which, if we permit, will flow through us and produce miraculous results." By giving ourselves permission to let go, we trust that the universe wants to support us in our co-creation.
"Around us, life bursts with miracles. If we live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere."- Thich Nhat Hahn
EAT, SWEAT, SLEEP...and breathe
Ok, here it is...ever feel tired after a holiday turkey meal yet blame the tryptophan for the tiredness? Well, that's not entirely true, while turkey does contain tryptophan, chicken, pork and beef all have more. The truth is, it's the overeating, sugary foods like the double servings of pumpkin and apple pie and unhealthy carbs like stuffing and extra buttery mashed potatoes which really make you crash...sorry!
The key is to plan ahead, visualize and set your intentions for the following day. Instead of your usual morning and afternoon coffee binge, start your day with a glass of room temperature water (optional slice of lemon) to kick start your metabolism and digestion and then enjoy herbal non-caffeinated and unique teas like peppermint, roiboos, or astragulus which boost your energy as well as your digestive and immune system. Ditch the bagel or sugary breakfast cereal for a smoothie instead. A perfectly balanced smoothie really only need five elements, here's a suggested recipe:
1- Liquid - unsweetened almond, rice or soy (non gmo) milk, coconut water or even kefir. Or combine all to your taste.
2- Low glycemic fruit- 1/2 - 1 cup berries
3- Fibre - (non-psyllium), 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flax seeds
4- Sugar free fats -1 tbsp coconut oil, olive oil, chopped nuts or nut butters (almond)
5- Protein - rice, soy (non GMO), hemp powder or a vegan mixed plant based source
Optional add ins- 1 tsp raw (locally sourced) honey, dates, cacao nibs (for the chocolate lovers), ground cinnamon, greens powder
You can enjoy this smoothie for breakfast, lunch, replace your afternoon coffee and cake, or have it before you leave for a dinner party. It will keep you full and satisfied so you're not tempted to over indulge at the buffet. Another great tip is to start your meal with fiber first, fill your plate with green salad and vegetables before the main course, keep hydrated with water between alcoholic drinks, walk away from the buffet table, meander and enjoy conversations, and by then you may just be too full to indulge in the sugary sweets! But if aunt Sally will be heartbroken if you don't have each of the many desserts she made, remember, you just need to have one bite and then make a really big deal about how yummy it is. No one will notice that you didn't finish it!
Countless studies have proven that simply taking a 15-minute walk each day can clear negative thoughts, reduce stress and anxiety, boost creativity and increase mental clarity. It allows you to take the time out to get things into perspective resulting in a clearer, sharper mind. Schedule first thing in the morning at least 15-20 minutes of walking, yoga, pilates, jogging, swimming, or any aerobic activity which will turn your holiday meal into muscle and keep your metabolism revved for the whole day.
Most importantly, don't forget to get your zzzz's! By making your 6-8 hours of sleep a priority you'd prevent a build up of stress levels which can cause cravings, overeating, and weight gain and you'll also prevent uncle Frank from getting under your skin. If you struggle with winding down after a hectic day here are some tips: About an hour or two before bedtime, draw yourself a hot bath, in a bowl add 2 cups sea salt, 1 cup epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, and (optional) a few drops essential oils of lavender, chamomile, neroli, or ylang ylang. Mix all ingredients and add to the bath water just before stepping in, soak for about 20 minutes while enjoying some soothing music and candlelight. After your bath re-hydrate with a hot cup of lavender or chamomile herbal tea, turn off the tv especially the news, instead opt for easy reading, journaling, listening to music or meditation. Doesn't that sound relaxing already?
When the going gets tough, what do you do, stop and breathe! Take several deep breaths and exhale slowly to awaken your energy, and release stress, anxiety, and old patterns. It allows you to focus on self-renewal and helps to balance your energy.
It's a fact, we are energy beings which is why we tend to feel extra sensitive and emotional around this time of year. We may absorb or take on other peoples stress and negativity which just compounds our own and by the end of the day you're not sure if you're coming or going, leaving you feeling completely drained and exhausted. Our chakras, vortexes of energies within our subtle bodies which run up and down the thorough of the spine, absorb, processes and spins out energies on a daily basis; effecting our mood, health and overall energy. Keeping these energy centres clear and balanced lays the building blocks for improved mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Book an appointment with a credited holistic healthcare or energy medicine practitioner for a chakra balancing session. Some of the following tips are also very effective: listening to a guided chakra balancing meditation cd, using appropriate blends of essential oils, wearing or surrounding yourself with the chakra colours, yoga, dancing and breathing exercises, eating foods from the chakra colour spectrum, and wearing crystals of the appropriate colour.
Base or root chakra - (base of spine) ruby red
Sacral chakra -(four inches above root) orange
Solar Plexus - (just above our belly button) yellow
Heart Chakra - (middle of our chest) emerald green or pink
Throat chakra - light blue
Third Eye - (between and slight above eyebrows)
Indigo Crown chakra - (top of head) violet
FEEL THE LOVE AND GRATITUDE
"Love opens your heart, trumps fear, and paves the way for healing in all aspects of your life. And without gratitude, you may focus on what's lacking in your life, rather than what you appreciate. Gratitude keeps you optimistic, and evidence shows that optimism improves your health." Lissa Rankin, MD
Saying positive affirmations each morning can open the gates of manifestation and really give you a boost in creating your day. Give yourself a hug, look in the mirror into your eyes and say to yourself "I love you, I approve of you and promise to treat you with the respect and care that you deserve by choosing the thoughts that nourish you" And the same applies to sharing that love. If the cashier at the grocery store looks stressed and is having a bad day, extend a compliment and say thank you. Wayne Dyer says, "Once you believe in yourself and see your soul as divine and precious, you'll automatically be converted into a being that can create miracles." By being thankful for everything in your life and choosing the attitude of gratitude very soon you'll see that both love and gratitude not only keeps everything in balance but unfolds a life that is magical, a precious gift that keeps on giving.
About the Author
Shivana Pateras, C.N.H.P. is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Akashic Records Consultant, and Reiki Master, specialized in many modalities of Spiritual Healing and Energy Medicine. Through her private practice and spiritual teaching her vision is to be an instrument of Love, Light and Service to you on your journey of Healing and Self-Discovery. You can learn more about her work at www.shivanapateras.com and connect through social media; Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.