A lot of folks I know have a ”love-hate” relationship with this time of year…
The celebrating, the indulgence, the gift giving, the food comas, the connection, the overconsumption…
All of it usually combines to paint a glitter tinged picture of physical, mental and emotional highs and lows, all taking place over the course of the next five to six weeks.
Thing is, regardless of how ready we are, once this time of year rolls around, the challenge of maintaining some degree of mind-body balance through the emotionally charged, food and drink filled days ahead can feel a bit like that wave you always underestimate. You know, the one that leaves you coughing, spluttering, and slightly broken… a shell of your former self… come New Years Day.
But what if this year could be different… starting now…?
What if, you could tap into a little ancient wisdom to smooth the road ahead and get you ready for the holiday season you’ve been dreaming about…
First…tune in to your source – Before the holidays jump into full swing (i.e. all hell breaks loose,) take a moment to consider how you actually want this holiday season to play out.
How do you WANT to feel come New Year’s Day?
Picture it in your mind and feel it in your body. Check in with yourself every day during the season and use this feeling as your point of reference..
The Art (and science) of indulgence…
“Satisfaction is delicate. It’s held together with intention and a just the right amount of control” – Chara
You ready to Eat?
Of course you are, but just so you know, pushing past satisfaction to food coma is definitely not mandatory.
Now is the time to be mindful of what the holidays mean for you (connection and consumption) and to strike a balance between healthy indulgence and overindulgence (easier said than done…yeah I know, but you can do this!).
Regardless of everything that will be on offer…
- Try to choose foods that are most suitable for the season. Northern hemisphere that’s fall into winter, vata time so go with warm, spicy, sweet, and grounding foods (easy peasy). In the southern hemisphere we’re heading into summer so we’ll want to stick with foods that are cooling with a mix of sweet (yay!) and bitter tastes (think leafy greens, cranberries, melon, mint – not necessarily all mixed together).
- Choose enjoyment instead of overindulgence. According to Ayurveda at any meal the stomach should be filled to half its capacity with food, one quarter of capacity with liquid, and one quarter capacity with nothing (that combo will allow for efficient stomach churning and optimal digestion). How to figure out when you’ve hit the right level….practice! (remember satisfaction is a delicate thing).
- During meal times stay mindful of any emotions that might be running your show. Give yourself permission to take a break (a walk, a breath, a bath) if you need it, in order to interrupt the cycle of emotional eating before it can take hold.
- Consider fasting the day before or after a big meal – No need to starve yourself, just choose lighter food and drinks (preferably warm or room temperature, low in sugar, fats and salt, steamed, boiled or raw) and tune into any sensations of heaviness in the mind or body until they pass.
Raising a glass…
First up remember that drinking is NOT required (just in case you forgot). Alcohol has hot and dry qualities. It stimulates the body (fast) but it also depletes our vital essence (the stuff that give us physical and mental resilience and ultimately… joy). In short it’s one of life’s little poisons. But you knew that.
Of course the paradox (which I’m sure you’re also familiar with) is that even by Ayurvedic standards drinking (of wine at least) can be considered a “means to happiness, that brings about relief from the day-to-day monotony of everyday life”.
So if you’re choosing to imbibe this holiday season here’s a couple of ayurvedic ground rules that might act as a mind/body antidote to any ill effects:
- Make sure you’re in good health – Remember alcohol is a “poison” which means that if you’re already in a weakened state, it’s ill effects are likely to have a bigger impact.
- Drink when you’re in good spirits – Not just good liquor, I mean a good mood. Happiness is vital to good health and let’s face it, alcohol might stimulate and make you happy for a hot minute, but it crashes and burns as a medium or long term fix for sadness or depression. If happy is what you need, it makes way more sense to look for a lasting solution rather than trying to find it in the bottom of a bottle (or glass). So if you’re drinking, start happy and finish happy!
- Moderation, moderation, moderation – nuf said.
- No party, no drinking– Don’t drink alone. Enjoy it in good company with good food as part of the process of celebration. And make sure you’re in a safe environment while you do it (travelling while drinking… NOT recommended).
- Follow up the party with rasayanas – Counter the destructive effects of alcohol with rejuvenating foods, herbs and spices (known in Ayurveda as rasayanas). These marvelous substances will nourish and build the tissues and support the liver. Try this:
To a cup of warm milk (cows or any nut milk) add:
- 1 tsp of ghee
- A dash each of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg
- Add a little honey (local if you can find it) only after the milk has cooled to just above room temperature
- As a fancy optional ingredient I like to throw in a few almonds that have been soaked with the skins removed
Drink up before going to bed. You will sleep like a baby while your body thanks you!
Time to get your merry on!
We ALL know that the holidays aren’t necessarily a happy time for everyone. Thing is, regardless of what might have happened in your past or what’s happening in your present you ALWAYS have a choice. So ask yourself…
What are you going to make THIS holiday season about?
Realize that having happiness and joy in your life is your birthright. Even if you think you’re not worthy of it, know that your body, mind and soul needs joy in order to thrive.
- Use this time of year specifically to reflect on everything in your life that makes you happy. Don’t worry about anything that doesn’t give you joy (you have my permission).
- Create an intention and a daily ritual to solidify the feeling of happiness in your life. Share the sensation with those around you…Pay it forward.
Give yourself (and the world) the gift of a happy YOU, for the holidays this year!
I’d LOVE to hear about your holiday traditions, no really! How do you cope during the holidays and what’s your most and least favorite part of this time of year? Share, share, share in the comments below!