Be Well with Maureen Shortt



De-stress During Seasonal Chaos!

The most wonderful time of the year is not necessarily so for many. There are demands on your time and energy from every angle. And you were already busy and perhaps overwhelmed! The decisions, the expectations, the traffic and shopping and cooking and shipping and socializing-it can all suck the enjoyment out of the season.

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health, happiness, and longevity says that you can de-stress even through the holiday season by how you eat, how you sleep, how you relieve stress buildup and how you manage your time and your emotions.

Ayurveda says that digestion is the gateway to the rest of your health. An easy way to support good digestion is to eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day and make dinner a smaller meal. The ‘fire’ of your digestion is strongest mid-day and you will extract more nutrients and more energy from your food at this time. (NOTE: if you get tired after lunch you may have a blood sugar and/or digestive enzyme imbalance, which would require some individualized support).

And, when you eat lighter at night you may be able to sleep more deeply. During deep sleep you do some important functions such as build muscle and detoxify and clear out old exhaustion. If you get less than 6 hours of sleep you will run on adrenalin the next day, which means you will be burning your own muscle for energy and not your bodyfat.  If you go to bed with a load of food on stomach your overnight detox system will not work and you will wake up feeling not rested and heavy, both physically and mentally. There is a natural rhythm for your body to be asleep by 10 pm and up by 6 am. Sleeping within this rhythm goes a long way to relieving your stress and giving you energy to handle the demands of the next day.

If that stress just won’t quit-if there’s just too much to do and too little time in which to do it- you can do some simple de-stressing using warmth. A warm cup of caffeine free tea or hot milk (try a steamer at Starbucks with a shot of a flavor syrup) will soothe your frazzled nerves-literally. Avoid using caffeine to power through the holidays-it leaves you feeling more exhausted and even depressed. And taking a warm bath rather than a shower can unjangle your nerves-again, literally. If you give yourself a lovely self massage with some organic sesame oil before bathing (google how to self massage or email me) you will be feeding your nervous system, through your skin, a grounding, calming ‘food.’

And finally here are the 4 D’s of time management, to help you prevent stress buildup even in your emotions. The first D is dispose of-can you just decide to not make your own wrapping paper, or to not knit that scarf for Uncle Fred, or not repaint the living room before the holidays? The second D is delay. All the New York seasonal attractions are there even after the holidays-maybe you could go when it’s more enjoyable. Aunt Sue will love seeing you as much in January as she would in December.  And the living room can be painted during the slower winter months.

The third D is delegate. I remember the year I had all the boxes of decorations sitting in the hallway in early December. My kids came home from school and found them  and when I got home they had everything out of the box and up. Maybe not where or how I would have done it, but the feeling of it being done was wonderful. Can you let go of a bit of control for some de-stressing sanity? Can you buy the cookies from a local fabulous bakery rather than make them? Can you ask everyone to bring a dish for dinner rather than make it all yourself? (Be sure to designate who makes what so you don’t end up with 6 bowls of green bean casserole). And the 4th D is-if you can’t dispose of, or delay it, or delegate it, then, and only then, it goes on your to do list. If you really apply the 4 D’s to your daily to do list you will find there is a lot you can not do.

The holidays start earlier each year. And so can your de-holiday stressing. There WILL be an after-the-holidays. Think of that and make a commitment to yourself to feel better NOW, not when it’s all over. Make choices that serve your health and wellbeing now and you will be healthier through the rest of the winter.  Enjoy yourself.

Maureen Shortt, Yoga Director and club Nutritionist


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