lf you’ve been following me, you know that East Asian medicine considers the energetics of each season. We’re meant to modify our behavior accordingly to maintain optimum health.
Around here, fall and winter are the onset of the holiday season and a revving up of activity. The energetics, however, say to slow down, become still, and go inward.
So we have a seasonal mismatch. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need to go full hermit and book a silent meditation retreat. It’s about choosing activities that fill you with joy and help replenish you, rather than running you down.
Regardless of your vaccination status, these guidelines can help:
- Talk about pandemic parameters before you go.While some people are re-entering their pre-pandemic lives, the holidays may be among your first indoor, multiple-household gatherings. Before you arrive at family or friend get-togethers, talk with the hosts about your COVID risk-level tolerances. Ask about vaccination status, number of people attending, masking preferences and venue (inside/outside). Since 100% agreement is rare, it’s easier to clarify your needs and boundaries ahead of time.
- Plan in some downtime.Rest is important if you aren’t peopling much at this pandemic stage, but downtime can also be helpful if you’re ready to get your holiday party on. Build in a few hours between activities to decompress and create more emotional bandwidth. At the very least, try to breathe into your belly for 30 seconds in the car to collect yourself before moving on to your next event.
- Take it easy on the caffeine.Looking to improve your mood and feel less irritable? Sleep is more effective than caffeine. Yes, caffeine can give you a temporary burst. But eventually your habitual caffeine dose will only bring your brain activity to the level of someone who’s caffeine free! This means you need more caffeine to get that energy surge. So while the holidays may not be ideal for quitting caffeine, make sure you’re not upping your consumption to keep up with your to-dos. You may find yourself with unfortunate side effects—irritability and headache.
- Let yourself rest.In winter, your body is supposed to have less energy. If you’re feeling sluggish and not in the holiday spirit, don’t beat yourself up. That’s actually healthy! Instead of fighting your body’s impulse to rest, try going to bed a little earlier and sleeping a little later. Or if you’re able, slip in a mid-afternoon nap. I know it’s challenging but aim to sneak in a 20-minute car nap between holiday shopping stops. It may make all the difference in your mood!
- Make time for what you love.A great motto to live by any time, but especially so during winter when your natural energy level is lower and holiday obligations can leave you feeling pressured. Make sure you save time for whatever lights your fire, whether it’s being with loved ones, reading a book before bed or going for a daily walk. If you give yourself time for what you love, you create more energy for the rest of your holiday obligations.
- Schedule acupuncture and other self-care.While acupuncture, cupping, ear seeds, and herbal medicine will not magically lift the holiday expectations, they can help your nervous system cope better. Acupuncture helps shift you from a state of fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system dominance) to a state of relaxation where your immune system has the resources to fight off any holiday crud and digest indulgent food you may consume (parasympathetic dominance). If your stress response includes muscle tension, cupping can help release stubborn knots. Ear seeds and herbs can help you keep your calm in the days after your session.