IT’S THE HOLIDAYS! SIMPLE TIPS FOR STAYING SANE

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.             Simone Weil

It’s the holidays! I can already feel the bustle around town and in the stores. With a  myriad of social and family gatherings, traditions and parties – how can I stay grounded? For me, the holidays are a marker of time passed and an opportunity to assess the year. Did I achieve all I wanted? How do I measure up against where I think I should be?

I have discovered that these questions are based on the false premise that my external circumstances define me. What a relief to let that go! Now, I am imperfectly working toward cultivating a deep sense of security in who I am – the person I have become. Where I am in life – the external circumstances must follow this feeling of well being and security. I encourage you to dig deep and root down into yourself this season. Enjoy the clarity of focus and peace that comes from that practice.

Many emotions get stirred up from being around loved ones that you haven’t seen for a while. Here are three simple tips for showing up as your best self.

1) MAINTAIN YOUR ROUTINE – we all have daily practices whether we are aware of them or not. Part of my daily practice includes meditation and doing a ballet barre. No matter where I go or who I stay with I have found that keeping up my routine grounds me and keeps me connected to my authentic self.

2) TAKE BREAKS –  being around people constantly can be overwhelming for even the most social butterfly. Take a walk, go to the gym, take a nap, etc. These are all reasonable and effective ways that you can recharge. Remember that by taking care of yourself you are ensuring that you will be your best self with your friends and family.

3) BE PRESENT WHILE CONSUMING – how am I feeling? Doing a feelings check may sound silly, but often times we indulge in food/alcohol as a way of soothing ourselves emotionally, only it happens unconsciously. You might find that by noticing how you feel and sitting with the feeling you no longer desire another piece of pie or a cocktail. When you notice uncomfortable feelings, that is a good time to practice #2 – just step outside for a moment and notice the fresh air and the trees. It is amazing how quickly we can ground ourselves when we are truly present.

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photo credit: Alexa Miller

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STRONG SHOULDERS

Many people suffer or have suffered from shoulder pain. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and weakness and/or tightness in this area can easily lead to strains and injuries. It is smart to take preventative measures and work on strengthening your shoulders so that they are strong and supported. This will lead to improved posture and the ability to lift things more easily in daily life. Here are a few quick exercises that can get you on your way.

1. STANDING ROW:  Stand facing a chair with 8-10lb weight in hand. Bend your knees and make sure that your back is flat. Place one hand on the chair and engage your abdominal muscles. Lift the weight up to the side of your chest whilE maintaining a flat back. Do 15-20x and repeat twice on each arm.

2. PENDULUM: Lean forward with a flat back and bent knees and place one hand on a table or chair for support. In the       working hand hold a 5lb weight. Engage your abdominals up toward your lower back and begin to gently rock the weight from one side to the in a horizontal fashion 10x. Repeat the gentle swinging motion going the other way 10x. Next draw circles with the weight 10x – repeat that going the other way 10x. Repeat on the other arm.

3. ROTATOR CUFF: Lie on one side with a rolled up towel under the top arm. Hold a 3-5lb weight in your hand and bend   your elbow to a 90 degree position. Gently lift your hand up toward the ceiling while maintaining the position of your elbow. Think of your elbow joint as the hinge of a door. Repeat 10-15x or until your shoulder fatigues.

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