December is the perfect time to retreat and reflect on the past and the coming year. The juxtaposition? It marks the start of a very busy season for celebrating holidays and meeting year-end deadlines or goals. December is also the month punctuated by the winter solstice. Shorter, darker days inhabit the earth and this can manifest melancholy in many of us.
You might feel your shoulders tense up around your ears as anxiety builds from the pressure that comes with the need to “get it all done” and make time for socializing. Or, you may find yourself releasing a deflating and defeating breath of air that rounds your spine in a sorrowful slump because this time of year is not full of holly jolly happy hoop-la for you.
But don’t despair, Ayurveda and yoga enhance our ability to live in balance and thrive when faced with challenges.
Whether you tend toward feeling ungrounded and anxious because you are discombobulated by your busy-ness or are more inclined to recoil and ruminate in December, these tips can help.
Set aside a few minutes each morning for checking in with yourself before you begin your day. Performing healthy practices at the beginning of your day supports you throughout the rest of your day.
Turn off your phone, sit comfortably and attentively, and close your eyes, and …
- Practice Nadi Shodhana/Alternate Nostril Breathing
- As the hands are very nerve-enriched, the body/mind/spirit responds well to mudras. Sit for a few minutes or more with eyes closed, using one of these mudras.
- Try meditation for busy bees, and the fidgety, fussy types who say, “I can’t sit still!”
- Or, a meditation for when you are feeling down.
STAY WARM AND MOISTURIZED
We all know that the dry, cold, windy weather of winter wreaks havoc on the skin, but did you know it can also wreak havoc on digestion and mood? Dry, cold, and windy qualities can slow down digestion and create anxiety and depression.
- Abhyanga (oil massage) is the antidote. Providing yourself with an oil massage is an act of self-love.
- Drink plenty of water! Ayurveda recommends drinking half of your healthy body weight in ounces of water each day. Avoid cold water.
Avoid skipping meals or eating cold, dry packaged foods on the go. Favor warm, moist, well-cooked foods and warm beverages.
- Chai supports digestion and is very comforting.
- Ayurveda’s staple dish, kichari can serve as breakfast, lunch, or dinner and is simple to make.
CARVE OUT TIME FOR YOGA
When the body is in a good place, the mind has no choice but to follow.
MINGLE WITH MOTHER NATURE
Believe it or not, sometimes the reason why we tend to not feel well is the simple fact that we do not get outside enough in winter. Be sure to bundle up, paying special attention to keeping the head/neck/ears warm, and spend time outside. Any activity that gets you moving will help keep you warm and stimulate the senses in a healthy way.
MAKE TIME FOR RECHARGING YOUR BATTERIES
If you’ve taken a look at your calendar and it’s overloaded with commitments, see where you can cut back and spend some solo time at home.
Ask yourself, are you enforcing your boundaries or falling victim to societal pressures and pushing yourself to party past your limit or overextend yourself? There will be more time after December to spread your good cheer and help others. “Giving the shirt off your back” can leave you out in the cold!
If loneliness tends to creep in at this time of year, seek meet and greets for lots of different activities—join a group meditation, yoga, or fitness class, or check your local calendar for activities in your area. You can also seek counseling in person or virtually. But most importantly, circle back to your breathwork and meditation practice. These practices deepen your connection to your innermost self, which is often the most important missing link that can illuminate your life and relieve suffering.
Wishing you infinite wellness.