The Importance of Festive Self-Care
At this time of year, we rush around “getting things sorted”, meeting end of year deadlines and this year, we have the added complexity of homeschooling, caring responsibilities and life being just generally that bit more difficult. Against this backdrop it can be tempting to take short cuts with our wellbeing but it is the time of year we also need to paying our wellbeing the utmost attention to avoid fatigue and seasonal burnout.
In Chinese Medicine, the art of self-care is called “Yang Sheng”. Yang Sheng is the art of nourishing Life. It is the foundation of health in Chinese medicine and the basis of Taoist culture and includes appropriate exercise, diet, sleep, meditation, and living in accord with the cycles of nature. In this short article, I share 5 of my festive self-care (Yang Sheng) tips to help you through the festive season and beyond.
Set A Morning Ritual
Instead of instantly reaching for your phone or laptop to check social media or your emails, set out a bit of time for yourself. Take a relaxing shower, listen to some music, meditate, or just take time to enjoy a healthy breakfast. The “morning miracle” is one example of a routine which combines stretching, drinking a glass of water and meditating for 15 minutes before you start your day. This will help to separate your time between sleep and work and also set you up for a productive day.
Yoga And Meditation
Just 5 minutes of Yoga and meditation during a break will quieten your mind, stretch your body and release toxins. Focussing on your breath will help you feel centred and reconnected with yourself. This is especially important during uncertain times. Yoga Journal’s Medical Editor Timothy McCall warns against overly ambitious yoga when you’re in a state of fear and anxiety. “When you’re fearful, Restorative Yoga is not going to work,” he says. “You first need to burn off anxiety with more energetic practices and then you can get to the restorative.” If you feel riled up, he suggests doing a strong practice for 20-30 minutes, then transitioning to more calming practices.
Eat A Nourishing Lunch
It is way too easy to grab a fat-laden, empty calorie and sugary snack to keep you going through the day. Or indulge in all-day grazing when working from home. As the coronavirus continues to spread across the UK, interest in nutrition and diet in relation to immunity has increased, as has confusion and misconceptions, says the British Nutrition Foundation. Having a healthy diet is important in supporting our immune function and many nutrients influence the body’s ability to fight infection. Taking time to to make a nutritious lunch, full of fresh foods high in vitamins will help you feel nourished and healthy in mind and body.
However hard we try, getting 10,000 steps in around the house is a tall order in these times of lockdown. But this is a perfect opportunity to get involved and embrace the online world of home-workouts – for fun with the kids like the omnipresent Jo Wicks and for the more advanced. YouTube has lots of great (and free) exercise videos and tutorials that you can do in the comfort of your lounge or garden. Or, alternatively put on your favourite tunes and have yourself your own Zumba class to get your mood-boosting endorphins.
Set A Sleep Schedule
Human beings thrive on routine, especially a set sleep schedule. Good sleep hygiene is essential for a fit and healthy body, clear and calm and balanced emotions. Try to stick to the same time going to bed and waking up to keep your energy levels steady. It might be tempting to have lie-ins, take afternoon naps or even stay up late watching movies, but you will be much more productive, good humoured and able to cope with the challenges of isolating at home. Check my sleep hygiene blog for more useful hints and tips.
Have a great and safe festive break!
Clinic Director, Acupuncturist, Coach & Wellbeing Expert
P.S If you want to make these habits part of your daily health routine, why not download my handy free guide to help you!