By Jacqui Lewis
‘Tis the season to be merry... and a little stressed and overwhelmed! In between hosting holiday festivities, buying presents for everyone you know and overcommitting yourself to social occasions, it's no wonder you can feel those cortisol levels rising.
High stress levels, fatigue and emotional burnout can happen at any time of year but you're not alone if the feeling goes into overdrive at Christmas. On the downside, these things affect our mood, skin quality, our digestion, and our bodies. On the upside, there is a lot we can do to manage stress and overwhelm and increase the vitality of our skin and body overall.
When we are ‘stressed’—a blanket term I am going to use here to describe feeling anxious, overwhelmed, tired, cranky and irritable—we increase stress-related hormones. These have a domino effect in that they disrupt our mood, our sleep, our digestion and they attract more stress hormones. In turn, we become like little mice in a spinning wheel of stress.
To exit this spinning wheel, there are some really simple, implementable tools you can use to boost your mood, sleep and digestion to reduce (and prevent) stress these holidays—and beyond.
Firstly, meditation is absolutely key when it comes to shifting our minds and bodies–although not all meditation is created equal. If you’re sick of guided meditations, where you listen to someone’s voice, I would recommend mantra-based meditation. It’s where a mantra, which is a Sanskrit sound, is repeated in a particular way–not chanted–in the mind, to allow the mind to reach deeper states of consciousness, allowing the body to release deep stress and fatigue. It’s a profoundly dynamic and flexible practice too, you don’t even need quiet to practice, and it’s done 10-20 minutes twice daily. You do need the correct training though, like with anything worthwhile, doing it right is the best investment we can each make. We teach mantra-based meditation, called Integrated Meditation live online at The Broad Place, and you can also look up Transcendental and Vedic Meditation.
Secondly, power down at night. An hour before bed, ensure you put down all technology. I recommend setting an alarm as a reminder. You will increase the quality of your sleep significantly if you power down an hour before bed, and this will make a huge difference in your mood, but also boost your happy hormones and improve the quality of your skin.
Thirdly, this one sounds really obvious, and as such it’s often missed–do the things that make you happy to increase your happy hormones. You know that gorgeous glowy skin that people have when they first fall in love? That is an enormous boost of happy hormones. So every day, ensure you do something you love, that’s just for you—an act of deep self-love. Watch your mood boost, your hormones balance and your skin look at its best.
Lastly, exercise. We all know it’s key, but a hectic Christmas schedule can often see it go out the window. Getting back on that bike or hitting that pavement will ensure your endorphins rise rapidly. Even if you can only squeeze in 20 minutes a day, it's worth making time for if you're looking to improve your skin and mood.
Taking care of our skin, our minds, and our bodies doesn’t need to be complex, but it does require discipline and daily application. There are no quick fixes that will create long term transformation, no matter how desperate we might be for them. So amidst all the madness, make sure you're taking the time to invest in yourself every day, and set yourself up to glow inside and out all holiday long.