Ah, the holidays…They creep up on me every year. It feels like it was just New Year’s Eve, then COVID swept over the Earth making each month feel surreal and blurry. Now, here we are wrapping up the year and facing the holidays once more. Only this year not only feels different—it is different.
What normally is a stressful, and potentially lonely time of year is further compounded by social distancing and the lack of holiday festivities. Great. Now what?
Now we learn to listen. Take pause and listen to what your body is telling you. This year I found extra time to pause and check in with my emotions. Am I stressed? Am I anxious? Am I passing judgment on myself or others? Pausing…scanning…noticing what is true and what is present. Next, I check in with my thoughts. Am I positive? Negative? Lots of chatter and disorganization in my thoughts? Insomnia? Scanning to see what the mental landscape looks like. Finally, checking in with my physical body. I have been studying Ayurveda for a couple of years and have learned to assign adjectives to the qualities I notice. My body tends to feel slow, heavy and cool most days. When I get overwhelmed and stress begins to accumulate, these qualities seem more pronounced. Just as importantly, my mind also begins to feel slow and heavy. Learning to check in and to see how you feel is the first step in finding balance.
There is a saying, “Like increases like.” If I am already cold and decide to go for a walk on a cold windy day without my hat and gloves, sipping on iced coffee I will most likely not get any warmer! Of course, in this example I hope it is obvious. But think about this example: I wake up and I feel cold, heavy and slow. I am stressed about a work project and I haven’t sent out a package that I have been meaning to for the past week. On top of that, my car needs to go to the shop because it’s making a noise that sounds like if I don’t take care of it, I could find myself stranded on the side of the road. So, I decide to pour a bowl of cereal with cut up banana covered in milk and trudge over to the sofa to sit and watch a Netflix marathon to avoid my issues. Can you see how my choice of food is also cold and heavy, or how sitting on the sofa watching t.v. for hours is slow and heavy? Avoiding my errands is also slow? I will most likely continue to feel more and more heavy and unbalanced which could lead to other physical imbalances such as a stomachache or headache.
Learning to find ways to create balance becomes easier the more we listen to what is present in both the mind and the body. In the earlier example, I could have chosen an apple and some hot tea which would have had the qualities of being light and warm to help balance the feelings of heavy and cold. But how would I know to do that if my normal routine is cereal with banana every morning?
This season I invite you to pause and to evaluate your routines to see if they are helping you to find balance or if they may be part of the reason you are looking to find balance. Whether you normally spend a lot of time on the phone, running errands, caring for others, planning Taco Tuesday, whatever your normal routine may be, I invite you to check in to see how you feel before, during and after these things. So often we just go through the routines that we always do rather than shifting and adapting our routines to help find balance.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t have Taco Tuesday. It just means that maybe next Tuesday you go lighter on the hot sauce or swap out the cold vegetables for pan cooked veggies. Noticing how you feel and considering what would best serve you will help you to find balance in your emotions, thoughts and your body.