Christmas is my favorite time of year!! As a kid, there was nothing more that I loved to do than to watch Christmas movies on TV, sitting by the Christmas tree looking at all our beautiful family decorations and eating mums amazing gingerbread men that she had just baked – one was never enough.
However, as I grew older the holiday season seems to have become less about making memories and more about holiday stress!! I still love those Christmas movies, but now I’m lucky to watch Christmas Vacation only once during the festive season. Christmas shopping in all its glorious frantic mayhem has become less fun and more last minute stress trying to find the perfect gift. Baking gingerbread men with my daughter is somewhere slotted into a quick ‘hurry up and mix this’ so that we can get to the continuous ‘end of year’ school/gymnastics/family functions – that also usually cost you a tonne of money that you generally don’t have to spare!! And then, if you are a hopeless Christmas romantic like me, there is the constant request to your partner/husband to put up the Christmas lights on the house……queue arguments and lots of swearing at tangled lights from said partner!
ARE YOU STRESSED YET???? I AM!!!!
We are all living such fast paced pressure cooker driven lives that even when we know we are stressed, snappy and running around like lunatics, we have forgotten how to stop and breathe. Our fight or flight response has been driven into such a high level of automation that our bodies simply don’t understand how to function when not in this state (which is a very dangerous state to live in). Simply, we are so used to being stressed both emotionally and physically that we now live it like it is the norm! Luckily, with a few simple conscious decisions it is possible to bring some peace back into your life.
All this rushing generally means that none of us are present in the moment. We are physically there, watching our kids or having a conversation with friends or running on the treadmill, but at the same time we are checking Facebook, thinking about the mile long ‘to-do’ list, mentally preparing tonight’s dinner and never actually 100% being in the moment.
BUT not being present means we are denying ourselves the time to enjoy. Set yourself 3 tasks a day that you are going to be 100% present and in the moment. This can be as simple as waking up and snuggling with your kids in bed for 3-5 mins before the day starts. Breathe in their scent, tickle or giggle with them, hug them tightly. It might be that you allow yourself to really enjoy your shower instead of rushing through each task. Really enjoy the scent of your soap or give yourself a nice scalp massage whilst washing your hair – ENJOY it, take time, think about how nice it feels – again this only needs to be 1-2 minutes in your daily routine.
Be present and really hear and understand what you are feeling and thinking during these few moments – if other thoughts pop into your head, just acknowledge them and let them fade into the back of your mind – you can come back to them later. A positive affirmation always helps to set your intention each day. In your head whilst you are slowly, sipping your morning cup of tea or really enjoying that smashed avo on toast, you might mentally say something like ‘Today, I allow myself time to be present and in the moment”.
Just over a year ago, I started Yoga. Apart from the physical transformation I am enjoying, the biggest lesson it has taught me was that I had forgotten how to breathe.
How can you forget to breathe? I mean it’s a basic life function right – you don’t do it and your dead – it’s pretty simple.
The fact was, I had spent so long rushing and living in a heightened state of stress, meant that day in and day out my life was full of shallow breathing. This is the type of breathing
that is short and generally only fills the upper top part of your chest – not breathing that is full and fills your stomach and diaphragm.
Most of us breathe improperly. Modern technology has made us sedentary most of the day. There is less need to breathe deeply, so we have developed a habit of shallow breathing. Shallow breathing also brings with it a Santa Claus sized list of problems: fatigue (reduced oxygenation), sleep disorders, anxiety, stomach upsets, heart burn, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain and heart palpitations – are you hyperventilating yet? Don’t worry, there is an easy fix!
Sit up straight and close your mouth.
Breathe in through you nose to the count of 5, really deeply.
Feel the air fill your lungs, feel it fill your stomach. Breathe as deeply as you can (this may not be much, as chances are the lungs have not breathed this way in a long time – this is something you will build up on over time and become easier).
Hold the breath for a few seconds and then let the air out slowly and loudly making a ‘haaaaaa’ noise through your mouth.
Repeat this cycle 5 times.
Notice how you feel? Pretty chilled out right? You may even be a little clearer in your thoughts. Imagine if you did that 3 times a day!! The benefits are amazing. If you suffer with anxiety, then this is an excellent technique to assisting to bring you back to a state of calm.
To maximise my daily breathing routine, I add an extra little power punch of essential oil goodness to really open up my airways and clear my mind. Put a drop of Peppermint or a Respiratory blend, doTERRA breath is amazing, into the palm of your hands and cup your hands in front of your nose when inhaling. Enjoy the aroma and energizing effects these powerful oils have. Peppermint is also great for headaches.
Allowing yourself a few minutes at the beginning and end of your day to look after yourself, can really have a positive effect on reducing stress levels.
When we think of morning routines we generally think of the annoying ‘buzz’ of the alarm going off, the rush in the shower, begging the kids to get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack their bag etc., the rush and stress of traffic to get to work/school on time and before you know it, its lunchtime and you haven’t even had a second to remember who you are, where you are and breathe (ahhh yes, remember our old friend shallow breathing??)
Setting yourself up with just a few simple stress busting, soul reviving routines in your day is simple.
I cannot start my day without my Essential oil diffuser. Its 2 mins first thing in the morning that gives me real deep pleasure. I know I bang on about these oils, but they truly are life changing.
The opening of the wooden box and the intoxicatingly beautiful aroma that floods my senses from a mixture of 30 or so of my favorite purest oils. Each day is different and depends on my mood, but Peppermint and Wild Orange is so energizing and uplifting that it really gets our house going from the time it’s on. Even though it is only 2 or so minutes, I allow myself to really enjoy this process, and some mornings my daughter gets in on the process too, choosing her favorites and asking what one does what (BONUS HERE, is that in this moment, I am really present with her – bonus points for being present more! I also tend to breathe a lot deeper whilst doing this too – bonus points for less shallow breathing!!). From here I try to get a good filling breakfast smoothie in and do a few stretches to each morning to limber up for the day ahead.
You might find that sipping on a glass of warm water with lemon and popping a load of washing on sets you up for a day full of accomplishment. Getting up that little bit earlier and heading out for some pre work exercise might be a great way to start your day. The point is, again, set a routine which allows you time to be YOU. Give yourself time to enjoy a process or moment, however quick or time consuming that may be. A great positive affirmation during this time to silently whisper to yourself is ‘I am blessed” Be thankful for all that you have – take a look around, I bet you are pretty lucky, be thankful for that. Think positive and you are starting your day off on the right foot.
We manage to get a lot done in our days – A LOT!! We are busier than ever – the shops are open later, our employers expect more (and we deliver more than ever before), Schools expect more of children in terms of homework and extra-curricular activities and we still manage to squash in household chores and finding time to spend with our loved ones – although by the time we have conquered the world, we are normally exhausted physically and mentally and don’t even realise the achievements we make every day – and those our loved ones make as well.
Just as important as a morning routine, is an evening routine. My favorite evening routine is sitting down together as a family, eating dinner and talking about our day. For me, it’s an important time to bond and reconnect. It doesn’t always happen as both my husband and I are shift workers, but when we can make it happen we do and its lovely.
Another great evening routine which my daughter started recently to help combat school anxiety was to write down 1 happy memory from the day and put it in a jar. We call this her happy jar. This is a great way of finding happiness even on your darkest days – there is always a silver lining somewhere, sometimes you just have to look a little harder.
1 evening routine I never miss is a deep inhale of whatever essential oil I am drawn to that day. Recently doTERRA’s Balance blend has been getting huge workout. Once everyone has gone off to bed and I get the chance to sink into the couch and switch off, I deeply inhale and/or rub the tops of my shoulders with an oil. It’s a quick 3-4 min routine which allows me time to release all the stress and worry of the day. For you, you may like to rub lavender or Vetiver into the souls of your feet, or sit back and enjoy your favorite cup of tea before bed (I happen to adore Love Tea Caffeine Free Chai).
Ok, we all have those moments when we literally want to grab Santa by the beard, rip it off and shove it down Rudolph’s throat – right? I mean dealing with family that you only see once a year, seeing your credit card balance after the final Christmas present has been purchased or realising you didn’t pull the frozen turkey out of the freezer in time to thaw for Christmas day (even in an Australian summer!)
Sometimes these are the moments which take the biggest toll, they are usually the ones we find hardest to forgive ourselves over. No matter how much we prepare and plan chances are you are still going to lose your cool at some point– you are human remember! The key to not getting arrested for physically assaulting Santa is the ability to recognise the high stress feelings before they happen – during the build-up phase. For me, I can tell this is happening when I find myself walking through the shopping centre at super human speed and getting cranky at everyone else for going so slow, slow being a totally normal acceptable walking pace! Or when Im walking through every room of my house, doing 20 thousand tasks in a hurry but not finishing any of them.
It’s at this point, that I stop and think, WHY? Cue those deep breaths and being present. STOP, breathe and realise that it’s not the end of the world if you get to your car 5 mins later or if the kids bedrooms are not Vouge living standard when the relo’s arrive in 3 hours’ time. You and your family are not going to remember that the table setting was missing the fresh cranberry vine you had planned to intertwine so delicately throughout the place cards and Bonbon’s. They will however remember the wobbly that mum threw which had everyone talking about for the next 3 Christmas’.
On days that I know these events are likely to take place I always like to have my balance blend of essential oils close by, to help calm me down with some deep breaths when I need it.
For you, it might be a piece of jewelry you wear that you can rub to remind you to slow down and smell the roses. It may be as simple as sitting, breathing and having a drink of water to cool your nerves.
Whatever that emergency situation looks like, recognise it, deal with it and reaffirm to yourself “I slowly breathe in and out and I find myself relaxing more and more with each breath’
Affirmations are a great way of setting your intention and raising your vibration. Putting positive energy out in the world encourages positive energy to flow back into your world. Have you ever noticed how negative people attract negative people? Being positive works in the same way.
I highly recommend jumping on Instagram and following Louise Hay Affirmations if you are looking for some great ideas of how easy bringing positivity into your life can be.
But the most important thing to remember is Christmas is what YOU want it to be.
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