As joyful and wonderful as this time of year is, it can also be pretty damn overwhelming. The stress of finding the right presents compounded with seeing family members you don’t always get along with can send anxiety levels soaring. Add to that travel woes and potential promotions or shifts in our careers and you’re likely feeling like it’s all just too much.
With all this piling on, our body can feel as depleted and drained as if we had a heavy night of drinking. Turns out these are emotional hangovers, and they’re way more common than you might think.
Sure we all hate hangovers, emotional or physical, but luckily they’re all temporary. And if you put in a little bit of work, that emotional hangover will be gone in no time. In fact, if you flow through a short and easy routine of yoga poses, both your body and your mind will recover with ease. So grab that mat (or a towel if you don’t have one) and get ready to feel like a whole new you.
Even if you’re not a seasoned yogi, you’ve probably done child’s pose once or twice in your life. Most of us walk through life holding in our emotions, just as we hold in our bellies physically to protect ourselves and stand tall. Softening the belly in Child’s Pose allows you to surrender and let go.
Side Plank Stretch
The more open our side waist is, the more easily we can breathe. Being able to sit with ourselves and our thoughts in a moment of stillness on the mat will translate to the same ease and stillness in our days. To tackle this stretch, start on all fours before extending your right leg back and holding it. Walk your left palm under your nose and press it into the mat; once you’re feeling solid, sweep your right arm overhead and tuck your left glute underneath your body as you stack your hips. Then you just need to repeat it on the left side.
Cross Leg with Spinal Roll
Recognising tension in the body and being able to slowly but surely release it will allow you to do the same with emotional tension. We store lots of tension in our spines, so releasing that will free your mind. To do this stretch, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your hands on your knees. As you inhale, lift your chest and roll your shoulders back; as you exhale, shift your rights to the right and then pull them back to the left. Basically, you’re circling your rib cage so your spine moves in all directions. Repeat this five times and then reverse the circle in the opposite direction.
Light and Easy Twists
It’s important to bring our awareness to where our attention tends to go when we relax. Try to centre your focus on what you’re doing in that moment, rather than letting the mind wander to your troubles. Wondering how to twist? It’s easy! Lie down on your back with feet wider than your hips and drop your knees to the right. Bring them back up and drop them over to the other side. Rock between the two sides at your leisure.
Emotions come and go just as bodily sensations do, so we should remember that unpleasant feelings – think fear, anxiety or anger – will be gone just as quickly as they came. Figure Fours give us a tight though not unpleasant feeling in our flutes that mimic unsettling feelings in our minds. Do a few of these to encourage our minds to let go just as our bodies do.