In Elemental Yin Yang Yoga, the Winter is a time for yin practice. Meditation, contemplation, inward reflection. But that isn't always easy to do when you have 3 parties every weekend, a list of gifts to buy and you have guests in town.
That's right yogis. The holidays are here and whether you love them or would rather stay home and pretend they don't exist, this episode will have something for you.
I mentioned some fantastic tools in this episode and here they are:
- The Extreme Self-Care Program: Join me beginning January 1, 2018 for a 6 week commitment to your own well-being. Get the details here
- Share your own challenges and get support on the Aquin Yoga Facebook page here OR the private Elemental Yin Yang Yogis page here
- Think your main problem is that you are just "too busy"? Listen to this podcast and change that thinking!
- Need a great gift for a yogi in your life? Get my personal gift guide along with the criteria I think about when giving.
- Is one of your big challenges overindulging during the holidays? Check out the work of Brooke Castillo
Transcript of this Episode:
Episode 20 – Surviving the Holidays
Erin Aquin: Welcome to the Elemental Yin Yang Podcast, a fresh perspective on yoga and life. You are listening to episode 20, Surviving the Holidays.
Hello and welcome. Thank you so much for joining me today. My name is Erin Aquin and I am so excited to be doing this episode. This is our 20th episode, it's very exciting, and before we dive in, sort of on the topic of surviving the holiday season, I have a brand new course that's about to come out in January all about self-care. It's called Extreme Self-Care so you know it's pretty serious stuff. I'm going to link to it in the show notes over at www.AquinYoga.com and you can find that link here in the description for this podcast, whether you listen to us on your phone, through an app, or what have you.
And the reason I wanted to tell you about this in conjunction with today's podcast is I have found over this last year working with an incredible group of yoga teachers (hey guys, I love you, I miss you), I found that even those of us who are trained experts at looking after people- you know, we're yoga teachers, we love human beings so much that we spend our time trying to help people with their health, their wellness, give them some space in their hectic lives. Even us yoga teachers are not always great at self-care.
So it got me thinking that if these incredible teachers who really are masters of looking after other people, if they're having trouble with their self-care, chances are the general population probably isn't doing such a great job either.
So I really created Extreme Self-Care to be an answer to that, to help give you not only some incredible tools, the best tools that I've found that have really helped me over the last few years, but also to help you change your mindset around what self-care really is for at the end of the day. Because I think so many of us either think of it as a guilty pleasure, or as an indulgence of some kind, and we don't actually embrace the full picture of what self-care means, and how it helps us to realize our personal potential.
So please do check that out if you're looking for a gift for someone who would never, ever dream of taking time out for themselves, but probably really needs to. This could be the perfect gift, and it might be the thing for you. It might be the thing that you are looking for to help you make 2018 a really incredible year.
Okay now let's dive into today's topic, which is surviving the holidays. And I just want to start out by saying it was sort of a tongue in cheek name that we came up with when we were talking about creating this podcast, but I do know that for many people, this is a really hard time of year.
So we meant the title to be very fun, but I know that for some of you this is a really emotional time of year if you have lost someone in your life, if you are just not close with your family and friends, you're not getting the warm fuzzies that a lot of us feel at this time of year, I hear you and I'm with you.
So I just- I wanted to take a moment just to recognize that, and for those of us who do love this time of year but maybe we find it more hectic, I definitely fall into that category. I love the holiday season, I love every single holiday out there. It's good to remember that there are people who are really suffering at this time of year and to keep them in mind. We always- in our family we do a big donation around this time of year, we do some financial donation. We also just decluttered- my husband and I just decluttered our house, so we dropped off a lot of really amazing household goods, clothes, an entire carload of stuff to a really great local charity who doesn't just turn around and resell it. They do that too but they actually find people who need it.
So I really love the idea of charitable giving at this time of year, I think it's amazing. It will make you feel great, it could really help someone else out there, and that doesn't just have to stop at strangers. If you know of somebody who has a rough time of year, invite them to your family dinner. Invite them to do something fun and seasonal with you. There are so many people out there who just need some love and time, and if you have that to give, what a perfect gift.
Okay now for the rest of us, I actually asked this question to my Facebook group, my Facebook fans, and I got a lot of really great responses about what people's big challenges are around this time of year. More than one person said that time management is a huge challenge. There tends to be a lot of events at this time of year, parties. If you live close to and you have good connection with your family and friends, then there's probably going to be a lot of different obligations for you to navigate. So that can be one major stressor is trying to do everything.
Another obstacle for a lot of people or challenge at this time of year can often be financial, feeling obligated to buy gifts for people in your life. I know a lot of people really splurge at this time of year financially and then find themselves very stressed out in January when that credit card bill comes due.
A few people told me privately that this time of year can be really hard as they struggle with overeating. If you go to all those events that you're invited to, inevitably there's going to be a lot of very rich food and it might be outside of your regular diet, and it might be a big indulgence. By the same token, drinking too much can be a big obstacle.
And if you have other ones, you can head over to Aquin Yoga on Facebook and let me know what challenges maybe you struggle with at this time of year, and we can elaborate further on that. But hopefully I'm going to offer you a few different strategies for coping with the busyness of the year.
And I'll link to this in the show notes, but I did a whole podcast about changing our concept of being too busy. So if you are a person who uses being busy as an excuse a lot, then you will definitely want to go back and listen to that podcast, especially this time of year. So don't use being busy as an excuse to let the wheels come off the bus.
But let's begin with time management while we're on the topic of being busy. Now this is very common sense, this is common sense stuff, but I know for many of us it's going to be helpful just to hear this again. And a few of you mentioned this as how you actually get through this time of year, but it's learning how to say no.
And that can feel really hard to say no to all of the parties that you're invited to, maybe there's a number of different family obligations. If you want to get through the holidays and not feel stressed out, really sit down with whoever it is that you're making these decisions with, your partner, your kids, and think through the events that you actually really want to attend.
So for our family, we just had our new baby in mid-November, and he's beautiful, but with a newborn and a two year old, this year I will admit I've felt very conflicted about what events we should attend as a family because on one hand, navigating big social events with a two year old and a newborn is not always fun. It can be great, but you know it's a lot of work to get everybody out the door, and dressed, and make sure we've got all the things. We look like we're moving out of our house every time we walk out the door just with all of the different things we need for both of our kids, and I almost walked out of the house without shoes on the other day, full disclosure.
So I feel tired, and I want to have some downtime. I just gave birth a few weeks ago and I really want to honor the fact that I should be definitely resting more than I am, and spending time with my children and my husband, but at the same time there are so many people who want to see our babies, our kids, and I love my friends, I love my family, and I want to kind of get to as many of those events as possible.
So we really had to sit down as a family and talk about how we were going to navigate this time of year, and we decided that we were just going to do a very small handful of parties. So we trimmed down the number of events that we planned on attending, and it's still hectic but I think that's really good advice for all of you, is think about the things you want to do.
My friend Allison is a life coach and she said that one of the things that helps her at this time of year is she says no to things she's not really super interested in, but she pays attention to the things she did say yes to, and I thought that was great. My interpretation of her advice is that really only say yes to the things that you want to do in the first place, that's the first step. But then when you do say yes to something, be present while you're there.
So when you get to the day of the party that you agreed to go to, don't bemoan your decision. Be present with it, notice how it feels to be there, notice whether maybe it wasn't the right decision, maybe it was too much, maybe you need to pare down next year. But be with your decision, honor your decision, and be present with the things that you've said yes to. I loved that piece of advice. I thought that was brilliant.
Okay and then coming to money. Money stress around this time of year. I'd say in my household we are like- I wouldn't go so far as to say we are minimalists, because we have a lot of stuff and clutter still even after decluttering half of our closet, but we try as much as possible not to bring things into our home that we don't really need or really love.
And I have just released a gift guide that can tell you a little bit more about some of the criteria that I give and try to uphold when I'm giving gifts. You can read about that, I'll put it in the show notes, but it's over on my blog. It's the Gift Guide for Yogis and I have a few sort of criteria that I think might help. So if you're stumped for a gift for somebody, you can go check that out and see if those things resonate with you, if they really match with the person that you're trying to give the gift for. But in terms of financial issues around gifts, this can be such a tricky thing.
What I have found most helpful is really thinking about this ahead of time. I make a list at the beginning of the holiday season, and I write down the people who I really want to give a gift to. I also, for my bank account's sake, try to give myself a maximum amount of money that I'm going to spend on those gifts, and this has been really helpful for budgeting. My husband and I do a trip to Hawaii in the New Year, so I'm not going to go splurge on too much stuff for him, but there are people in my life, my very close family that I do exchange gifts with, and I try as much as possible to do those things in advance.
Where the financial stuff starts to get a little bit tricky is people sort of outside of that immediate family circle. So with my friends, I have one friend who I exchange gifts with. Just one and we don't spend a lot of money, we've been doing it for a few years, it's really nice, but I don't go and buy gifts for twenty different people. There are a couple of people who do a lot for me in my life that I also give a gift to, but those things don't have to cost a lot of money.
Let's say you have a friend who just had a brand new baby and you want to give them something but you don't want to break the bank, honestly as a new mother if someone offered to give me a gift of two hours of their time where they would come over and look after my baby so I could go and take a nap, that would be a much more valuable gift to me than another plastic toy that my kids don't need. Not everybody feels that way, I know, but time and energy always means more to me. You know, if someone brings over a homemade meal.
We have very good friends who came over and made us a beautiful meal, and I'll never forget that. I probably won't remember most gifts that I have received over the course of my life, but I will always remember the people that came over and made us dinner. So those things are really wonderful, you don't have to spend a lot of money to give people very thoughtful, beautiful gifts.
And if all else fails, bake cookies. That sort of brings me to our next holiday challenge. I'm going to go back on this in just a moment, but holiday indulgences. So things like eating too much, drinking too much, watching too much bad TV on Netflix. This time of year it is so easy to overdo, and I'm not going to sit here and pretend to be a pious yogi who doesn't indulge in treats at this time of year. Especially since just giving birth, I'm nursing right now, so I'm eating a lot of food and I'm also on a baking kick so I'm baking a lot.
I made a huge cookie and my husband snapped a picture of it, and I know that some people were probably looking at that thinking, 'Oh thanks for sharing your healthy lifestyle as you're taking a bite out of a huge cookie.' But I don't feel bad about that stuff at all, I love it, it's great but I also know how easy it is to slip into unconsciousness when it comes to the richness of this time of year.
My strategy for not overdoing things, and this is something I learned from a coach named Brooke Castillo who does a lot of work with overeating and overdrinking specifically, but it's brilliant and simple, is writing down ahead of time what my protocol is. So if I know I'm going to a holiday party, and I decide I'm going to enjoy some dessert at this party, and I'm going to enjoy some champagne, I have to 24 hours ahead of time write down exactly the number of sweets and the number of drinks that I will allow myself to have, and then stick to that.
And it sounds really simple, and it sounds like something you could just do in your head, but having a 24 hour time period ahead of time, and actually writing it down on a piece of paper where you will see it helps because you're making a commitment not from a place of being in the moment and feeling pressured or letting things kind of just be up to your mood in the moment, but you're making a rational, intelligent, realistic decision ahead of time.
And writing it down helps you to commit to it more so than just thinking about it I've found, so there's times where I've just kind of thought about it, and then I've definitely not honored it. But I find when I write it down, and I have it somewhere, maybe in the bathroom mirror when I'm getting ready, it just helps me reinforce that, 'This is what I'm going to allow myself to have,' and then I can just feel great about that, I don't have to think about it. So I encourage you to test that out. I'll link to Brooke's podcast actually because her stuff around overindulging is wonderful and will really help you if that is something that you struggle with.
You know beyond just 'surviving' this holiday season, this time of year, I believe it's also very possible to thrive. So if we want to start to just shift our mindset to thriving at this time of year, possibly a better name for this podcast, one of the best things you can do for yourself is maintain some kind of a daily practice.
So for a lot of you listening, you're my yoga students, and I encourage you to get to classes as much as you can. If you can't get to a class, fifteen or twenty minutes of yoga in the morning can really help to set your day. Someone posted in the Facebook page that as long as he doesn't sleep in, he makes sure that he does take time each day to meditate. A really beautiful practice like meditation in the morning can really set the tone for your day. I encourage you, if you are not a regular meditator, if you're not a regular yogi, this is a great time of year to implement or practice one of those tools.
And if yoga and meditation are not your thing, maybe it's going for a walk, maybe it is going to the gym, something to get your body moving. It could be journaling, something to get your mind cleared, just clear the cobwebs every morning so that you go into your day with more consciousness because this can be such a fun enjoyable time of year. And I think many of us get wrapped up in trying to make it perfect. You know trying to send the holiday cards, bake the holiday treats, attend the parties, make sure their kids have all the toys they could ever dream of. And as beautifully intentioned as those things are, many of us miss out on the actual magic of the season, and the point, which is to be together.
So if you are lucky enough to have people in your life that are close to you that you can spend time with at this time of year, the main remedy that I can offer you is to enjoy that. And practices like meditation, yoga, journaling, the gym, contemplation, whatever it is for you that helps you to get grounded and centered, is going to be a conduit for you to be more available for the people in your life that love you and that you love.
So I wish you a beautiful, happy, safe, joyous holiday season, and I look forward to having some of you join me for the Extreme Self-Care program in January. And I will link to that in the show notes, I'll link to all of the other things I mentioned today.
If you have other challenges and obstacles that you're facing at this time of year, please do head over to the Aquin Yoga Facebook page, head over to the comment section in the blog, let me know what you're dealing with and if I can offer you any insight, or if any of the amazing members of our community can offer you insight, we will definitely do so.
Thank you all, and we'll talk again in the New Year.
If you are enjoying this podcast and would like to experience the style of yoga that inspires all of these topics, please check out our audio library of classes over at www.Store.AquinYoga.com.