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11 WAYS TO USURP THE HOLIDAYS

By Saravana Sekar
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USURP: (VERB) TO SEIZE AND HOLD (A POSITION, STANCE, POWER) BY FORCE OVER AN OPPOSING ENTITY
Many people view the holidays as a an excuse to relax, overindulge, mope, and be lazy or stagnant. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to allow yourself time to relax and decompress, but everything should be done in moderation. Rather than self-sabotaging and telling yourself “Once 2017 comes I’ll _______”, take hold of what you can do now. Nearly 2/3 of all New Years Resolutions fall by the wayside in less than one month; so taking small steps now can help you take control of what you really want without the B.S. of waiting for another month to pass by…

According to the American Psychological Association, stress in America is still on the rise, and nearly half of Americans attribute that stress has a negative impact on their professional and personal lives. Although the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness, they often carry along stress and frustration. Between the time of Thanksgiving and the New Year rolling over, it can seem like a giant blur. Constant chaos, surviving the elements, and battling a multitude of obstacles throw in your direction; there are hundreds of ways to try and tame those overwhelming feelings. All of these may not apply to you, and maybe there are others you feel you need, but here are my top 11 Ways to Survive the Holidays…

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1.Do Only One Thing in The Moment: We are really good at doing 101 things at a time, and can be rushing from one task to the next just to cross if off our ‘To Do’ list. Slow yourself down! By trying to focus on just doing ONE thing at a time, we can enjoy many things we overlook and appreciate in your filled and seemingly chaotic day. Become present in each action; Focus on what you are doing in the moment; Attempt to let go of mental worrying, list-making, and overthinking. For example, rather than driving to the mall while making phone calls and letting your mind wander to what is for dinner or that you need to rush home to bring the children to their activities in 3 hours… Make your calls before you leave, give yourself an alarm on your watch or phone for when you need to depart, and enjoy the scenic landscape while driving, because I bet that it will make your trip 10 times more rewarding!

2.Anticipate Obstacles to Test Your Well-Being: Take a few moments and think what has happened over the past few years that heightened your stress and made things overly complicated. Looking back, was it an overreaction? An avoidable situation? Maybe it was something completely out of your control that influenced you, but did you let it get under your skin? We get bound up with anxiety and stress like a volcano yearning to erupt. Try to take the high road and push unwanted situations out of your path as best you can. Yes, some situations are unavoidable (especially when collaborating with others), but by becoming prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically possible, then you have fulfilled your role; do not over-complicate what you cannot control! Personally, I know that I over schedule myself and have trouble saying ‘no’, so the bustle of seeing the entire family, friends, career, and then taking 4 seconds to breathe and sleep. It is something I am working on currently, and I feel a reduction of unnecessary stress to my day. Once you are able to identify some of the situations that stick a fork in your road, then you can create a flexible plan on how to approach and conquer them!

3.Connect With Your Meaning of the Season: Regardless of religious belief or ideology, we all have our own special reason to celebrate. It does not need to link up directly with anyone else, and could be as simple and enjoyable as having the ability to cozy up next to the fire with fuzzy socks, watching the morning light glisten across the fresh blanket of snow. If you celebrate Christmas, it can be waking up that morning to see the glowing smile of your children’s face when Santa left a special message to them. Or the significant importance of blessing the Menorah during Hanukkah. Contribute to a local organization, give insight or thanks to those around you, or discover anything else that brings satisfaction and happiness into your meaning of this time of year.

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4.Practice Muscular Contraction Methods: Whether you have had a long day sitting, walking, commuting, or even exercising, added stress can create intensified soreness and tightening of your tissues (no, not Kleenex, I mean your bodily tissues). This is a quick and effective tool to either help jump start your body’s ability to function during in the morning, or decompress and fully relax you prior to going to sleep. There are a few ways to go about this, but I enjoy starting with the head and working down toward my feet. The method is to contract the muscle/area for 10-15 seconds, then allow full tension release in that area; beginning with the brow, then cheeks, neck, shoulders, arms, fists, upper back, chest, abdomen, mid/low back, glutes, thighs, calves, and feet. I personally find this is one of the BEST ways to help me fall asleep and will do this in bed right after I lie down.

5.Slow Down While Your Eating: Enhanced hydration, digestion, weight maintenance, and meal satisfaction are just a few benefits of reducing the urge to scarf food into your stomach. If you are ‘on the go’ we find reasons to justify eating quickly, in the car, or grabbing anything within reach to just “eat” because you are hungry. When our bodies feel satisfied with nutrients from a meal, it can take about 20 minutes for the information to register for your brain. So if we find ourselves eating too quickly, we can be “full” without even knowing it, causing overeating and decreased digestion efficiency; a.k.a. the food coma effect. Here are a few ways to ‘distract’ you from overeating: Drink 8-12oz of water before sitting down for every meal. Place your utensils down in between bites while chewing. Take small servings, rather than overflowing your plate at the start of the meal. Enhanced hydration, digestion, weight maintenance, and meal satisfaction are just a few benefits of reducing the urge to scarf food into your stomach. If you are ‘on the go’ we find reasons to justify eating quickly, in the car, or grabbing anything within reach to just “eat” because you are hungry. When our bodies feel satisfied with nutrients from a meal, it can take about 20 minutes for the information to register for your brain. So if we find ourselves eating too quickly, we can be “full” without even knowing it, causing overeating and decreased digestion efficiency; a.k.a. the food coma effect. Here are a few ways to ‘distract’ you from overeating: Drink 8-12oz of water before sitting down for every meal. Place your utensils down in between bites while chewing. Take small servings, rather than overflowing your plate at the start of the meal.

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6.Breathe: So simple, yet we overlook its importance far too often! There is an unmistakable difference between just breathing to live, and consciously focusing on your inhale and exhale (even describing them made me reconnect to my breath!). For starters, take 2 minutes out of your day to emphasize an extended inhale…pause…exhale…pause, and repeat. Begin with a 3-5 second inhale, 1-3 second pause, 3-5 second exhale, and repeat as your body needs. As you become more comfortable with controlling your oxygen intake, start to lengthen the breath and the pauses; your lungs need to be exercised too! This is a great way to de-stress, warm up your body during cold weather, liven you up in the morning, and help even relax before bed…virtually an easy tool added to your toolbelt for any situation you may need. **”Stop, Breathe & Think” is a great smartphone app for guided breathing, meditation and mindfulness practice that only requires a 5 minute commitment. If you don’t have 5 minutes to invest in yourself, then you should consider re-evaluating priorities**

7.Engage in Exercise: The answer to relieving a bundle of emotions while creating a better human mind and body, what sounds better than that!? As hectic as your schedule might seem, there is always time to do something. If you don’t have “time” to make it to the gym, then do what you can at your home, or anywhere you have minor floor space! There are 24 hours each day, we must avoid falling victim to rationalizing yourself the fallacy of, “I am just way too busy. I have to bring Michael to swimming, Tiffany to kickboxing, have lunch with a new client, get my car detailed, blah blah blah”. By not allowing yourself important time in your routine to improve your physical well-being, you are doing YOURSELF and THE ONES YOU LOVE a disservice. Even 20 minutes of some body-weight movements (i.e. walking stairs, lunge, plank, hip bridge) will have a direct impact to improve your day. Aside from the appearance and self-efficacy benefits associated with consistent exercise, some others are; Reduction of tension and fatigue from early mornings and long nights. Improve concentration and alertness. Elevate and stabilize your mood and sleep quality to enjoy each brief moment, because they are what make this time of year so rewarding.

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8.Agree on an Alternative to Gift Giving: “Keeping up with the Joneses” can become tiring, expensive, and will never end for as long as you exist. Chasing what others have/want will always be in your rearview mirror no matter how wise, wealthy, or humbled you become; but the power to ignore comparing yourself to others is what you can control. Rather than spending hours searching and bundles of cash, try to think more simply and sentimental versus expensive and flashy. Make a special collage, build a terrarium, go on an adventure with them; it is not always what physical thing you are gifting, its meaning and purpose should be special. With my family this year, we had a ‘Secret Santa’, but we had the option of receiving a gift, or donate to a charity of our choice! Nearly all of us chose a charity because, let’s face it, who really needs more ‘stuff’ that we can obtain on our own over time? Being part of something bigger than yourself is more important than things.

9.Disconnect from Electronics 2 Hours Before Bed: Believe it or not, binge watching 3 ‘House of Cards’ episodes isn’t the best plan of action to start snoozing. The stimulation of computer, phone, television, or other device screens keep our brain active and work our visual system quite hard; hence why after working on the computer for a while you are prone to develop headaches. Many of us wonder why we can’t fall asleep, why kids stay up so late. The screen lighting and overstimulation confuse our bodies’ natural rhythm to wind down and be at ease. Change up your routine by skimming a book or magazine, doing some puzzles, listen to a podcast or soothing music while you wind down for the night; and notice the difference you feel after a week or two!

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10.Set a Budget, and Be Realistic: For a holiday that lasts just a few days, the blowback of emptying your pockets can have an impact for months! Nearly 2/3 of families in America don’t have a clue how much they actually spend, and would be utterly shocked with their jaw dropping number. You have to account for decorations, gift wrap, gas, food, entertainment, clothing, postage/shipping, gifts and charity just to name a few expenses. Sometimes simplicity is best, and if you cannot afford something, be honest with yourself. Going out of your means is not necessary, and you should never feel you have to prove something with material goods (easier said than done, I know). In order to be efficient, set a Realistic budget that you are willing to work with, and do not deviate from it. Sure, you’d love to bring in a carpet-cleaning service for the whole house before the holiday, but if the cost exceeds your entire décor budget, it’s time for a nice workout with a rented carpet steamer!

11.Enjoy the Time You Spend With Those You Love: Turn off the TV, put your phone down, take off your headphones, and disconnect, to connect! Technology has such a grasp on our everyday function, and as important it may be for pleasure and society to advance, many have been overly consumed by its nature.No more than 15 years ago, we left messages for people on answering machines, stopping at pay phones and got to them when we had our unbroken attention to give them. We used to engage for long periods of time without distraction, multi-thinking, multi-tasking and doing whatever stimulated us. Just last week I was visiting people close in my life, and all 6 people in the room were silent, staring at the their phone or laptop for a decently lengthy time before silence was breached; it’s mind boggling to me. I don’t think anything is important enough to overrule the camaraderie of physical contact. There’s no app that can replace laughter, love, and memories shared with the ones you hold close to your heart. So for the rest of this month, at least, be mindful of how much time you spend blankly staring at that screen, and be engaged to create lasting moments in time!

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If you are looking to discover more about yourself this upcomming year, Orca Empire Fitness has what you are searching for. We have extended our ‘Black Friday’ sale at an epic discount! Follow the link below to come join our family and experience mental, physical, and spiritual transformation!

⇒Discover Your Strength Here⇐

Wishing you Great Health and Strength,

Coach Sean