Tackle the upcoming holiday season with a clear mind and a healthy body.

main1

Between shopping, social gatherings and family commitments, our cortisol levels can easily shoot through the roof during the busy holiday season. Keep your body and mind calm with these helpful tips and wellness practices and you’ll be able to genuinely enjoy the holiday cheer!

While the holidays are undoubtedly an exciting time of year—catching up with friends and family, beautiful decor, delicious food—fitting everything into your schedule and budget can be stressful. Besides that nagging feeling of being on edge, stress can be very detrimental to your overall health and well-being. When our bodies feel acute stress (think the fight-or-flight trigger), the hormone cortisol is released through our kidneys. This is a completely natural process, but when we feel stressed constantly, cortisol is continually pumping through our bodies, throwing off our balance. This can affect everything, including our cardiovascular health, cause weight gain and contribute
to a weakened immune system.

 

  Take it to the Mat

yoga mat

 

Yoga is well known for its physical and mental health benefits for good reason. “One of the biggest physical changes that occurs when we are stressed is a change in our breathing, which generally becomes more shallow and erratic,” explains certified yoga instructor Duncan Parviainen (duncanyoga.ca). When our breathing is shallow, we aren’t taking in the amount of oxygen our body needs. Likewise, we aren’t expelling enough carbon dioxide: Think of carbon dioxide as a natural and constant release of toxins. To help focus on breathing deeply, Parviainen suggests practicing a counted breath: “Taking an inhale count of four and an exhale count of six will help you shift into the parasympathetic (relax and restore) nervous system.”

On your mat, try the restful crocodile pose: “Lying on your belly with your head turned to one side—or your forehead resting on your hands if your neck is sensitive—this pose is generally quite helpful for people experiencing intense anxiety or stress because you can feel yourself breathing against the ground, and it lulls you into a relaxed state,” explains Parviainen.

Our favourite yoga mat: We love the Lole Glow yoga mat ($35, Hudson’s Bay) to brighten our practice!