Tips for Happier and Healthier Holiday Season
Many people, especially now that it is winter, feel a bit more congested than usual. And may even be starting to get used to this feeling already as a “normal” part of winter, but remember it’s not normal and you can wake up feeling energetic and healthy even when it’s dark and cold outside!
Colds here and there may not be so bad, and they may even be nice when you get to take off time from work. But the problem with colds is that they drain your positive energy, and make you feel more down and sad when it is already hard to fight this tendency with the stormy winter weather. Sometimes when I get sick, I even think that I am just sad instead of realizing my brain is just reading the cues of my physical body that mimic sadness like fatigue/lack of energy. And the holidays are supposed to be fun and about families coming together and celebrating the Christmas story of love and hope, and giving.
Motivated? So now let’s get down to the possible causes of sinus congestion build-up, and while we are at it put an end to the accompanying lethargic moodiness too.
Here are some of the most likely causes of sinus congestion, and yes it has A LOT to do with the accompanying changes in diet during the holidays:
- Eating too many dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, or yogurt)
- Eating too much sugar, especially late at night
- Eating a heavy meal less than 3 hours before going to sleep, or overeating before bed
- Allergies to pollen, mold, pets, or foods
- Smoking or being exposed to smoke or other environmental pollutants in the air
And now, here are some ideas for what you can do to avoid having congestion:
Exercise daily to where you break a sweat—this means your nervous system is in an active fighting mode, and sweating purifies the body—releasing the built up toxins that our body stores as mucus. In the morning this kick starts your fat-burning metabolism for the whole day!
Try for one week limiting your intake of dairy products which are a common cause of excess mucus.
Coating the nasal passage with sesame oil (other oils are not as pleasant). The oil traps allergens entering through the breath into your nose, and keeps them from entering your body and thus from causing an allergic reaction that leads to sinus congestion.
Eat dinner 3 hours before you go to sleep. When your body is processing too much food late at night, it builds up more toxins than it would normally and some body types are likely to store these in the form of mucus or body fat cells. You can have the same problem from overeating.
Try not to eat sugar for 2-3 days (important to double check food labels). Excess sugar is also a cause of excess toxins. After these few days, see how you feel. If you feel lots better than try to keep this up throughout the Christmas parties and family celebrations.
Use a neti pot, a device that rinses clean the nasal passage and washes out all irritants and allergens before they can cause an allergic reaction. It can also clean out any left over mucus that could be stuck from your last cold/flu that is still causing problems.
Practicing yoga postures where your head is upside down (inverted) or a few rounds of sun salutations or inverted poses in the morning. Even just a forward bend and a few others you know how to practice safely help to increase the heart rate, eliminate toxins in the body, and relieve congestion.
If you are aware of the energization exercises of Paramhansa Yogananda, these also work wonders for battling the feeling of fatigue and lethargy. Not only do they improve your mood, boost your immune system, and raise your heart beat, but they use your body’s own electric charge to basically zap the germ cells right out of you.
And most importantly try to stay in balance this season. Each day, despite whatever things are going on– stop for a moment and take the time to relax, get exercise (break a sweat!), and eat healthy. and remember, as long as you keep trying you will achieve success!
Sometimes we start the holiday season off worried about how to get the house clean and ready for company, what to buy as gifts for our friends and family, how we to handle the family drama, etc…. And we don’t really get a chance to enjoy the time we are given to celebrate the deeper and more meaningful reasons for celebrating the holidays. We forget that this is a time for love, for joy, for compassion, for giving, and for service to our brothers and sisters on Earth.
Here are 5 simple tips you can use to make the holidays a more happy and healthy time for the family:
1) When it comes time to feeling stressed about family problems or fighting, the best thing to do is to find a way to stop adding to this negative energy. Giving it negative attention only gives the situation more power. Instead, utilize the power of visualization and send positive energy to the situation:
Visualize your loved ones getting along in perfect harmony, being kind to one another, having a sense of sympathy and understanding, and forgiving each other. Affirm that there is peace and harmony, mentally repeat for each person needed that they have peace and harmony. See everyone surrounded by love and friendship, and surrounded by beautiful sunlight or bright light. Then notice any changes that occur within the family. Even by just changing your energy toward the situation, you may find that a transformation happens.
2) Be of service to those outside your friends and family. Give more hugs and more smiles to new people you may meet. Extend your friendship to more people around you than you may have in the past. Be open and kind to neighbors, or to the strangers in all of those stores you go to as you run all those holiday errands. Each person that you are kind to can be a part of a reaction in the positive chain of kindness to others in our human family.
3) Keep one place in your home the “safe room.” This will be the place where everyone in the family knows they can go when they need a moment of pure calm, peace, and relaxation. It’s the place where no one is allowed to fight, where anyone can go to get away for a few minutes alone. Only one person at a time of course.
You can put a yoga mat out, a CD player with spiritual music or relaxing sounds, a meditation cushion, spiritual books or art around the room if someone needs it. It’s the place to go where people can do the relaxing activities they need to re-energize and feel positive again. You can even put a sign on the door that says, “I leave here positive, energetic, and enthusiastic!!” (A positive affirmation from Paramhansa Yogananda as part of his energization exercises.)
Keep this area organized, clean, and satvik (or at a level of higher, heavenly or divine vibration). It may be a bit crazy around the house with all the activities going on, so things may get a bit messy… but this room is the sanctuary of peace so it needs to be kept visually aesthetic and uplifting. (Negative energy is attracted to places that are unkept or chaotic.)
4) Focus on having a consciousness of love and gratefulness. Instead of letting you or your thoughts get caught up in worries or fights, try to feel more love and gratitude for the time you have with your loved ones. Feel the divine consciousness that is alive and around us during the holidays. The Christ Consciousness, or the divine realization of our oneness with creation. (Note: If you are interested in learning more about this concept, I suggest reading The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Kriyananda or The Second Coming of Christ by Paramhansa Yogananda.)
5) And finally, volunteer or donate. Volunteer your time at a local nonprofit. Serve those who are in need, and feel yourself be a part of a greater cause or positive movement for change. Most people say that the things they did in service to others were some of their favorite or most meaningful memories in life. To find service opportunities you can search online by causes that are meaningful to you, or see if your local church or nonprofits have an organized trip around the holidays to do great works in other countries.
If you will be spending the holidays close to home, you could spend some time cleaning out the house to donate things you don’t use anymore to a church or organization that collects used goods. Not only will you feel lighter without all the clutter (see above about having a sattwic environment), but also you will make a bit more room for the holidays, gifts, and guests that come to your home.
So good luck to you and your family! And hope that these tips help you all to feel the goodwill and cheer this holiday season.