The Maharishi Ayurveda Holiday Survival Guide
The holidays can be a magical time of sharing and feasting, but they can also bring stress! With looming to-do lists, invite lists, gift lists, wish lists, and grocery lists, the most wonderful time of the year can quickly become seasonal chaos. It’s no wonder that many of us feel so stressed out during the holiday season.
Emotional stressors (like holiday to-do lists) can cause Prana Vata, the subdosha of Vata that governs mental functioning, to go out of balance. When Prana Vata is out of balance, you might start to notice occasional feelings of anxiety and trouble sleeping. But the holiday season doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are some tips from the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda for staying calm, balanced, and (relatively!) stress-free during the holidays.
Set your priorities
The main solution to holiday stress is to pacify Prana Vata. Getting enough rest is the key to keeping your mind calm and clear. If you start losing sleep over holiday pressures, it's time to stop and reassess your priorities. If you go to bed on time but can't sleep because your mind is busy making gift lists, try Blissful Sleep tablets and Slumber Time Aroma to help you fall asleep easily at night. Worry Free tablets and Worry Free Tea are targeted to calm Prana Vata and settle your mind.
Going to bed well before 10:00 at night and rising early, by 6:00 a.m., goes a long way toward soothing Vata dosha. Try to plan ahead. Nothing can make you more frazzled than having to buy last-minute gifts the day before guests arrive.
Check in with your emotions
The obligations and to-do’s of the holiday season can demand our time and energy, leaving us feeling depleted. Ongoing stress can contribute to imbalances in our mind and body, leading to feelings of sadness and physical fatigue. If you take time to check in with your emotions and heart during this busy season, you can let go of unnecessary stress and choose to let go of unfulfilling obligations.
Keep your digestion on track
When Prana Vata goes out of balance, it quickly affects other subdoshas—such as Samana Vata, which supports digestion, and Apana Vata, which governs elimination. Things like eating too many sweets, skipping meals, and eating late at night can compound the problem, leading to the accumulation of ama, the sticky waste-product of digestion. Ama can cause constipation, weight gain, and even a case of the holiday sniffles. To keep your digestion on track, try to eat three meals a day (don’t skip!) and plan your big holiday feasts at noon. If you eat a large meal at night, you may not digest it properly.
Don’t skip meals to go shopping
Planning on picking up a few gifts over the lunch hour to cut back on calories and avoid gaining extra holiday pounds? Unfortunately, it works the other way around! Skipping meals causes your digestive fire to become irregular, which is a direct cause of ama and weight gain. It's better to follow your normal eating habits to keep your digestion regular.
Eat warming, Vata-pacifying foods
Try to stick with warm drinks and meals to balance the cooling influence of Vata. Use warming spices (like ginger, pepper, and cardamom) in your cooking, and favor sweet vegetables like squashes; organic milk products such as hot milk with cardamom or sweet lassi (a yogurt drink); sweet grains such as pasta, couscous and rice; and healthy proteins such as panir (fresh cheese) and split-bean soups. If you put more attention on feeding your family wholesome, nourishing, cooked meals, you’ll be less tempted to load up on candy and sweets.
Boost your natural immunity
Don’t fall prey to seasonal sniffles! One easy way to boost your immunity is to take Bio-Immune. Start taking Bio-Immune before the holidays begin. It will help to strengthen your digestion and resistance even if your schedule and eating habits are less regular. Premium Amla Berry and Maharishi Amrit Kalash are excellent immune-enhancing elixirs to take throughout the year to boost natural immunity.
Keep things simple
When it comes to the holidays, most people try to do too much. According to a report by the Harvard Medical School, 23% of people surveyed report being overly concerned with holiday details, such as food, entertaining, and gift-buying. Yet, when you think about it, your family probably won't even notice the details you're fussing over. What they really enjoy, more than an elaborate meal, is spending a relaxing time with you. Parents should set the tone for the holidays. If you stay calm and rested, family relationships will be more joyful.
Don't try to do everything. If your mind is calm, you're more likely to make creative choices that favor keeping your family happy, rather than exhausted. Young children, for instance, might enjoy stringing popcorn more than a long trip downtown to see the Nutcracker. Light, daily exercise is important for soothing Vata, so taking the family on a hike or ice skating instead of a movie might be a better choice. The fewer late-night events you schedule, the healthier your holiday.
Try to stay rested
Your body heals itself during sleep, which is why quality sleep is essential to maintain balance. Ayurveda recommends turning in before 10:00 p.m., during Kapha time, when your body naturally supports rest, and waking with the sunrise. After 10:00 p.m., a more active, Pitta-quality sleep sets in. So, if you can fall asleep before then, a more restful Kapha-quality sleep takes hold; you’ll fall asleep more easily, and experience a deeper quality of sleep.
If turning in before 10:00 p.m. seems unrealistic, there are simple ways you can at least improve the quality of the sleep you’re getting. Try to slow down a half hour before lights-out and power down all electronics in the bedroom. Enjoy a restful activity such as reading, avoid electronics, and allow the light to naturally set in your home. You may find that drowsiness naturally comes on.
Remember the True Purpose of the Holidays
In Sanskrit the word for holiday is "utsava," which means jubilee, festival day, opening, blossoming, joy, gladness, preparing to go to a higher life, and the arising of a wish. In their essence, the holidays are a psychological tonic for the whole nation or region! In every culture, the holidays provide a necessary break from daily life and the daily grind. It's also the best time to enjoy your family and friends, and to pray for those who are no longer with us in person, but supporting us in spirit.
Amidst the hustle bustle of this holiday season, be sure to take the time to take care of yourself. No matter how busy your schedule, all it takes is a few minutes every day to center yourself, whether through meditation, yoga, journaling before bed, or simply unwinding in a warm bath.