Northside SF
Health Matters
How to find balance during the holidays
The holidays are a time for gratitude, joy and celebration. Unfortunately they can also be times of unbalance, stress and chaos. According to WebMD, over two million Americans complain of being tired daily. During the holidays this number skyrockets. Are you one of the two million? If so what can you do to avoid the stress of the hectic holiday season?

Luckily there are simple ways we can manipulate and convert energy within and around ourselves to enjoy a better sense of balance. As Albert Einstein said, “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” When our energy flow is smooth and balanced, we feel good. When there is interference at any point, we feel empty, confused, pressured, or blocked. Dr. John Travis, a leading figure in the modern wellness movement, developed an innovative model called the Wellness Inventory, which identifies 12 dimensions of wellness. Within those 12 dimensions, we have three major sources for energy input that we can use to help us stay balanced: breathing, eating and sensing. Simply put we can reenergize and increase our energy flow by using these three inputs.

As humans, we can survive for many weeks without food and for several days without water. But without air life ceases in a matter of minutes. The fact is that every cell in the organism requires a continual charge of oxygen to carry out its function. To steady ourselves and reenergize our systems, taking three to four deep, conscious breaths can really help. As we become aware of our breathing, we feed our cells, relax tense muscles, reduce stress, and move closer to a sense balance.

We can also pause during the day to notice if our posture is facilitating full, natural breathing. Sitting for hours hunched over and neck strained discourages the flow of oxygen into the lungs. The result is that we tire easily, start to feel foggy, and may soon lose interest in the task at hand. We think we need time out for a coffee break, when what we really need is more oxygen.

It is through the senses – seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, tasting – that we come to know and enjoy our world. Our abilities to work, feel pleasure, communicate with others, and impact the world are directly related to our abilities to appreciate and use our sensory input efficiently and creatively. To tune in to our senses, turning on some tunes can really help. Listening to music is one of the most effective ways to shift a bad mood, decrease tension, and increase energy. Pleasant sounds can enhance deep relaxation, supplying you with new energy and stimulating creativity. We can also use smell as a source of healing and pleasure as the sense of smell is generally one of our most neglected forms of energy input. Tuning in to holiday smells like home cooking, crisp evergreens or fresh flowers can center us and help us appreciate the moment at hand.

The third energy input type is the food we eat and liquid we drink as a part of a balanced and nutritious diet. Unfortunately holiday food is often filled with too much salt, fat and sugar, which we then wash down with maybe a bit too much alcohol. A balanced diet is important for the workings of the body’s cells, tissues and organs, which regulate how we feel and how we handle stress. Adequate water intake also energizes and enlivens our cells. Getting back on track with a balanced diet as soon as we can after our holiday eating will help us get all the correct types and amounts of foods and liquids for adequate nutrition, giving us abundant energy. Don’t forget that eating our food slowly and taking the time to appreciate the flavors and textures will help us avoid overeating that we may later regret.

Indeed the holiday season can be stressful, but being conscious of these three energy inputs can help tremendously. Pay attention to your breath, use your sensory experiences to help you relax, and balance holiday indulgences with healthful food. In the end, these simple tools will allow you to maximize your energy and equilibrium of mind, body and spirit.
Stacy Conlon is a certified wellness coach at SenSpa Wellness Center, 

March 2012
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