Visions of the holiday season… Sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace (after frantically hitting the Black Friday sales), attending holiday gatherings (and hanging out by the kitchen or buffet table because a full drink in your hand and/or a full plate of food gives you something to DO if you don’t know anyone at the party), staying up late to fix your child’s Nutcracker costume or wrap gifts (and sacrificing quality shut-eye)… We have all been there!
The holiday season is a time of love, friendship, and happiness, but it can also lead to stress, over-indulging, and under-sleeping… A recipe for feeling dull and listless during a time of year that you want to feel sparkly and full of life.
Everyone seems to relegate self-care to their New Year’s resolutions, but I encourage you to take small steps to start NOW. It will make it much easier to stick to your New Year’s resolutions if you start TODAY to create a habit of daily rest and relaxation.
One simple way to integrate self-care into your day is to take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Most of us are aware of diaphragmatic breathing (also known as ”belly breathing”) and its role in the promotion of relaxation and calm. I am going to tweak the instructions just a bit in order to integrate a sensory connection between the pelvic floor (the “floor” of the deep core muscles) and the diaphragm (the “ceiling” of the deep core muscles).
Here is how diaphragmatic breathing can be done with a focus on the deep core muscles. I call it Core Breathing:
- Sit comfortably or lie down, and relax your shoulders.
- Place your hands below your bellybutton, fingertips lightly touching.
- Breathe deeply through your nose and into your abdomen so that your belly gently expands. You should feel your fingers draw apart. Sense a feeling of gentle downward pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Allow this downward pressure… DO NOT fight it with a pelvic floor muscle contraction (“kegel”).
- Slowly exhale through your nose or mouth, allowing your belly to return to the starting position. Sense your pelvic floor gently lifting. This should not feel like a “kegel,” just a gentle (and very small) upward movement of your pelvic floor as the pressure inside your abdomen decreases.
Throughout this practice your chest and shoulders should be quite still. The belly and lower ribs are what will expand and fall, and in time, you will begin to sense the pelvic floor’s gentle movement as well.
This is a lovely exercise to do regularly throughout the day — aim for 30 to 60 second “breath breaks” every few hours and give yourself the gift of relaxation as well as an improved mind-body connection.