Connecting, Grounding, and Cultivating Gratitude
As the holiday season quickly approaches, many of us already feel the stress that comes with it. It’s all too easy for our sense of peace to get swept away with the seasonal wave of travel plans, family and social events, and the feelings of grief or loneliness that surface for many of us during the holidays. It’s all the more important to stay grounded during this time to prevent overwhelm and burnout. We recommend using the power of routine to combat anxiety and stress of the holiday season.
Science points to routines as an effective way to create a sense of stability, predictability, and mental clarity during stressful times. To get the most out of routines while causing minimal disruption to your current lifestyle, we recommend setting aside 5-10 minutes every day in the morning upon waking to start the day off with intention, and then again in the evening before bed to wind down for a good night’s sleep.
We’ve outlined a morning and evening routine we call Connecting, Grounding, and Cultivating Gratitude to help keep you grounded, focused, and calm. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably and have enough space to move around, and give it a try!
Connecting (1-3 minutes) to your body by linking breath with movement. Choose any simple movement that feels good to you and sync your breathing with the movement.
Here are some moves that we like:
Picking Apples - Standing, reach one arm up at a time as if you were picking apples from a tree. Breathe in as you reach one arm up, and breathe out as the arm comes down. Repeat 5 times on each side for a total of 10 deep breaths.
Cat/Cow - Starting on hands and knees in tabletop position (feel free to pad your knees with a blanket), take a moment to feel the ground under your hands and knees supporting you. As you breathe in, reach your chest through the gates of the upper arms as the tailbone reaches back and the eyes look where the ceiling meets the wall. As you breathe out, round the spine by tucking your tailbone underneath you, lift the belly button toward the spine, and drop your head to look at your belly button. Repeat 10 times for a total of 10 deep breaths.
Grounding (3-5 minutes) yourself by becoming present and focusing your attention.
Find a comfortable seat on the ground or in a chair. If possible, sit comfortably upright without leaning your back against anything. Once seated:
Soften your gaze a few feet in front of you on the floor, and without moving your eyes become aware of the space around you. Notice how the air in the room feels against your skin.
Then bring your attention to any sounds in your immediate surroundings. Without becoming attached to or fixated on any of the sounds, just notice what you can hear.
Start to bring your attention to your body as you do a body scan. Beginning at the crown of your head, do a slow and even scan all the way down your body, just checking in with how everything feels in the moment. Avoid getting stuck at any one area as you go down the body.
Cultivating Gratitude (1-2 minutes) helps us focus on what we do have versus what we lack. Once you feel that your mind is stabilized and calm, bring your attention to the abundance that is all around you.
Notice how that makes you feel and call to mind something that you are genuinely grateful for. The more you practice feeling grateful, over time your mind will shift to orient itself toward the good things in life as opposed to focusing on the negative.
Before getting up from your seat, allow your mind to be free and wander for a few seconds before bringing your awareness back to your body and surroundings. Then gently open your eyes, as you continue your day from a calm and grateful state of mind.
Once you incorporate this routine into your daily schedule, feel free to spend even more time with it, extending it to a 20 or 30 minute practice if you feel that you need it. Committing to this small practice will give you space to ground yourself during hectic times, as well as the opportunity to check in with how you feel and what you need.