How to Thrive During the Holiday Season

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF

 

December can be a stressful and lonely month when you’re experiencing infertility.

Here are some yoga and meditation practices I’ve found to be particularly helpful at this time of year. Even engaging in one or two of them can help you to feel less isolated and experience more mindfulness and gratitude as the holidays approach.

1. NOTICE YOUR BODY. What happens when you are feeling distressed? Does your jaw clench? Does your belly feel like its filled with gnarled rope? In yoga we practice listening to the messages our body sends us. But you don’t have to be on a yoga mat to do this. Any time you begin to experience stress, drop your attention into your body. Notice where and what you feel. Let this sensation become an anchor and ask yourself, what can I do in this moment to soften that constricted place? Breathe “space” into the sensation. Breathe out and untie the knots. Continue to breathe into and out from that place until you feel your body soften.

2. ROLL WITH RESISTANCE. When you find yourself being critical (of yourself or others) or avoiding a painful emotion, silently say the word “accept” or “welcome.” Making friends with that which we habitually to run away from can relax us, evoke more compassion, and help to lessen the emotional charge

3. MAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE. Walk, write in a journal, see a friend, dance, stretch, or just lie on the floor for 20 minutes. Yes, this is easier said than done during the holidays, but it can make a world of difference. If you it difficult to justify taking time for yourself, it may help to remember that when you are feeling nourished it is easier to be present with others ““ and that this is your greatest gift.

4. KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. Studies show that gratitude is transformative. Once you begin to write down your blessings you will find them in abundance, from a wordless exchange with a good friend to a cloudless sky. Cultivating gratitude not only trains you to see the proverbial glass as half full, it can contribute to mental and physical health. A series of studies conducted in 2003 found that people who kept weekly written records of gratitude slept longer, exercised more frequently, had fewer health complaints, and generally felt better about their lives when compared with those who were asked to record only their complaints.

5. GIVE OF YOURSELF. An array of studies have documented that the act that the act of giving actually changes your biochemistry. Giving doesn’t have to involve a trip to the mall. It can include volunteering or engaging in other forms of altruism. A homemade gift, a shoulder massage, a gift of emotional support, or a small act of kindness can make someone’s day. And if you need something to put under the tree, consider sharing a favorite poem or jotting down a personal anecdote or a heartfelt compliment. In the words of the poet Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Most of all, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You deserve it!

 

ABOUT NATALIE ENGLER, RYT

Natalie Engler, RYT is a National Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher who offers private yoga and small group classes to women at all stages of the fertility process. Her approach synthesizes ongoing studies in Iyengar-influenced and Vinyasa yoga with immersion in Restorative Yoga, which she learned as part of her 200-hour yoga teacher certification with Bo Forbes, PsyD, creator of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics.

Natalie has been an avid yoga practitioner for 20 years and a yoga teacher for six years. Through a dedicated personal practice and experience teaching individuals and groups, Natalie has witnessed the potent effects of Restorative Yoga on a wide range of issues. She is honored to be able to share this practice with women at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health.

In addition teaching yoga, Natalie is a wellness coach and health writer who has written for Harvard Medical International, Reuters Health, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Harvard Health Publications. She has been quoted in the Boston Globe, Yoga Journal, Parents Magazine, and Conceive Magazine.