The holiday season is a time for giving, but as you enjoy the pleasures of handing out presents to friends and family, it’s important to remember to be generous with yourself as well.
As a culture, we idealize busy lives as full and fruitful, while ignoring the physical and mental toll of burning the candle at both ends. Part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle is knowing when to slow down and give your body the benefit of rest. Restorative exercises, especially when coupled with a focus on slow and measured breathing, are a way to help your body relax and replenish itself, while soothing the mind.
Long, slow and deep breaths engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Slowing down your breathing can lower your heart rate, calm your nerves, increase mental clarity and help you sleep more soundly. Holding restorative poses for extended periods of time can help strengthen ligaments, safely stretch out muscles and release toxins that have built up in the tissue. Most restorative exercise can be easily modified to do at home, but even if you don’t have the space available, slipping into a quiet room for a few minutes of mindful breathing and meditation can do wonders for your body and soul.
From unwinding the knots in your neck to easing lower back tension, restorative exercise can effectively help you release the stress you’re holding onto. And a calmer, more rested you is the one that can make the most of spending time with friends and family. So give yourself the gift of rest, and happy holidays!