Find Your Holiday Zen Zone

The holidays: a time of togetherness, of peace and harmony and, you know, doing your best not to run your mouth to your opinionated in-laws or pull your hair out when your drunk uncle talks politics. Breaking your routine to travel, sleep on an old Murphy bed, and eat and drink much more than you usually do are common holiday hurdles and can all take a toll on your physical and emotional health. We’re not going to suggest that you  wake up at 5 a.m. to meditate for an hour, or stick to your marathon training schedule every day of your holiday “break,” but certified yoga instructor and Sun Basket copywriter, Jenny Fant has some suggestions for things you can do to help find your zen, even when your surroundings are anything but.

Drink more (water)

Put. down. the dessert wine. And pick up a glass of H2O. Even if you’re a stellar hydrater 360 days of the year, you don’t have the luxury of routine to keep you ahead of dehydration induced by food comas, hangovers, and plane travel. Set a silent reminder in your phone every morning and evening to remind yourself to find the nearest sink and fill a cup. Staying hydrated is a simple, but often overlooked, essential to feeling your best physically and mentally.

Make a point to meditate

Have you been meaning to try meditation, but haven’t worked it into your daily routine yet? Or maybe you’re curious and have some extra time on a layover. Now is the perfect time to spend a few minutes a day experimenting by yourself or with an app. There are a ton of great online resources, but we recommend Headspace’s 10-day free trial or Chopra center’s quick how-to guide. And who knows, maybe you’ll walk into 2019 with a brand new calming habit.

Move (a little)

The holidays can put a crimp in your fitness routine, which can add to your stress. Skimping on high-quality endorphins may put you in a funk. The good news is, even a little movement can have a positive effect on your mood. Suggest going on a hike to your family, or wake up a little bit early for a solo walk. If you’re in a place that lacks walkable weather, consider a quick “25 x 4 workout” where you pick four of your favorite at-home exercises (think: push-ups, tricep dips, chaturangas, squats, jumping jacks, anything) and do 25 reps of each. If that’s not quite enough to get your heart going, repeat once or twice. It’s lightning quick and surprisingly effective.

Turn on some tunes

Not to be confused with your tween niece who refuses to take her off headphones. Several clinical studies support music’s ability to enhance mood. So go ahead and zone out for a couple of minutes by tuning in to your favorite playlist. If nothing else, putting on a song or two allows you to break the cycle of whatever negative or stressful feelings may be building up. You’ll plug in, recenter, and be better equipped to move on with a higher, more zen perspective.

Write down your gratitude

This one may sound too simple, but countless clinical studies continue to show that expressing gratitude, especially in writing, encourages happier, healthier states of being. We suggest recording three things that you’re thankful for in a notebook or in your phone if you’re in a pinch. Be specific. Instead of being “grateful for a great family,” be “grateful everyone can spend time together this week.” It’s a good practice to cultivate year round, but especially when your loved ones are getting under your skin.