• Alexa de los Reyes

Pick-me-up, Calm-me-down, Get-me-through!

How are you holding up so far this holiday season? There are always reasons to celebrate and much to be grateful for, and yet the winter holidays bring a lot of visible and invisible challenges. Perhaps you have some emotional wounds that tend to get activated this time of year -- expectations and struggles around family, money, relationships, work, food, alcohol, religion, health, social engagements, consumerism, winter weather ... any I missed?

Below I'm sharing nine simple energy balancing exercises and techniques that I find helpful for a quick pick-me-up, calm-me-down, or get-me-through right away, and also some new nourishing practices to consider.

I need a pick-me-up!

Right away, in public: Meridian massages I love Donna Eden's Four Thumps, and I do a mini version for an energy boost at any time, just massaging or tapping on the K27 and Thymus points for a few breaths. Right away, in private: Kundalini shrugs This exercise increases circulation and frees up stuck energy and tension. While seated with a straight spine, inhale through the nose while bringing your shoulders high up towards your ears, then exhale through the nose while dropping your shoulders down with some force. The breath is forceful as well. Start slowly and then speed up, keeping your breath coordinated with the movement. When moving quickly focus on the exhale, as if you're pumping out air with your shoulders. Repeat for as long as is comfortable, then finish with a few slow deep breaths. Notice warmth seeping in, stress slipping away, and a fresh burst of energy. A new practice: Cold water immersion Cold water immersion can do wonders for the mind and body, including boosting mood, lowering inflammation, and many other healing effects. Try turning your shower cold for the last 30 seconds (up to 3 minutes). Even just splashing your face with cold water can bring a boost. (Consult your doctor if you have heart challenges.)

I need to calm down!

Right away, in public: Box breathing Start seated with palms on the thighs (when possible). Take a few slow breaths, imagining that you're breathing in through your palms. Once settled, inhale slowly to the count of 4, and hold the air in to the count of 4. Then exhale slowly to the count of 4, and hold the air out to the count of 4. Repeat for a few cycles. Right away, in private: Head cradle Place one palm across the top of your forehead, covering the two bumps, and the other palm across the back of your head. With eyes closed, breathe deeply for at least a minute. A new practice: Space clearing Emotions and thoughts leave imprints and residue in space that accumulate over time and can impact our moods. Clearing the energy in your space can bring a real sense of relief, whether with a room-clearing spray, a smudge stick, or sound and movement. Here is how I clear space.

I need help getting through this!

Right away, in public: "Scream into the Void" Have some feelings, requests, or grievances to air... quietly? Yelling and screaming can be cathartic but not always practical. Try typing your "screams" into this website, it's fun! Right away, in private: Heart hugs Cross your arms across your chest and tuck your hands under your armpits. Take slow, deep breaths and every now and again give yourself a gentle squeeze. Hold for a few minutes, maybe while swaying your torso side to side. A new practice: Self-compassion In this practice from Kristin Neff, the three components of self-compassion -- mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness -- help you get back onto your own support team.

Think of a situation in your life that is causing you stress. Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. Now say to yourself:

1. This is a moment of suffering. (Or, This hurts. This is difficult.)

2. Suffering is a part of life. (Or, I'm not alone. Everyone has struggles.)

3. May I be kind to myself? Put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest. Or adopt a soothing touch that feels right for you. Maybe there is a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as: May I give myself the compassion that I need. May I accept myself as I am. May I forgive myself. May I be strong. May I be patient.

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