6 Ways to Find Holiday Joy When You Miss Someone

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6 Ways to Find Holiday Joy When You Miss Someone
Guest post by Madison Sorrentino

The holidays can be such a joyful season of quality time with loved ones, creating meaningful memories and building beautiful, long-lasting traditions. But in all our lives, we will inevitably experience a holiday season that falls short of that merry expectation. Whatever holiday traditions you follow, there’s a big emphasis on spending time with the people you love. And if you’re missing someone you love during this time, it can feel like you’re out in the wintry cold, staring into the warm, cozy window of everyone else’s lives.

I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for over seven years. He serves in the military and we have spent more holidays apart than we’ve spent together. I’ve learned how important it is to build some personal practices to foster joy around this time, take care of yourself and build the hearth around your own heart. If you find yourself missing someone during this season, here are six tips from my heart to yours.

1.      Create one private holiday tradition that is just your own and involves no one else.
There’s no shortage of fun holiday traditions you can take part in with friends and family. But for every special occasion, I always like to have one solo tradition that I create just for myself. It helps me spend quality time with myself ( #selfcare) but it also empowers me. Having my personal traditions means that no matter what, there’s at least one special part of each holiday that I can still enjoy, even if I’m in a different part of the world or my husband is deployed.

Every New Years Eve I take one hour by myself to write a letter to myself. I tell myself what has been great about the past year, what I want to let go of, and what I hope for the year ahead. I’ve been doing this for over ten years and looking back over those reflections every year, gives me a lot of joy. Around Christmas, I have a tradition where I make hot cocoa and take a walk to look at Christmas lights by myself. I’ve done this in the wintry tundra of New York City, the heat of LA, and even the countryside of Sicily.

Ask yourself what you’d really love to do around this time of year and do it with just yourself, for yourself. Build one holiday tradition that you can enjoy no matter where you are or who is around.

2.       Reach out to others who may be going through a similar experience.
During my first few years as a military wife and going through my first deployment, it was hard to confide in and connect with other people. I soon found an online community of other military wives and met some amazing women who could all relate to what I was going through.

Finding others who can relate directly to your experience in a judgement-free zone can help you process what you’re feeling and find connection.  If finding an online support group feels particularly daunting, this article http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/find-support-groups has some helpful links with recommended support group resources.

And if finding others who have been in your shoes before seems impossible, consider finding a counselor or a therapist to talk to. They may not have had the same experiences, but finding that space where you can be yourself, open up and share what you’re going through is so healthy and incredibly valuable, especially this time of year. Here’s a great article from Jezebel on how to find a therapist: https://jezebel.com/5703322/how-to-find-a-therapist

3. Get out and get moving.
When I’m away from my husband (which is a lot) one of the things I have found most helpful in avoiding “fits of the sullens” is getting my body warm and moving. This becomes especially true in winter when I’m so inclined to curl up with a blanket and a good book for about three months straight. To get out of this rut, I attend a dance class, weight lift or even book a spot at my favorite yoga class (wink wink).

Get yourself out into the world, breathe fresh air, move your body and interact with other people. This may be something you have a lot of resistance to if you’re feeling down or missing someone, but it’s balm for the soul, I promise.

4.       Spend time with others who also love that person.
I spent my first Christmas away from my husband with a circle of close family friends. We were all missing him and after a few glasses of wine, the stories of funny Christmas memories of years past came flooding in and I got to hear about a whole other side of the person I love. In a way, we got to celebrate him while we were celebrating the holiday. Spend time with the people who also love and miss the person you are missing. Take the opportunity to celebrate them together. Share funny stories, enjoy a food they love, and make a toast in their name. It’s a beautiful way to include someone in the holiday festivities, even if they aren’t there physically.

5.       Don’t just smile—let the feelings flow.
It can be tempting to try and put up a front for others during this time if you’re feeling down. Don’t worry about putting a damper on the party if you’re feeling sad. And don’t try to block out your feelings. Denying your feelings only serves to bottle up emotions. Let yourself cry, beat a pillow, confide in others and give yourself permission to feel all the feelings. It’s better to dive into a wave of emotion than fight the current.

6.       Play Santa
One thing I always love about the holidays is being a Santa for others. When I was younger, my mother would take me to our favorite diner around Christmas and I would scope out a family whose meal I wanted to pay for. We would hail their waitress, take care of their bill and write a note to them from Santa. It’s one of my favorite holiday memories of all time.

Finding ways to give to others just makes us feel good. And when we feel particularly down about our own situations, doing something to improve the lives of others, really does have a miraculous impact on our own mood and outlook.Consider volunteering, buy a gift for a child in need or find a family to secretly gift a meal to at your favorite diner. No matter what, you’ll feel warmer and fuzzier afterwards.

If you’re missing someone this time of year, just know that you’re not alone and that you are loved. I’m sending out a virtual hug to anyone who need it. And remember that your best is more than good enough while you’re getting through.

No Place Like Home for the Holidays... or Can There Be?

No Place Like Home for the Holidays… or Can There Be?
Guest post by Liz Sherman

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Have you ever heard the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas”? The lyrics go like this:
I'll be home for Christmas/You can plan on me/Please have snow and mistletoe/And presents on the tree/Christmas Eve will find you/Where the love light gleams/I'll be home for Christmas/If only in my dreams…

For my whole life until now, I’d always identified with the first part of the song: “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me”. No matter what, I’ve always been in the door, around the tree by December 24th for our family’s combo Christmas/Hanukkah celebration. This year though, I’ll be singing the last two lines of the song. Location and circumstance mean that instead of NY tundra, I’ll be in India--hot, tropical, and with only 2.3% of the population being Christian (and far, far less being Jewish), not quite the same Chrismukkah atmosphere.

 I kept yelling “It’s okay to come down! I’m a vegetarian!”

I kept yelling “It’s okay to come down! I’m a vegetarian!”

I’ve celebrated other holidays abroad before. I’ve been away for Thanksgiving for example, (which, in almost all of the rest of the world is known as “Thursday”) a grand total of seven times. What consistently impresses me about celebrating a holiday while away from home is how people rally to celebrate with me. No matter where I’ve been worldwide, my friends have made me feel at home--even if “home” in this case was just the feeling of being surrounded by love. My first year in England I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 26 people. In Thailand, I ate noodles in the jungle and had to get a chicken out of my rafters with two brooms… but I appreciated he stopped by nonetheless. 🙂

Are you away from home and feeling like you need a boost? Here are my five pro tips to make the holiday season as nice as possible:

  1. Think about what your favorite parts of the holiday and why they matter to you. If you can, replicate them, even if there’s a twist. Sure, it’s possible you won’t be able to be with your mom and dad, but maybe you have friends who want to come over for a meal and share joy. Absolutely love Christmas cookies? Grab some friends and do a cookie exchange - it builds community wherever you are and you’ll feel warm and fuzzy (plus, you guys, COOKIES.). Love to give back at the holidays? Do it - even if it’s something as simple as cooking for street dogs or donating to an organization you care about (check out our faves here!).

  2. Decorate. No visual holiday cheer in sight? Bring it to your home. With no pine trees visible from my window, I bought a two foot pine tree in a pot and I’m using leftover Diwali lights to decorate. Palm trees the only option? Light em up! The birth of baby Jesus probably had more palm trees than pine trees anyway! No trees? Two words: paper snowflakes.

  3. Draw on holiday beauty around you. No matter where you are, there are holiday traditions. Try (appropriately) adopting some local ones and adapting to your own holiday. India, for example is all about fireworks and lights at Diwali. Chrismukkah fireworks? Why not! They indicate celebration worldwide, and can serve as a way to bring local friends in on the holiday fun.

  4. Spend time in community. Whether that’s with your community of friends, your national community (consulates often run holiday events), your religious community… whoever you consider your “people”. And don’t be afraid to toot your holiday horn! If you’re in a completely unfamiliar place where the holiday isn’t celebrated, people might not even know you need support or company.

  5. Let yourself cry. Sometimes, the holidays just… suck. It’s hard to be away from people you love, or maybe you’re away because of strained relationships and that hurts. Self care is important, and while I don’t advocate spending the entire month of December in the fetal position, it is absolutely okay to feel your feelings, whatever they are! Then, when you’re ready, go to the top of this list and try to boost yourself up.

  6. BONUS TIP! Want to support a friend who is celebrating away from home? When I lived in Thailand, another teacher at my school gave me an apple because I’d once said “apples remind me of home” and she knew it was a holiday for me. This little tiny gesture was so touching to me and really made me loved even though she had no idea what my holiday was about. Call your buddy and let them know you’re thinking of them. Bonus if you invite them to do something with you, or learn about their holiday and help them celebrate. The more love we give, the more we receive!

    In NYC and want to feel joyous before or after the holidays? Check out our classes here and let us lift your spirit(s)!

Give the Best. Gift. Ever. Gift-Giving for the Five Love Languages

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Gift-Giving for the Five Love Languages
Guest blog by Madison Sorrentino

The holiday season is upon us and if you’re like me, you’re probably busy trying to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. This season puts a huge focus on the giving and receiving of material gifts—which can be a wonderful thing! Even more wonderful is that there’s an enormous opportunity during this season to show the people you love how much they mean to you by considering their love language before you give them a gift.

Not all of us feel most loved from receiving physical gifts! In fact, receiving gifts is just one of the five commonly recognized love languages. There are some people who really feel loved when they receive gifts any time of year. If you can imagine your friend saying, “Look at this amazing candle my mom bought for me! I can tell she was really thinking of me,” then you know your friend feels loved from receiving gifts and it’s safe to stick with a traditional gift idea.

For the others on your list, here are some gift ideas for the other four love languages.

1.       Words of Affirmation

People who feel loved from words of affirmation are usually the people giving them out. If your friend or relative is often the person leaving loving notes, sending thoughtful texts or giving you a pep talk when you feel down about yourself, you know this person probably feels loved from receiving encouraging words too!

For this kind of person, consider writing them a thoughtful love letter (doesn’t have to be romantic!) reflecting on how much they mean to you, or what you admire about them. Decorate it and stick it in a lovely frame.

Or, consider making them a love jar. Write things you love about them on little strips of paper. Crumple them up and put them in a mason jar. Whenever they’re feeling a little down, they can reach into the jar and pull out a little message from you, reminding them of why they’re great.

2.       Physical Touch

Unless you’re in an intimate relationship with someone it can be hard to know if they feel most loved from physical touch. If they’re “huggers” or describe loving to cuddle when they’re in a relationship, it’s safe to assume they feel loved from physical touch.

For this kind of person a gift certificate to get a massage is a great idea. Or consider getting them a heated foot bath or a weighted blanket to bring some physical element to their gift.

3.       Acts of Service

Some people feel most loved when others perform acts of service for them. If someone shows they care about you by buying practical gifts or by offering to run errands for you, you know they feel and show love through acts of service.

For these people in your life, consider making them a packet of vouchers to request your help. Whether it’s helping clean their house, babysitting their kids, running errands or cooking them a nice meal, this gift shows that you’ll be there for them and ready to help with acts of service. Bonus--acts of service gifts tend to be eco-friendly, so you’re giving a gift to the planet, too!

If there’s an item that would greatly improve the ease of their daily life you can consider buying that. This is the type of person who would see a pragmatic gift as very thoughtful.  

4.       Quality Time

You know someone communicates love through quality time when they put a big emphasis on putting their phone away when at the dinner table, is a great listener, or is often trying to find fun and meaningful activities to do with you. For these individuals, spending time together in a thoughtful way is the best gift you can give.

Consider signing up for a workshop together based off a passion of theirs. If they like cooking, take a cooking workshop together. Or if they love yoga, buy certificates to take them to a Drunk Yoga class! If you want to make it extra cute, you can call it a “date in a box” and fill the box with little items giving them clues about what you’ll be doing together.

You can also plan quality time together by purchasing tickets to see a show with them or make a reservation at their favorite restaurant. In whatever way you chose to give a gift of quality time, make sure the certificate for the activity is already purchased and try to secure a date and time. That way they’ll know you’ve already carved time out of your schedule to dedicate to them.

Finding the right gift for someone is one of the most joyful parts of the holiday season and considering the recipients love language will really take that to the next level. Now go spread the love!

 Thanks to https://www.kxl.com/taco-lovers-love-language/ for the awesome image!

Thanks to https://www.kxl.com/taco-lovers-love-language/ for the awesome image!



Corporate Wellness for Workplace Joy

I feel lucky.

Nearly every week, I get to leave my happy Drunk Yoga bubble and head to corporate America. I don’t feel lucky because I get to go into shiny office spaces, get an ID badge, or anything like that. I feel lucky, because I’m helping a group of chronically stressed out people find balance in their lives through movement, and letting go for a part of their work day.

As many of us hard-working adults know, in order to succeed professionally, we must strive for health at all levels (physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual). This is not new news (but it is mentally exhausting news!). A Huffpost article from March 2013 entitled, “Career Success Means Work-Life Balance,” explains just how important this topic is to today’s young professionals. The article states that many men and women no longer rank money as the “key determiner” of a successful career, but value work-life balance much more.  

And that sounds great, of course, but in real life, it’s not always so practical or easy to balance the two. Fortunately, more and more businesses of all sizes are recognizing the importance of not just a positive work environment, but a culture in the work place that encourages employees to engage in activities that allow them to thrive. When you’re supposed to have it all and be it all, we sometimes need permission from our employers to take the time to restore. The article above offers many examples of companies that have recognized and are creating corporate events for their employees that emphasize health and wellness as a way of nurturing productivity--and we salute them!

Imagine, you’re sitting at your desk, staring at the umpteeth spreadsheet, and your boss pops by with a glass of wine. Our Operations Manager actually watched the head of HR in her old company do this once--and the response was amazing. Instant smiles, laughter, and relaxation, exactly the kind of feelings most employers want to foster, and the way most employees want to feel. Imagine if she had also brought a yoga mat, something synonymous with relaxation? The combination of these two things, and encouraging work-life balance says to staff: “We know you work hard. We see you. You deserve this moment of relaxation because we value you.”

This is why I feel lucky to teach Drunk Yoga in the corporate sphere-- to see people relax, recharge and  feel this moment of appreciation from their employer.

In addition to being a complete morale booster for all the reasons listed above, people who exercise together tend to encourage each other more than those who don’t. That means that the benefits of a Drunk Yoga class don’t stop when the mats get rolled up -- they continue because they help to build community and team cohesiveness.

In short, Drunk Yoga provides the fun and relaxation of a happy hour, the exercise component that encourages team building, corporate wellness, and the ability to make staff feel valued and appreciated. What better way to combine health, camaraderie, and fun for a group of people who are all working toward the same goal. An end of day corporate yoga experience that brings a workplace community together for the simple purpose of being present and joyful, and I can’t think of a better reason to make Drunk Yoga™ part of your workplace culture.

8 Tips for Creating Joy at Home

Merriam Webster defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires” and “a state of happiness…bliss.” No offense to Merriam, but I think this definition leaves out a key component of the meaning of joy, that is – home. After all, who hasn’t felt the strong desire to go home at the end of the day or experienced a moment of bliss when stepping through the door after a long, hard work day. 

While the always reliable Merriam defines home as simply “one’s place of residence,” for most of us, home is much more than that. It is our refuge, our comfort, our safety zone, or at least we want it to be. We definitely assign feelings, dare I say spirit, to our place of residence – it’s even hard to say the word home without conjuring feelings…try it, you’ll see. 

Of course, in spite of our best efforts, we can’t help but bring our distractions from the outside world home with us, sometimes mindlessly depositing them into our precious space, leaving them to sit and simmer in what should be our sanctuary of, well, joy.  

So, here’s a few tips on creating an atmosphere that allows joy to flourish at home. 

  1. First, when asked how they create joy in their home, many busy people give the same, simple answer – ugh, I wish… If you are one of these people, I hear you. It’s almost involuntary to get home from work and vent to your roommate, partner, cat or just yourself about the difficulties of the day. I think venting is okay, as long as you don’t skip the step about processing and letting go. In her book The Wisdom of No Escape, Pema Chodron talks about the importance of being present in order to feel joy. She explains that “Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.” We are definitely not present when we are venting, we are dwelling on the hardship of our day, which has already passed. So, yes, vent away, then process however you see fit and try a few of these suggestions to help you move past the tensions of the day. 

  2. To aid in the letting go part, many people have turned to the age-old ritual of burning sage or incense to cleanse the home space of any lingering toxic energy. Vogue ran an article on saging in its August 2016 issue, which highlights the benefits according to Energy Practitioner, Colleen McCain. McCain believes burning sage is a good way to “clean out bad energy” and that sage really has become “a common household tool.” I love the calming effect it has and it’s the first thing I do when I get home. 

  3. I am also a bath fanatic. There’s nothing like a hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil to heal the wounds of a busy work day. Although the healing ability of the magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salts is scientifically unproven (see WebMD), I’m a believer 😊.

  4. Since I’ve always turned to nature to uplift me, I try to live near parks in the city. To look out the window and see trees and sky gives me a palpable sense of joy. It truly helps me to slow down and be present. Henry David Thoreau, who certainly mastered being present in nature, backs me on this – “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” 

  5. Drunk Yoga’s Operations Manager, Liz, makes some excellent points about bringing joy into her home. For her, it’s important to have an organized home. She says it gives her an immediate mental break from the craziness of the outside world.

  6. Liz also loves how happy meaningful art in her home makes her feel. This can be anything from framed artwork to souvenir trinkets picked up while travelling. Putting your own personal touches on a home, that is, not just coordinating colors and styles and all that, but incorporating objects that mean something to you, is vital to creating a joyful environment for yourself. 

  7. Liz also says plants in her home make her happy. Plants are also a great way to bring nature indoors. 

  8. Many people find cleaning a great stress reliever (not me, but many). Just the physical activity of cleaning can help release tension and who doesn’t love the peace that comes with having a clean home. For some of those aforementioned many people, the joy is not in the cleaning itself, but the satisfaction that comes from a clean house. It can be easier to handle what life throws our way when we’re starting from a clean, orderly home base. 

I think it’s safe to say, that consciously creating joy in our own homes is vital to well-being. Joy heals us, uplifts us and most importantly, pulls us into the present. I love the idea of every one of us having our own version of a joyful home to return to at the end of the day. 

 

5 Ways to Treat an Accidental Hangover

Oops…that feeling…ugh. You wake up in the morning with a dry mouth and slight headache, wanting to kick yourself for that last glass of wine (was it glass #3 or more? did I forget to eat? double ugh). Knowing you have a full day ahead, you just want to hit the ground running, but that fog of heaviness has seeped through every pore in your body and settled in your head and digestive tract for the day. It’s slowing you down. What to do? Fortunately, there are a few remedies that do not involve “hair of the dog.”

Here’s some tips:

  1. First, and this is important, forgive yourself. That’s right, the fact that you’re mad at yourself for this unplanned road block in your day says that hangovers are not part of your life plan. Spending the day giving in to that proverbial kick by verbally abusing yourself in your mind is just going to make things harder. It was a momentary lack of judgment, that’s all. You made a mistake that caught up to you, but you are not a mistake. You are human – perfect in our imperfection, I like to say.

  2. Hydrate. Lemon water is best for hydrating in my experience, because it’s easy on and soothing to the stomach. It helps with digestion, too. Coconut water is also great for re-hydrating quickly. What’s more, today would be a great day to try out that hydrating electrolyte powder you keep forgetting to use after you exercise. Personally, I like Shaklee Performance Hydrate Electrolyte Powder. It’s low sugar and is made from coconut water powder

  3. Eat easy to digest, highly nutritious food. Even though you might be craving a greasy burger and fries, your body will forgive you faster if you opt for healthier foods. In an article written for Cosmopolitan magazine by Catrionna Harvey-Jenner (September 2017), a number of nutritionists suggest avocado as the food of choice to ease hangover symptoms. Weight Watchers nutritionist Steph Williams explains that scrambled eggs and avocado toast “works a dream” when she’s hungover and “sets me up to make better food choices for the rest of the day.” In a similar article for Elle magazine by Kristina Rodulfo (December 2015), chef Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy) swears by an avocado and egg sandwich to satisfy her craving for something “salty, savory, and comforting” on hangover days.  

  4. If you’re suffering from the kind of hangover that makes the thought of healthy food out of the question, try munching on some blueberries to start (just my personal experience). A simple protein shake would be great on a day like this, as well, and might be easier to consume than actual food that needs chewing.

  5. Of course, the best part of a hangover day is going to bed early that night. Getting enough sleep is vital to recovery and a sweet release to the self-inflicted challenges of getting through a busy day hungover.

But, by the end of the day, hopefully your hangover has subsided, you’re re-hydrated and have a happier head and stomach. So forgive, enjoy the good sleep and better luck the next time you’re faced with that having one last drink decision…