This is not something people often talk about, but most of us will find ourselves going from the one chore to the next, trying to get it all done, and this time of the year, we can quadruple that pace.
Let me take you behind the scenes and tell you what my life looked like 20 years ago. I developed eczema from stress. Quite pathetic if you think that the only thing is was stressing about was my University exam. I had no financial, emotional or family stress.
I got a great cream from my doctor and wasn't long before i developed an allergy. For that i also got medication.
To cut a long story short, the one thing followed after the other, there was shortage of breath, anxiety and then finally my gallbladder was removed. (apparently we develop gallstones from stress)
I remember sitting with my doctor and him saying, "Shantelle, if you don't do something about your stress levels and learn to manage them, i am not going to continue treating these symptoms, Your body is manifesting stress in all kinds of ways and you are not listening".
He gave me the number of a gentleman (Psychology lecturer) who at the time was teaching in my department at the University.
He gave me this advice:
Find an hour in every day to do something you love
Find a day in every week to do something you really want to do.
Plan a 3 week break every year, and try to do it on the same date every year.
My life of student was living in a dorm, the only hour i could think about was at 6 when i had wine with my roomies and we watched soapies. Sound shallow? That is ok, when you are 23, meditating on classical music is not high on the agenda when it comes to relaxing. I found something and I committed to not skipping a day of Wine and Egoli.
On Saturdays I studied and finished all the loose ends. On Sundays, I slept late and never felt guilty. My parents weren't too excited about this sleeping late thing, but i new I had to get into a routine.
We camped every year so this was the easy part. After my exams in November i would start preparing for the camp. Today this is different. My preparation involves baking a Xmas Cake and booking our campsite, but 2 decades ago, it was all about getting into my bikini and working on my tan.
The model of this story is that when we teach our bodies that rest is coming, it seems to cope better with the stress. I am convinced that November is by far the most stressful month of the year and I know that my body is coping perfectly, because deep down it is in a routine and subconsciously knows that by mid-December all phones and computers are packed away and we switch off.
Today i don't watch soap operas or drink wine everyday anymore, but i do take time to breathe daily. I start in the mornings, by spritzing my shower with my Elim YogaSpritz breathe and i take time to breathe deep and intentional. Sound weird? Not at all. Remember oxygen is what keeps you alive. We can not simply shallow breathe all day long. You need to take time and fill your lungs.
It was the first thing you did when you came into this world and it will be the last thing you do when you depart.
Shantelle is the Founder of Elim Spa Products and creator of the YogaSpritz range for intentional Relaxation and Meditation.