The holidays can be a stressful time, especially when it comes to our finances. Between holiday travel and buying gifts, many of us end up racking up high credit card balances that could soon turn into credit card debt. If your dwindling bank account balance or skyrocketing credit card bill is stressing you out, take a moment and try these three tips from health and wellness expert and the author of “Your Strong Sexy Pregnancy,” Desi Bartlett, to help you recenter yourself.
1. Practice Yoga
“Any time that we connect to the body, the mind and the heart all as one, we find a sense of balance and clarity, and that balance and clarity helps to affect the emotional state,” said Bartlett. Simply moving your body in the right way can help ease your tension. Bartlett recommends these five yoga poses to relieve financial stress:
Sit with your legs crossed and your back tall, with your hands at namaste connecting to your heart.
“I always recommend that you begin with easy pose to invite in a sense of ease and let go of any stress or tension,” said Bartlett.
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Rest on one knee with the opposite leg extended to the side. Reach both arms up and move into a big lateral stretch.
“The reason I like this pose for letting go of stress is because the vision and the feeling are all about moving through or past a gate — whatever that gate is for you, moving through tension, moving through stress to the other side of the gate,” said Bartlett. “That’s really lovely.”
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Stand with your legs wide and lean your torso forward from the hip joints into a forward fold.
“The reason it helps to alleviate stress is because it brings you into a deep forward fold that alleviates muscular tension in the back of the body, which is where so many people experience tension in general — especially in the lower back,” said Bartlett. “It also helps to alleviate stress and tension on an energetic level. You can envision a waterfall washing down the length of your spine that carries away anything that no longer serves you. Additionally, any time you bring your head below your heart and your heart below your hips, there is just a relaxing effect on the nervous system.”
Lay on your side with one leg up in the air and grab for your toe, calf or thigh.
“It helps us to connect to the earth and to the energy of grounding,” said Bartlett. “Any time we’re stressed, everything feels heightened and elevated and too fast. If we want to slow everything down, we connect to the energy of the earth. With that particular pose, the earth supports us completely.”
Sit up straight with the soles of your feet touching in front of you. You can use a bolster or pillow for extra back support.
“[This pose can help you] get into that relaxation response — the nervous system can just [relax],” said Bartlett. “If you think of fight or flight on one end of the spectrum, relax and repair is on the other end of the spectrum. So how do I get from here to here? Breathing and coming into a very particular shape, like [butterfly pose], gets you there.”
2. Stand Up Straight
When we take on debt or aren’t happy with our finances, it can sometimes manifest itself as feelings of shame. Bartlett said that simply standing up straight can help alleviate this.
“When you think about shame, there’s sort of a caving in of the posture that happens,” she said. “‘I don’t want you to see me, I don’t want you to see what I’ve done.’ If I could work with that person, [I would] help them […] know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. This is simply an occurrence and we can move through it. It’s not forever, it’s not who they are, it doesn’t define them. And then also make sure that posture is lifted and a little bit more open, so that they can get out of that pattern. The pattern of shame is ‘Uh-oh you’re going to see me. Uh-oh, I don’t want you to see me.’ I want you [standing] up here.”
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3. Breathe Deeply
Breathing deeply is another way to connect your mind and body, and connecting to your breath can help you to feel powerful and in control of your stress.
“Simply by standing up tall, finding your strength, grounding your energy and breathing deeply, there’s a little bit of ‘fake it ’til you make it.’ You start to stand in power and show up that way,” said Bartlett.
To make sure you get the most out of your breathwork, it’s important to breathe correctly.
“Half of the people walking around right now aren’t breathing correctly,” said Bartlett. “We want to get into that full diaphragmatic belly-breath, which allows for the stress and tension to move away. So take a deep breath in through your nose. Fill your belly, fill your belly, fill your belly! When we inhale, the belly and the chest should expand. And then, we exhale…”
The next time you feel your holiday financial stress creeping up on you, do some yoga, stand up tall, take a deep breath and exhale the stress away.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
Last updated: Nov. 27, 2019