• Sarah McFadden

5 ways to feel good this festive season

Updated: Dec 7, 2018


Sometimes the festive season can bring more busyness and stress to our lives, so to help combat this I’ve been including more self-care themes in my classes, with more time for softening and resting rather than physically intensive movement.


Feedback from students already has been really positive and many have commented how great it felt and how much they needed it right now.


Reflecting on this I decided to share some more about this, along with some other thoughts on how to simplify things at this time of year - to better look after yourself and to have a more connected and mindful holiday experience.


Yoga is truly more than a physical practice and yoga philosophy has a wealth of teachings that can be applied to our modern lives.

The first principle of the Yama's (living guidelines): Ahimsa is one very obvious example. Ahimsa means non-harming, both to yourself and to others. So this principle is something that is so relevant to reflect upon at this time of the year.


If we can consciously look for ways to practice compassion, kindness and respect - both in our thoughts and actions we have the opportunity to enjoy a more mindful, happy and balanced experience.


While I don’t really celebrate Christmas in a big way, I do enjoy getting together with friends and family. I enjoy the time to switch off from work and other life stuff to take more rest. In practising ahimsa towards myself - I try to ensure that the build up to the holidays is in line with this 'restful' idea too. And in my actions and choices of celebrating the season I try to consider the wider ramifications of the purchasing and consuming actions I take.


Whatever this holiday period means to you and however/whatever you celebrate I encourage you to reflect on which aspects have most meaning for you? How you might accentuate those? Are there any aspects you would benefit from minimising or letting go? How could you consider ahimsa in relation to yourself and others around you?

Here’s some suggestions for consideration:


1) Gift giving and receiving can be an exciting and joyful part of the holidays, but it doesn't always have to involve giving material things.


Removing some of the volume and material nature of the shopping we undertake is not only great for your peace of mind and busyness levels, it's also kinder to the environment - something we all need to be mindful of these days.


So what are some alternatives to buying material things, and how can we look to reduce some of our impact in this aspect?


Leo Babauta - author of the Zen Habits blog (which I find sooo useful and relevant for modern life) had a great way of putting this in a recent newsletter: “Talk to your family about alternatives. Can you do a gift exchange to limit gift buying? Can you make gifts or give experiences? Talk to them now, to avoid the awkwardness of some people buying gifts for everyone while others opt out. Talk to them about why you’re considering opting out of the consumerist madness, why you would like to avoid massive debt, why you want to avoid clutter and the manufacturing and resource-wasting nightmare that is Christmas shopping. Talk to them about what’s important to you as a family.”

And I've included some more suggestions later on in this post as well.

2) Go easy on the social occasions.


Catching up with friends and social get togethers usually multiply during this season, but sometimes the sheer number of events can bring more stress than joy.


If you tend to feel the pressure to catch up with everyone before the holiday break, or to attend all the events we are invited to - what if instead of putting this pressure on yourself to fit in another event in December, we make a time to see people in the new year instead, or plan a phone call catch up rather than having to physically meet up somewhere.


We don’t have to do it all! And chances are, if we try, we might end up feeling worse for it, so don’t guilt-trip yourself if you want to say no to some things. When you say no to somethings you’ll have more room for the things you do want to do - that are important to you, and hopefully you’ll be able fit in a little bit more self-care time as well.


3) Sometimes less is more.


Excess usually comes along with the holiday season. Having fun and socialising is a central part of festivities, but it’s important to keep taking care of our bodies and mind.


As much as possible, could we try to be more mindful, specially when related to some of our weaknesses (mine: desserts and cocktails!)...choose the healthy food option, say no to that extra glass of wine - yes, that one you regret the next morning! ;), and take a night off to relax and get me-time.

4) Nourish your body with practices that matter.


Rather than just flopping on the sofa at the end of a busy day could you sit for a short meditation? Or lie down for a restorative yoga posture such as viparita karani - legs up the wall pose? The latter options will actually replenish you more.


And make sure that you’re still getting to your regular yoga/meditation/other movement classes. Let’s be clear - this is the time you need them most. So if something has to give, let it not be these :)

5) Be sure to make a regular time for solitude and quiet.

Whilst going to classes is great, do remember that just adding a short bit of home practice to your life is also a very beneficial thing you can do for yourself! Of course the beauty of a home practice is you don’t need to leave the house, or find a class at the right time to suit you - you can do it whenever is convenient!


Just find a place at home where you won’t be disturbed and sit quietly for 5-10 mins.


If there is noise around you - you can cut most of it out by wearing headphones and listening to a guided meditation track, or some relaxing music.



Following some of this guidance can enable you to show up in the world in the best way possible and in ways that we as a collective population need more of.

If you’d like more suggestions on some more ethical and mindful gifts read on…


What better way to start the list than with a shout-out for yoga!

Yoga gift vouchers to support you or your loved ones finding a regular practice can be a very powerful and much appreciated gift!


To support this idea I'll be creating bespoke gift vouchers for whatever you've like to give.


Some ideas to inspire you are featured in this slide show:


I'm also able to create bespoke gift vouchers, so just email me if you'd like a gift for something else not mentioned above.


For more information about my gift voucher options, follow this link.

Positive News magazine brings so much joy to my life, it regularly lifts my spirits to hear loads of positive stories from all over the world. Published quarterly, this is a great gift to help balance the generally negative news cycle. Find out more here.

Wilderness Weekends do fantastic outdoor adventure weekends. I’ve been on a few of their trips and loved them. It’s so nice to get out of the city into nature with people who can guide you to different experiences that you may not be able to do yourself, and with all the necessary kit and knowledge to ensure you have a great time.

Vital seeds is a new, local seed producer based in Devon. What better gift than to inspire people to grow some of their own food or other plants with some amazing organic seeds. They have gift vouchers and specially created seed collections which make great gifts.

Choose a gift for a refugee instead. Forced to flee home - often with nothing but the clothes they're wearing, The Choose Love Store set up by Help Refugees is providing gifts of food, clothing and warmth - the absolute basics for survival. There is a physical store on Carnaby St in London, or you can shop online here. Every single purchase you make goes towards a similar item for a refugee, delivered via one of the 80+ projects Help Refugees support across the world.