Okay, I’ll admit it. It’s not easy. Zooming from one gig to the next, trying to ends meet as a small business owner and freelancer, while preparing to take the Plant a Wish documentary to the editing stage and TEDxMaui to the Castle Theater stage. And of course, there are the holidays, a time of gift giving, gatherings, and a time when business can really kick it up a notch, for shops, agencies, and nonprofits a like.
If you’re at a nonprofit, this is the time of year you’re reaching out to your supporters, running your year-end fund appeals and possibly throwing a fundraiser. If you’ve got a brick and mortar shop, you’re getting ready for an influx of activity over the holidays. If you’re in the visitor industry, you are getting ready for the largest tourism injection of the year. If you’re an independent media/marketing consultant like me, you’ve got a pile of work on your plate and a ton of meetings/parties to attend.
So how do we do it? How do we reduce stress at a time when there are high demands on us? Here are five things that I find to be quick fixes during the holidays, both rewarding and rejuvenating, helping to restore balance in even the most nervous of bodies.
1. A walk in the park.
No matter how bad my stress is is, I always benefit from taking a break from my day and taking a walk into nature. It’s my version of “talking to God”, only it very rarely requires me to say a word. Sitting somewhere in silence, listening to the bamboo click and clack, or the birds chirp, or the waves crash, is something us Maui residents are extremely blessed to have at our disposal all year round. Studies have shown, if you get outside, it’ll do you some good.
(Total time required: 15 minutes)
“If you’re feeling helpless, help someone,” are the famous words of Burmese peace and democracy activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been making headlines and getting screen time lately. There is no “reality check” like volunteering for the community, those less fortunate, working with kids, or for the environment. One of my favorites are the Auwahi volunteer trips. You have to book space early, and it takes a full day on the weekend, but it is one of the most spiritually cleansing, breathtaking, educational experiences you can have for the ‘aina on Maui. Another idea is to volunteer for the Maui Food Bank, be a Big Brother or Big Sister, or explore options with “Hands on Maui”, the County of Maui’s Volunteer Center. If you focus your energies on helping others, it will help move your stress out of the way and bring out your natural urges to support others.
(Total time required: a Saturday, or just few hours a week)
I recently had the opportunity to try acupuncture for the very first time at the spa at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea as a part of their “Spa Week” promotion. Being considered by some to be an “influencer” in Social Media on Maui, I was invited to “try out the spa” and Tweet about it over lunch as a part of a global “TweetUp” campaign. I chose acupuncture form the list of available services, and I am so glad I did. While the thought of having long, thin needles stuck into my head, my wrists, my ankles had frankly scared the crap out of me, I’d heard of the astounding benefits of this 5,000 ancient Chinese practice and was intrigued. My fears subsided as I was treated to a highly professional, relaxing, and ultimately extraordinarily balancing experience. I’ll never forget how I felt, moments after my treatment, telling my fellow influencers Jen Russo (of Maui Time), Katie McMillan (of TEDxMaui), Liza Pierce (of A Maui Blog) and Roxanne Darling (of Barefeet Studios), “I feel so completely clear and balanced, it’s like every influence that was keeping me off-center has been removed, like I’ve been given a ‘fine tuning’.” I will definitely be back for more needles. Look for an acupuncturist near you, and see how easy (and painless it is) to feel better.
(Total time required: 15 minutes to 50 minutes)
Some people view massages to be “luxuries”, things you only do to “pamper” yourself once in a blue moon. But I have come to learn that “going steady” with your massage therapist can lead to lasting results in stress reduction, better quality sleep, and better muscular health overall. Ask anyone in my neighborhood, and they’ll tell you about Gina’s Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage at Hale Ho’omana Island Sanctuary in Olinda. Looking for a relaxing Zen Shiatsu massage? Chrissy Kapoor of Haiku does outcalls and is very knowledgeable. Want to add-on an intuitive counseling/coaching session? Call on the enlightened Alison Miller of Haiku who can help your body and your soul release stress. Looking for an experienced physical therapist’s massage? David McCord of Elite Bodyworks brings the spa to you.
(Time required: 1 hour)
5. Tie: Meditation & Yoga
For yoga, I recommend checking out Body Alive in Wailuku. Run by the creative, eccentric Rachel Gonzales, there is something for everyone in her studio (including “Broga” for guys). There are many options with meditation. Usually, all you need is to sit quietly and breathe. But for me, I tend to need a bit of guidance, a teacher, and voice to listen to, reminding me to let go of my thoughts, and just be. My favorite these days is a sweet-voiced Tibetan Buddhist Monk named Mingyur Rimpoche. His entire YouTube Channel is filled with gems. Here is his “What is Meditation?” video to start.
(Time required: 30 minutes)
Enjoy these resources, and make sure to take time for you during the holidays. We all need you to stay strong, stress free, and doing your part in the Maui community.
I’m sure there are plenty of other stress relievers out there, much more than is listed here. So tell me, in the comments… what do you do to relieve your holiday stress?