The end of the year signals a slowing down of sorts. The monotony we know breaks so suddenly, quickly adjusting itself to the hum of celebration. The holidays are always thought of as the season of giving; for many of us, this is a time filled with last-minute gift shopping and carefully wrapped presents. Perhaps the best way to describe this season is as a time to express our love and gratitude to those around us. But sometimes the person we neglect the most during this time is ourselves. This holiday season, I’m learning to pay extra attention to self-care through the act of unwinding which, for me, extends from the mind to the body, bringing in each of my five senses. 

Touch: Stepping away from to-do lists and desk chairs, I feel a sense of calm as I take out time to consciously lay down my yoga mat, take a few deep breaths, and listen to my body. Following sequences of Hatha Yoga that draws from elements of both the sun and the moon in its movements, I begin rotations through slow and steady stretches that pay attention to every part of my body and build towards a fast-paced motion that increases my heart rate. As I engage my mind consciously towards lifting my leg higher than I could before or holding on just a little longer in my balance pose, I begin my process of unwinding. 

Smell: The act of setting up my essential oil diffuser is a signal to my body, telling it to slow down. The simple process of putting the machine in place, filling it up with sweet-smelling lavender oil, and watching the steam rise helps me remember that I do have enough time to take out to do something meaningful for myself. With every deep breath, I’m reminded of the importance of doing nothing whilst doing something. 

Sound: Picking up my guitar from its permanent position in my room, tuning every string until it feels “just right”, and almost instinctively plucking the intro to Here Comes The Sun entirely transforms my mood. I’m greeted both by the confidence that I can remember certain strumming patterns and chord formations, as well as the frustration that lines form so easily on my fingers and my hand. I’m caught in between safety in the familiar as well as a curiosity in how much there is left to learn. 

Sight: I have always found a distinct sense of comfort in the engagement between the hand that holds the pen, the thoughts that run wild in my mind, and my eyes that perceive the marks on the paper. The art of writing, to me, has been just that – an art. Whether I scribble down my ideas mindlessly in my hardcover journal or pursue a moment of nuanced reflection through my mindfulness book, I find that writing allows me to reflect in the rawest way possible as I can see my ideas cemented on a page. 

Taste: As the holidays radiate warmth, I am drawn to a family favorite dessert – my sister’s chocolate souffle recipe. Unable to bring the dessert alive myself, I rely on her help in guiding me through folding melted chocolate over the dry ingredients and in keeping the ramekins in the oven for just the right amount of time. The balance between the chocolate crust on top and the runny liquid within makes this dessert a wholesome reminder to treat myself and indulge in all my cravings, especially those that bring fond memories with them. 

As I run through my self-care routine, there’s not a single part of me that’s left neglected. Through the act of consciously engaging different aspects of myself in the processes of mental and physical destressing, I have found ways of unwinding that emulate who I am and who I’m working towards becoming. That’s exactly why my self-care routine is a gift that I’m truly grateful for this holiday season. 

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