If the holidays make you feel a bit like Anne Hathaway's character in "Rachel Getting Married" -- or if they always seem to propel you directly into the middle of your own unique brand of family-related hellishness -- at least take comfort in the fact that you're far from alone. Holiday stress and family drama (like Thanksgiving itself) seem to have become part of our cultural legacy.
And don't give up! Any or all of these secret holistic strategies may very well (at least slightly) ease your pain.
Four Drops of Rescue Remedy Under the Tongue
Have you heard of this miracle stress-relieving drug? Dubbed "yoga in a bottle," it's a homeopathic remedy, meaning it contains very small traces of natural ingredients that act very gently on the system. If you're like me and other devotees of the stuff, just four drops under the tongue or in a glass of water will mellow you out instantly. (And, it won't hurt to sneak a few drops into the cider.)Kundalini Yoga for Stress Relief
If you haven't heard of them yet, let me be the first to tell you that Ana Brett and Ravi Singh's Kundalini yoga DVDs are amazing
. The immediate positive effects that they have on my mood (and waistline!) make it obvious why Madonna hires them as her private yoga teachers. And, when it comes to the holidays, the 10 minute segments entitled "Soothe Stress/Free Fatigue" and "Anxiety Antidote" on their "Yoga Quick Fixes
" DVD couldn't be more perfect. Either or both will start you out on the right foot and get you in the habit of taking a deep breath and connecting with your inner Goddess of Calm instead of getting dragged down into all the drama or overwhelmed by all the activity. (But really any form of yoga -- even ten minutes of it -- will help.)
A Rock in Your Pocket (or Around Your Neck)
Many massage therapists and energy healers know that various forms of crystals can be used for emotional healing and stress relief. For our present purposes, try rose quartz, kyanite, or moss agate, all of which can help soothe your spirit, heal your heart, and calm your emotions. A loose, polished crystal or a piece of jewelry will work equally well. Just be sure to run the crystal under cold running water for a minute or two to clear its energetic field before carrying it.
A Breath of (Minty) Fresh Air
Here's a good one: carry a tiny bottle of peppermint essential oil in your pocket or purse. Any time you feel the least bit stressed out or pissed off, unscrew the lid and take a deep whiff. Peppermint is unsurpassed when it comes to instilling one with feelings of both calm relaxation and vibrant positive energy. And, taking a moment is always a good idea. (Also: this one might be especially helpful for smokers who shy away from having a smoke in front of the fam ... and then for helping you quit.)
A Hot Sea Salt Bath
Taking sea salt baths that are as hot as I can possibly stand might be as close as I'll ever come to injecting heroin. The morning or afternoon before the family gath, you might want to try it. Just dissolve about a cup of sea salt into a super hot bath (the sea salt helps neutralize and remove physical and emotional toxins) and relax for at least 40 minutes. You'll turn to butter and the stress-busting, muscle-relaxing effects will help keep you disarmingly mellow throughout the event.
Tess Whitehurst is the author of "Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home." She's appeared on the Bravo TV show "Flipping Out."