Which of the following feels the closest to your truth as holiday season unfolds:
A) Holidays give me life! I cannot wait to see family, friends and love all the parties.
B) I gathering with family and friends, but am stressed and overwhelmed by all the things I have to manage and do to be ready.
C) Excited for the holidays to be over. My family can trigger stress for me, and sometimes being around a lot of people makes me feel exhausted.
D) Some mix of all the above depending on my mood or the day.
As a TCM practitioner, I can tell you that the holiday season is often when ailments peak, compared with other times of the year. Sure, the winter season is when immune systems naturally tend to run low, so more people get sick with cold and flus. But, this is also a time when a lot of backs go out, necks freeze up, bowel and skin issues flare.
These are common issues when emotional stress levels reach their peak. When your body or skin take a hit, you may even feel perplexed. "But I don't feel stressed," I've heard many say as they struggle to put on their socks or try to identify a dietary trigger to a flare up of multiple new cystic pimples.
And that's the thing, when we're not able to identify consciously that we're actually uncomfortable, anxious, or deeply frustrated about a situation—that's when our body takes the pressure on for us. I see this in a lot in patients who identify as people pleasers or high achievers (thus, often too overwhelmed to connect to how they feel), and the sensitive empathic types who feel everything and everyone around them (and often enjoy quiet time alone for that reason).
If this resonates, then your next question is likely: what can I do? You can actually use our Lanshin tools to support your emotional health, not only your skin health. Though, the two are actually connected—emotional health is skin health. Here are some common recommendations I give to my own patients, including techniques you can utilize with your Lanshin tools.
1) Get to know your warning signs.
Do you know how your body feels when you're uncomfortable or stressed? For me, I usually feel my breathing become tight, as if something is tightening its grip from inside my chest. This happens to me in social situations around new people, but can also happen with close family or friends. For example, if we don't agree on something in conversation I will often—as the "peacemaker" type"—try to prevent any uncomfortable awkwardness even if I disagree. Might seem like a small thing, but it can be major for the nervous system. If you feel the onset of your warming signs, then try any or all of the following.
2) Take refuge in the bathroom.
If you're an introvert or sensitive empath type, you will benefit from taking a quiet moment away from other people, even if they are close and comfortable family or your own children. This is not a fault, it's just how some are wired (including me). Bathrooms are nice because people tend to leave you be. Find the one with the least traffic and have a soothing beverage. Or apply a skin cream, oil, or balm with a scent you love that makes you feel good. This engages your physical senses (touch, smell, taste) which is soothing to your nervous system and gets you out of your head.
3) Soothe with your Lanshin Massager by Acera.
You know that eye-closing moment of blissfulness, when you first touch your warm massage tool to your body? When your body just sighs with relief, like "ahhhhhhhhhh." Use that moment to divert your nervous system from anxious and overwhelmed "in your head" feelings to ones of peace and quiet in your body. Try using the Lanshin Massager by Acera at the top of your arm where it meets your shoulder. Hold for a few beats, then stroke down your arm. Repeat. Hold, and stroke. As you do this, count backwards from 50, even numbers only. When finished, moved to your other arm and count backwards from 51, odd numbers only. Check in once complete, and see if you feel a bit more grounded and back to yourself.
4) Soothe with your Lanshin Gua Sha tool.
You can use your Lanshin Pro Gua Sha Tool or Lanshin Intro Gua Sha Tool. Prep the skin on your cheek with a facial hydrating mist and a few drops of your facial oil of choice. Hold the flat body of your tool next to your nose and stroke back, across your cheek to your temple. Repeat this stroke as you count backwards from 50, even numbers only. When finished, move to the other cheek and do the same thing, except count backwards from 51, odd numbers only. Check in. How do you feel? Hopefully a bit more peaceful inside.
5) Give everything to your sleep quality.
Make every extra effort to get quality sleep through the night, starting before midnight. Ideally bedtime in winter is close to sundown. For modern folks, 10pm is a good target time. For many, that will feel impossible, so use this as a guide and get as close as you're able to. With holiday travel, consistent and regular sleep can often become a challenge, so give yourself permission to take naps. Give your body an opportunity to be still and at rest. Sleep quality is probably one of the best things you can do for your emotional and mental health—and it doesn't cost anything.
If you find this helpful and want to learn more about Gua Sha and massage techniques that reduce acute anxiety and soothe your nervous system, join us for our next TCM Office Hours, a LIVE class, created especially for holiday stress support. Details below:
Join us Monday, December 19 at 8pm EST / 5pm PST for a LIVE learning experience all about self-soothing techniques to use during the holidays and beyond.
We're also thrilled to share we're donating 15% of all ticket sales to Reciprocity Foundation, an NYC-based nonprofit whose resources and mental health programming support trauma survivors who identify as BIPOC/LGBTQ, and young adults who are next-generation healers and leaders.