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Day 3: Ten Days of Self-Care (The Holiday Countdown)

Hello hello and welcome to day three! Once again, before getting right into my self-care suggestion of the day, I would like to invite you to take a moment and allow yourself the time and the space to just settle into stillness. Move into a comfortable seated position wherever you choose, on the floor or in a chair. Imagine there is a string attached to the crown of your head and imagine gently pulling upward on the string. Feel your spine elongate as your shoulders relax downward away from your ears. Rest one or both hands on the belly, just below the navel. Begin to tune into your breath, just allowing yourself to become aware of it without altering it in any way.

Additional position option: if you have been wrapping gifts or baking or engaged in any number of holiday activities that involved slouching forward for hours and your mid-back is letting you know it is completely unimpressed, you may want to try laying on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and keep the soles of both feet flat on the floor (your legs will look like an upside down 'V'). Make sure you are still respecting the alignment of your spine: your shoulders will still be relaxed down away from your ears. Rest one or both hands on the belly, just below the navel. Begin to tune into your breath, just allowing yourself to become aware of it without altering it in any way.

After several rounds of regular breathing (one round = one full inhale and one full exhale), change it up and begin to breathe in deeply through your nose and sigh it out through your mouth. Imagine any tension you are holding is sighing out with your breath. Repeat this deep inhale and sighing exhale 3 to 5 times, then resume normal breathing. Feel like you need more? After a few rounds of normal breathing you can move back into the deep inhale, sighing exhale 3 to 5 times before resuming your normal breathing pattern again. You may choose to stay here, continuing with this alternating pattern, saving further reading for later. If this is what your body needs today, if this is feeling really good, stay with it. If you are ready for a new self-care suggestion, scroll on, keeping your spine nice and long, shoulders relaxed, breathing in through the nose, out through the nose if that is what feels good for you.

Day 3 Suggestion: Get Out!

No seriously, get yourself up and get outside. Make sure you are dressed for whatever weather you are heading out into, but head out all the same. Numerous studies have shown that spending time outside has a wealth of mental health benefits:

* reduces mental fatigue

* allows the brain to normalize and recover from excessive stimulation caused by exposure to computers, phones, ipads...basically the modern world as we know it. P.S: yes, this means when you get outside you leave the tech inside.

* reduces stress: 20 to 30 minutes outside can cause a decrease in cortisol levels (the "stress hormone.")

* helps alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety

* natural light helps elevate mood

Aim to spend 20 to 30 minutes outside every day. You don't have to make it into an event that causes more stress; it doesn't need to become an official outing to a park, just a walk around your neighborhood or a few times around your yard.

Day 3 Suggestion for the Suggestion: If You Can't Get to the Outdoors, Bring the Outdoors In

There are days when, despite your best intentions, you might not feel up to getting out. Your spirit might be willing while your body has other ideas. Maybe today is one of those days. In that case (and believe me I've been there), here are two variations:

*get outside as far as your front step, front porch, (back step, back porch), find a place to sit and have a hot drink. Bundle up if you need to, sit under an umbrella and just breathe in air that isn't the same air you've been breathing all day (ie the air in your living space).

*stay inside and park yourself in front of a window and open the window as wide as you can to get fresh air in. Make sure the curtains are open to let in as much natural light as you can get and if there is a sunny spot, by all means have a wee lay down in it. Have you ever noticed how cats and dogs will go lay down in a sunspot on the floor? They're on to something!

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