By Maggie Lyon Varadhan

Why is it that we let go of our healthiest practices the busier and more tapped out we become? Shouldn’t we amplify our self-care routines in keeping with the heightened stress of the holidays and the seismic push toward year’s end?

The bizarre thing about coping in any high stress maelstrom is that we often get caught in the adrenalin-heavy swirl of it. Instead of keeping ourselves both calm and smoothed down, we indulge the stress more. We are left depleted and gasping for air by the time January arrives with its pealing bells on.

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Jam-pack schedules and late-night parties are par for the course during this time of the year. But that’s not to say that stress, anxiety and depletion are necessary side effects. Rather, the revelry simply requires time to replenish after all our wild exertion, day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month. The more tools we have in place, the more practiced we become in drawing on these resources when things spin too fast and feel out of control.

We are talking about taking better self-care, in the most deadpan way, to our sleep-starved selves as well. Think of these ideas more thematically than concretely and use them if they resonate as signposts when you feel stymied or at a loss.

Connect with yourself daily. Meditate, watch your breath, do restorative yoga, knit, bake bread, take an aromatherapy bath, garden, do tai chi or listen to a guided visualization. Whatever is calming and in sync with you, do. Just get quiet. Be mindful in your body. Even if only for five minutes, take a soulful recess. Get into an early morning or nightly routine. Substitute a few minutes of TV, texting, eating blindly or messing around on the Internet. It doesn’t matter the form so much as the consistent action of going inside.

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Express yourself weekly. We all need an outlet, a venue for the outpouring of what is going on. Flushing yields clarity and joy and helps us better understand ourselves. Write in a journal, take a yoga or dance class, paint, vent to a friend or see a therapist. Somewhere, somehow, let the accumulation in your emotional body come streaming out. Make this a regular, sustainable commitment.

Indulge yourself monthly. Get massage, pedicure, reflexology, acupuncture or even a colonic. Put your body in the skillful hands of a holistic practitioner. For once, give up needing to do for yourself. Allow someone else to pamper, preen and tend to you.

Whether your motive has a more nurturing or cleansing bent, echo: “Connect. Express. Indulge.” Let that be your mantra for a while. Lastly, always nourish. Drink juices, eat clean foods that are close to the earth and treat your body with respect.

Here at The Beauty Bean, we like to think of our individual lives as colorful do-it-yourself mosaics where the pieces are carefully laid out, but equally moveable. Each one of us is in charge of maintaining these beautifully complex visual structures. Especially now, let’s be genuine and non-frivolous. Let’s look closely at the daily, weekly and monthly possibilities. Our lives after all are our ultimate master works.

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