As we ease into February, it is important not to forget to take moments to exhale the stress of new challenges we have decided to take on in the previous month. Although February is one of the shortest months this year, exhaling negative energy can help to calm nerves and remind us to go through the month with intention. Being intentional frees your body and mind of built-up tensions.
One can start by practicing breathing techniques commonly taught in yoga. Diaphragmatic breathing can be an effective tool for reducing stress. Start by taking time out of your week to sit with eyes closed, inhaling deeply through the nose and releasing out through the nose as the air gently expands out from your abdomen. Expelling air makes room for more positive interactions with those around us and our relationship with ourselves. For further relaxation, consider filling your space with reassuring aromas like lavender and vanilla and occasionally journaling. Practice sustainability by donating unnecessary clutter so that you have more room to exhale any negativity. February is all about inhaling the good and exhaling the bad as we brace through the bitterly cold weather.
February is a time to remind those that we love how important they are to us. There are many holidays this month that present chances for us to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the compassion of those who have changed the course of history with their compassion and love. With spring right around the corner, depending on the outcome of Groundhog Day on February 2nd it could come sooner than later. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we can expect spring showers and warmth six weeks early. February is also Black History Month, a time to reflect on the strides of African-Americans who have changed the course of history by breaking down barriers and being champions for change. On February 4th, celebrate Rosa Parks’ Day by continuing to learn more about black history and the milestones that still need to be made toward civil rights. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday is a day of feasting and celebration for Christians before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent starting on February 26th this year.
In accord with celebrating others, Valentine’s Day on February 14th is a great opportunity to show someone you love how much you appreciate them by making them a sweet treat like Ina Garten’s Profiteroles for the perfect mix of chocolate goodness on a delicious doughy pastry. As the days get shorter, on a frosty winter evening cuddle up with a bowl of Martha Stewart’s comforting and hearty Saffron Risotto with Shrimp and Peas meal. A bowl of this risotto recipe warms the heart and body after a day of freezing temperatures.
“Exhale” is about exuding positive energy into the world. It is about being honest and thoughtful about our emotions as we focus on continuing to conquer goals that are beneficial to our mental well-being. As you take your moments to breathe, remember to take that time to remind those around you about the importance of mental well-being and checking on those who may be struggling with anxiety and depression.
Photo courtesy of: Ruth Ochoa at Unsplash