I’m based in New Orleans, and at this time of year, Mardi Gras is in full swing. If you don’t live here, it’s hard to comprehend how much it takes over everything. Schools close, courts close. Carnival season begins January 6th, with the “Feast of the Epiphany”/ “King’s Day” and builds slowly to its final crescendo on Mardi Gras Day, “Fat Tuesday.” The date of Mardi Gras varies every year, as it’s dependent on the date of Easter. There are parades and balls and parties throughout the season, but the final five days are the most concentrated. These days are known by the major parades that happen, i.e., “Muses Thursday” and “Bacchus Sunday”. There are so many different types of experiences you can have during Mardi Gras- there is not just one version. It depends on which parades you attend, what part of town you watch them from, and so much more. Regardless of which experience you engage in, Mardi Gras Day has special, elusive feeling that is hard to describe but magical to experience.
Yes, Mardi Gras is magical. But real talk, it can also be exhausting. More than ever, I turn to my tools & practices to keep some kind of balance so that I can truly enjoy the moments I’m in.
This will be my 21st Mardi Gras. I’ve experienced so many versions of it. There are moments of pure bliss, where you feel connected to everything and everyone. And there’s stress. Pushing yourself beyond your limits. Stuff that comes up to be faced. I often end up feeling very emotionally raw and usually have some kind of breakdown before it’s over. There’s a sweet release available on the other side of that and all it of- the good & the bad- are opportunities for spiritual practice and growth, but as I grow older, my body no longer tolerates certain behaviors and I strive for more emotional stability. I’m grateful for the tools & practices I’ve learned along the way.
That’s why I put together my “Mardi Gras Essentials” bundle. It’s full of aromatherapy tools to help with emotional regulation and physical care during the height of the season.
My personal goal is to take care of myself so that I can be truly present in the moments I choose to engage in. I look at photos from Mardi Gras past (check out the video montage I put together here!) and I see the smiles and I remember the fun. I don’t get enough fun in my regular life these days so I relish this time outside of normal time. Balance helps me to enjoy it without burning out.
Here are some of the things I’m doing to keep balanced this Mardi Gras:
- Being selective: Choose activities that I really love, skip the rest. It’s very easy to experience FOMO or try to do everything, but there are just more activity options than there is time. Plus, moving from one area of town to another can be challenging. This year, I identified the top things I want to do and I’m letting go of some others.
- Building in rest periods. I can no longer go non-stop. If I go to a night parade, I’m making sure I can take the next morning off. If I spend all day at another parade, I’m not going out again that night.
- Sleeping: Nor can I get by on too little sleep. I love my sleep. If I need help winding down after a wild night, I use my “Drift Away” Peaceful Sleep Spray, misting some on my pillow and face before bed.
- Nourishing myself with food my body loves! There are so many treats available this time of year (king cake galore) and while I definitely indulge in them, I can’t do that for every meal. I try to make sure I’m still eating healthy food for most of my meals.
- Food prep: To that end, I need to have easy-to-eat food already prepared so that I’m less tempted to eat stuff that will make my body feel bad. I also carry filling snacks with me while I’m out & about.
- Tending to my body: I have chronic, mild-moderate back pain and I absolutely have to keep up with my exercises or I suffer. So even though the pace gets hectic during Mardi Gras, I’m stretching every day and getting my gym visits in a few days a week. I’m also using my Achy Massage Oil regularly.
- Tending to my emotional & spiritual wellbeing: I’m keeping up with my daily practices of journaling in the morning and checking in with how I’m feeling. When stuff comes up, I’m processing it by naming the feeling and being honest about what underlies it. I’m making time for a least a few minutes of meditation before I start my day. I love using my meditation oil to ground and center during these practices, and then throughout the day as needed. My calming, uplifting, and invigorating inhalers are also handy to have while out & about for a dose of aromatherapy to come back into my body & the present moment.
Here are some of things I’m NOT doing:
- Worrying about keeping my house clean! There will be glitter and exploded costume parts everywhere. I accept this. I’ll clean up when it’s over.
- Costumes: This might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t have the time & energy to make a costume for every single event. I feel like this trend has increased over the years since Hurricane Katrina but I won’t rant about that here 🙂 I’m picking one or two events to costume for and I’m keeping it much simpler than I have in the past. (Last year, I dressed as a literal tree and carried a gigantic structure on my shoulders all day. It was a blast but my back was very mad at me!)
- Trying to keep up with all of my normal routines– self-care or otherwise. I’m focusing on the most basic, foundational ones (like what’s necessary to keep my body feeling good) and letting go of the rest. I release that guilt and know I’ll pick them back up on the other side of Carnival.
- Non-Mardi Gras related work: As I mentioned, everything locally shuts down. If you’re not in the service industry, you likely have off work. I run my own business, so I could technically keep working everyday, but I set a deadline to finish what I can and I’ll get to the rest after Tuesday!
What do you do to stay balanced during Mardi Gras or other busy, high activity times? Is that something that’s important to you or do you just embrace the madness while it’s happening?