Valerie Ho and Coco Chan of OMSA World Tell Us How to Stay Well When the Holidays Set In

The most wonderful time of the year is nearly here! And, as much as we’re looking forward to the festivities, amid the holiday season, it can be easy to lose track of our wellness goals and veer to the wrong side of the mental health curve.

We don’t want that for you, however. We want you to be merry and still feel the joy even once the presents are unwrapped and the work emails start trickling in. To keep you on the right track, we talked to Coco Chan and Valerie Ho, the founders of OMSA – an e-commerce and lifestyle portal for those seeking inner wellness.

Here, Coco and Valerie tell us all about how to stay well over the holidays, including how to deal with pesky relatives.

Valerie Ho (L) and Coco Chan (R)

A lot of people see the holidays as a time to indulge – whether that’s on food and drink or gifts or a bit too much of everything. What are some good methods for staving off our Christmas gluttony and staying well?

Coco Chan: Self-love comes in many forms and treating yourself during that special time of year is good for the soul! I always say everything in moderation. Setting a healthy boundary before heading into the holiday season is a great way to avoid overindulgence. Ask yourself, what’s a healthy amount of dinner parties to commit to? How can I prioritise my physical and mental health during the holiday season? By asking yourself these questions, you are able to set strong boundaries to get you through the holiday season.

Valerie Ho: Wellness doesn’t have to be fun-free! But the more balanced and centred you are, the less likely you will likely to go overboard with the indulging and feel regretful afterwards.

Chakra balancing is a way to enhance wellbeing and balance in your physical body and mental state. At OMSA, we have a number of tools that can help with that, including crystals, herbs, and sprays.

An image that comes to mind is the mandarin dolls called bu dao weng with the weight round bottom. If you tip it over, it will right itself due to the weight in the doll, finding its own way back to the centre and smiling the whole time. That’s your spirit animal over the holidays – the bu dao weng!

What if it’s a bit too late for us? We’ve decided to imbibe knowing that we’re going to feel awful in the days after the holidays, how do we get back on track?

C: We have a lot on our plate as high-performance city dwellers, so it’s OK to cross our boundaries sometimes. We should give ourselves a break and not beat ourselves up about it. The important notion is that you are aware that you went a bit far this time around, so take it easy in the days to come. Engage in healthy feel-good activities to balance it out.


V: If holidays are not about letting loose and enjoying ourselves a bit, I don’t know what is. It’s okay to have an extra helping of dessert or stuffing; I say go for it! A little indulgence goes a long way but knowing that this is a special occasion and not a regular habit helps me feel less guilty. After a big meal, go for a long stroll or head out to shop and stay on your feet. I find tracking my fitness on an app or through my phone is a great way to work off those extra calories!

Read also: Power Trip: 5 fitness apps for staying fit on the road

What about all those expensive, high-stress family traditions? Do we have to boot them to stay well?

C: It’s true what they say, you can’t choose family. You know your family best so notice what triggers you during this intimate holiday season. Set your boundaries before the family traditions kick-off to stay in a calm, cool and collected headspace. Have that aunt that gets on your nerve? There are ways to cope.

  1. Go in with zero expectations
  2. Make sure you’re in a group setting and never one on one so you get the support of other family members.
  3. Shift your mindset and don’t take anything personally
  4. Laugh about it, it’s the holidays after all.

V: Also, it is important to watch your mindset. Dreading the holidays with extended family will make everything worse as you are already in a negative state. Your body language gives you away, even without having to say a word!

All easier said than done, though, right? Mindset shifts take practice, but there is no better time to start than now. We have an article about how to kickstart a gratitude challenge that can keep you sane during the holiday period and focus on the good stuff.

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We’re counting the days to Thanksgiving! And dreaming of that herby stuffing with creamy mash already… Aside from which holiday dishes we’ll be devouring first, we’ve also been thinking about the real meaning of giving gratitude. More than just saying the words ‘thank you’, giving gratitude is a powerful practice which can increase positive thinking, happiness, as well as overall wellbeing and happiness. For tips for inviting more gratitude into your life check out our newest blog post in our link in bio. What does gratitude mean to you? Take part in our #GratitudeChallenge and tag a person in the comments below you’d like to express your thanks to. Think about the people who have been there unconditionally and who you don’t share your thanks with enough. Start with your own daily gratitude practice, and see if you notice a difference. Gratitude shifts us into a higher frequency, so share yours!

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Can we use wellness as a reason to not see all those relatives that ask a few too many prying questions about marriage and kids, etc.?

C: In severe cases, it’s ok to make the decision to not see a certain relative, but it may be difficult if it’s in a group setting. If you know, there’s a family gathering that your ‘special’ relative will be attending prepare for it! Follow the steps 1-4 from above or reach out to them privately and tell them how it makes you feel when they ask too many prying questions. You’ll find that sometimes they aren’t even aware of how they’re making you feel by asking those questions.

V: Opting out is not typically an option for me in family gatherings, but I do make extra time for myself during extended “togetherness” time. It is okay to step out for some me-time, either to engage in exercise or self-care. Stealing away for a few hours can allow you to gather time to attend to yourself, re-set your attitude, and choose to engage with relatives in the way you want to rather than simply reacting to their judgements and opinions.

What do your holiday survival guides look like?

Palo Santo

C: As a new parent, setting boundaries with friends and family is key for me! I grew up in a big family, so I love family get-togethers. However, because I have a big family, there are always multiple outings so I make sure to span them out to allow quality time with my little girl and husband so we can start our own new holiday traditions as a new family of 3.

V: For tips on how to develop a positive (well, at least neutral) mindset before engaging in a lot of “togetherness” activities, try the following:

  1. Cleanse: Use Palo Santo or Sage to cleanse the space before your family and friends arrive to clear lingering energy and create a fresh slate for balance and harmony.
  2. Set the scene: Set the energetic frequency for more heart opening, compassion and gratitude with Courtney + Babes Lover Diffuser Oil with the festive scent of fresh fig.
  3. Crystal centrepiece: Raise the vibration of your festive centrepiece this year with a crystal grid that opens channels of love, empathy and protection. Check out our crystal grid starter guide here.
  4. Gratitude sharing: Remind your guests of what the festive season is all about with personal gratitude sharings before you dig into food – a small prayer of thanks everyone can participate in.
  5. Breathe: It sounds like a no-brainer, but we can forget to take deep breaths when caught up in the whirlwind of organising. Take ten minutes of deep breathing to remind yourself of your intention for sharing love and gratitude to those around you.

Read also: Healing Balinese Therapies to Prep You for the New Year (Burping May be Required)

On the other side of the holidays, a popular New Year’s Resolution is to get well. What products or methods do you suggest for people who need a bit of help with getting their wellness started?

C: It’s easy to feel de-motivated after the holiday season, so I suggest introducing essential oils into your wellness routine for the new year. 80% of what we smell directly affects our mood. Pick up a refreshing citrus scent to boost your new year motivation and kick start your 2020 wellness practice!

Species By A Thousand

V: To help you a little on the ‘New Decade, New You’ project, I suggest a) herbs to cleanse your space to help you get rid of stagnant energy and negative juju, as you turn over a new chapter. To raise your vibrations, check out our crystal collections on OMSA, where we drop new products every month, so you are bound to find something that resonates with you. For beginners, these optimism and courage kits that are very popular.

The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report came out in October. What trends are you most excited about and anything you’re a bit wary of?

C: As a new mom, I’m fascinated with the new ‘sleep wellness’ trend. Understanding the science behind sleep optimisation can come in handy with a new addition to the family. Think of all the sleep training and jetlag hacks I would have up my sleeves!

I’m a beach/pool/waterfall kind of gal, so I’m not as excited about the “urban wellness resorts” trend. I live in an urban concrete jungle so if I need a break to decompress I prefer getting out of the city’s hustle and bustle to retreat into nature.

Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

V: I’m very excited about the rising prioritisation of wellness, particularly in traditional industries. Corporate well being has been experiencing exponential growth, and I am looking forward to seeing more well-being programmes and spaces being offered to corporate employees as an integral part of their workspace and time spent at the office.

Growing mental health awareness is also something I am passionate about. Mental health stigma has come down a lot in recent years due to more vocal advocacy; people are more willing to talk openly and candidly about their personal struggles with mental health. I see that as a growing and exciting new trend that brings holistic well-being to a new level.

You’re both in Hong Kong. What are simple things can city folk, with limited access to nature, do to increase their overall wellness?

C: BREATHE. Did you know that many people aren’t breathing ‘correctly’ anymore? Most people aren’t aware that they’re breathing light, short breaths from their chest. What we want to do is bring our awareness to our breath and start doing more deep belly breaths. Deep belly breathing comes with heaps of benefits: improves circulation, increases energy levels, detoxifies the body and reduces inflammation.

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

V: Bring nature inside. Put plants and crystals in your home and office where you can. And despite HK’s reputation as a concrete jungle, nature is surprisingly accessible here. Parks, gardens, and beaches are all within an hour of city central.

Read also: Digital Detox: Why You Need One, Beyond Just Proper Sleep – Updated 2019

Where are you most likely to travel to in order to decompress and destress?

C: Hands down, BALI! My husband and I have developed a strong, loving bond with Bali over the years. We have plenty of beautiful memories there – we love the versatility of Bali. There’s so much to do for every type of traveller – cooking, water sports, spas, wellness centres, beach life, foodie adventures, cultural destinations and more! Bali holds a special place in our hearts as our little girl was made with love there on our honeymoon.

V: Japan is my favourite place for a short, relaxing holiday. With globalisation advances, I find myself less drawn to city escapes and look forward to a more relaxing pace for vacation. Kyoto is the perfect combination of the city (with Osaka nearby), culture, food, and nature. Not too far from Kyoto is Naoshima and surrounding islands, which is my favourite getaway to relax and recharge with world-class art nestled amongst nature.

How are you staying well this holiday season?

Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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