Right now, we are somewhere between PUMPKIN OVERLOAD and PEPPERMINT EVERYTHING. Your calendar is likely filling up with holiday celebrations, commitments and “To-Do” lists. The winter holidays are a festive time, but can also be a time of increased stress for many people. Between the juggling of adjusted schedules, travel, gatherings, shopping and all the food temptations….it can be a trying time.
Here are a few simple daily reminders (and a few apps) that can help you fly into New Year’s Day feeling like the freakin’ Superhero that you are.
1. Hydrate – In busy times and in cooler weather we forget our old friend, water. Staying hydrated by sipping water throughout the day helps all our vital organs to function at their best, making us feel more energetic and alert. Hydration also helps keep cortisol levels lower which can alleviate stress. Lastly, we often confuse thirst for hunger so staying hydrated can also help stave off some hunger cravings.
TIPS: Start your day by drinking a few ounces of water – maybe even add a splash of lemon. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and take a few sips every hour. Have a glass of water in between servings of caffeinated or alcohol beverages (both caffeine and alcohol are dehydrators).
2. Sleep AND Rest – Our bodies need time to recover and reset each day. If you are out of your normal routine or traveling, sleep may be challenging. Although sleep and rest are different things, our bodies need both to remain healthy. A little extra rest time during the day by sitting or lying down to rest the body and mind can help your body recover in short times of missed sleep. You might even consider treating yourself to a nap. Being restored and rested can help you feel your best and handle the stresses of the holidays with much greater ease.
TIPS: Use a free app like the Calm app, Insight Timer or Headspace to help you go to sleep or to have a few minutes of quiet time during your day. Remember to breathe – a few deep belly breaths. Take a warm bath before bed (add lavender essential oils and Epsom salt for a bonus). Try to avoid electronics 2-3 hours before bedtime. Spritz a bit of lavender essential oils on your bedding.
3. Movement– I know, first I said you need to rest and now I say you need to move. Yep, we need both in our day. If you have a regular workout routine it can be challenging to keep it up during the holidays, so you might have to be a bit creative to keep some movement in your day. Just 20-30 minutes of walking or light exercise can increase your immune system, increase endorphins, improve mood and reduce anxiety, help with digestion, limit the effects of stress, and improve sleep. *Bonus – enjoying time in nature increases the effects that movement has in all these areas. Try spending a few minutes per day outside, if the weather allows.
TIPS: Instead of meeting up with a friend for a meal or drink, invite them for a walk or an activity. Take a walk after meals to help ease digestion. Download an exercise app on your phone and spend 5-7 minutes doing yoga or a resistance workout and follow it up with a 20-30 min walk/jog.
4. Eating - The kinds of food we eat as well as the amounts can have a great effect on how we feel both physical and emotionally. There are so many temptations around food this time of year. Eating intentionally or mindfully can allow us to enjoy the foods we love without over doing it. If you have dietary guidelines it can be particularly challenging to stick with it or to explain to others why you aren’t eating a particular food. Planning ahead and creating a food budget can be helpful. Make decisions ahead of time about what foods you will eat and what substitutions you can make can also be helpful.
TIPS: Decide ahead of time which foods and the amounts you will eat. If you have specific dietary needs, travel with snacks and take a food that you can eat to the party. To avoid overeating: stay hydrated (see tip #1), get some movement (see tip #3). Allow yourself to eat your favorites first. Slow down when you are eating, avoid standing up to eat or eating on the run. Eat a rainbow of (natural) colors throughout your day….and no, red and green icing does not count.
5. Be Kind…..to Yourself – The above are merely suggestions. If you intend to follow these ideas and things don’t go as planned, go gentle on yourself and start again the next day. None of us are perfect, as a matter of fact, perfect doesn’t even exist (yea, I have a tough time with that one too). One of the best things you can do this holiday season, actually every day, is to be kind to yourself and allow for quality time with those who bring you joy. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate this season, each one of them from Thanksgiving to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah to Christmas, Boxing Day, Festivus and New Year's Day, each bring a message of kindness, appreciation and joy.
TIPS: Put aside the worry about the food, the decorations, and the house being spotless. Instead give yourself permission to have fun, laugh and be present in each moment, because these are some of the greatest stress reducers of all.
Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give your loved ones this holiday season.