Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Eat, Sleep, Self-Care, Repeat:
Easy tips to help ensure your holiday season is more silly and less stress.
1. Get Moving
Exercise can be a critical part of your self care routine, especially during the holidays. It has been proven to reduce stress, help enhance your mood, aid in digestion, and fights fatigue and depression.
Some of the most beneficial types of exercise are cardio (e.g., running or biking), resistance training (e.g., using bands or weights), high intensity interval training (e.g., bursts of intense exercise followed by short periods or rest), hiking, or yoga.
2. Get Eating & Drinking
The holidays are a time for love, family, and (of course) food!
Enjoy what you eat. Try not to dwell on calories or carbs and take the idea of "good days" and "bad days" of eating out of your vocabulary. Balance your sweets or treats with healthy, body nurturing food (lean protein and veggies).
Pay attention to your feelings, allow yourself the time and space to feel your emotions. You will be less likely to overindulge in food or alcohol due to stress, grief, happiness...
Alternate alcoholic beverages with plain or sparkling water. Concerned about the calories? Try to stick with dry white wine (e.g., pinot grigio, sauv blanc), red wine (e.g., pinot noir or cabernet) or clear alcohol mixed with soda water. BUT it is the holidays, and a pandemic holiday at that, have your eggnog, cocktail, beer, or whiskey if it makes you happy...pair it with a Christmas cookie.
Make sure to get plenty of water.
3. Catch some z's
Sleep and rest are crucial to maintain our brain and body function and we need more sleep in cold weather than in the warmer months. Try to schedule in some extra rest or make sure you are getting a good night's sleep to keep your moods and energy levels in check.
Take a nap! Keep your daytime snoozes less than an hour if you can and try to avoid napping in the late afternoon.
Skip that afternoon coffee. If you are feeling particularly sluggish, some light or moderate afternoon exercise can help elevate your energy levels for several hours and then allow your body to settle into relaxation later in the evening (without the caffeine crash).
Allow yourself to rest without guilt, it could be just what your body (and mind) needs.
4. Practice some gratitude
Try to replace feelings or thoughts of guilt with things you are grateful for. For example, if you start to feel guilty for taking a nap or not making it to the gym, take a moment to think about your cozy couch or your capable body.
Give yourself a gift this holiday season, whatever it may be. Perhaps you want a dinner alone at your favorite restaurant, or those pair of shoes you have been eyeing...practice the gift of giving with yourself this season.
5. Practice being present
As humans we have the tendency to live in the past or look forward to the future, we rarely spend time appreciating the here and now. The holidays are a great time to practice awareness, and activate those senses.
Take a moment to really enjoy all of the holiday senses:
Look around at the sights (the snow, the decorations, the cold night air)
Take notice of the smells (baking, candles, trees)
Listen to the sounds of the holidays (the winter wind, the songs you hate to love, the laughter).
Feel the holidays (the cold morning air, the warmth of the fire on your face)
Taste the season (the treats, yummy food, strong coffee)
Anytime you are feeling disengaged or caught up in regrets or worries, take time to notice what is around you.
6. Maintain those boundaries
It is okay to say "no" even during the holidays. Yes, family and time spent with loved ones is important, but so is caring for your individual health and wellbeing. Do not be afraid to opt out of a party or a family dinner if going will be more work than fun.
Schedule in some time for yourself, perhaps just to be alone or even to do something that will help you rest and recharge.
Take time to feel your emotions. Give yourself some space to acknowledge those uncomfortable feelings and allow yourself to experience them, either in private or with a friend or family member. The holidays can be especially challenging and its okay to experience feelings around anger, grief, sadness, anxiety, fear, or loss. Allowing the space for expressing your feelings will reduce the chance that they may impact you negatively during the holidays (say over a turkey dinner).
7. Set realistic goals for yourself and others
You are doing the best that you can and it is more than enough.
Now do some exercise, have some wine, eat those cookies and head to bed. Happy Holidays.