TIPS FOR A JOYFUL, HEALTHY HOLIDAY
I don't know about you, but I sure have felt the season come on fast and strong! I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner. I truly do feel like I have savored this season, but at the same time it has indeed felt busy. I've noticed over the years that I have to get very selective with how I spend my time-- otherwise this time of the year can truly be stressful!
I'm no psychologist, but science tells us that reducing stress and finding JOY -- is critical for our health. Here is an Rx for you: find what gives you JOY and focus on that the next two weeks (and well daily;). Because when our brains are experiencing positive emotions -- it takes over that space where the negative emotions will live.
And negative emotions and stress are known disrupters of health. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body's processes.
So friends, let's not engage in thoughts or commitments that stress us out! That is a giant step towards living into your whole health. For example, think of something that stresses you out about the holidays. How can you adjust that? Or remove it? Or improve it? Or maybe it's just something specific to this year. For example, I wasn't on top of our Christmas cards, and I realized the situation and timing was going to add stress to my life.
And you know what? I LET IT GO! And the world kept spinning. You can decide how you live your days, how you re-direct your thoughts, how you engage with your own thoughts and with people around you! And THIS will have a huge impact on your wellness, just as much as the food you eat.
So let's get to it. I wrote the below little list for myself; maybe you can resonate with some of these tips. Some of these give me JOY, some de-stress me, some give me great energy.
MY TIPS FOR A JOYFUL, HEALTHY HOLIDAY:
Be present with loved ones. Savor the moments. It truly is a magical time of year, if we allow it to be. Magical doesn't mean perfect -- magical means special to us in our own ways. Whatever makes this time of year special to you - do those things and savor them! And no need to compare to what others are doing or what their version of this season is. We all are writing our own unique, beautiful stories.
Get outside... a lot! Nature breathes life into us. Feeling overwhelmed? Go for a walk, look at Christmas lights and maybe grab your family member, friend or favorite holiday play list. Being outdoors provides free aromatherapy, boosts your immune system, lowers your blood pressure, enhances creativity and even helps mitigate pain. And that is just to name a few. Not to mention, nature is eye candy!
Hydrate well, especially in the morning. My goal is 1 L by noon, 2 L by the end of the day. I am just getting in the routine of 16 ounces before breakfast. Honestly, I am known for not drinking enough water. I am bit by bit getting better! I also recently learned that it's best for digestion to drink water in between meals and not mostly with meals. So find your favorite water bottle and fill that puppy up first thing in the morning.
Minimize sugar and savor the treats you do have. By reducing sugar, so many health benefits occur! It's not as hard as you think it is to do during the holidays. You don't need ALL the treats. Pick some real food treats that you truly enjoy -- savor and focus on those! And try only eating them when it's a treat and bringing you JOY, not just out of habit. By only indulging in treats minimally, I promise you, you will enjoy them MORE. It seems counter intuitive, but it actually works and you will FEEL better. Win win! And with minimal sugar, your immune system will be operating smoothly and your mood will stay stable (along with your blood sugars). So many wins here!
Eat hearty, nutritious meals. Honestly, the "old Meg" years past would have eaten lighter meals so to say -- so that I could eat more fudge and peanut butter balls and that big bowl of peppermint ice cream. This Meg knows better now! Let's make sure we are filling our body with nourishment -- this is the best preventative medicine to feel well, stay healthy and be energized! It's easy over the holidays to get in the snack zone (and I'm not against snacks), but our bodies truly do need a variety of nutrients to run smoothly and fight disease. By feeling well, we can enjoy the holidays even more. We all know how a yucky cold can steal the show -- so by nourishing yourself, you are helping to prevent that from hitting you during this special season and week ahead.
Move that body! My personal goal is an average of 30 minutes a day. I don't know about you, but my quick sweat sessions are SO life giving in what I like to call "the dark months". Moving my body is always life giving for me, but during the season when there is less light and outside play, it feels even more critical. The endorphins we receive from exercise -- they alleviate depression, reduce stress, boost self esteem and can also help mitigate pain. It doesn't have to be fancy. A quick jog or walk. A spin on your bike or a ski sesh. Maybe a fast trip to the gym to swim laps and sweat it out in the steam room (a personal fav). So many options to crank up those endorphins! I keep a yoga mat and weights handy at home if I don't get a chance to go outside or to the gym.
Laugh! Smiling and spreading joy is good for the soul. What are things you can do that make you smile? We are packing up some fun games for the family. Add some spice into our evenings and some silliness. Life is short and sometimes we all just need a little more laughter. And hearing the sounds of making your kids laugh? Priceless. That brings me JOY -- and joy is good for health!
What about you?
What brings you JOY?
What stresses you out?
What gives you life?
Let's focus on what we CAN DO this next week to live fully in the moment.
It's so important to take care of ourselves during the holidays, as we are all busy -- no matter the season. And if you take care of YOU -- if you find your JOY and purpose, you can serve and love others better!
Write your list or goals down (or snag a few from mine), think through ways to reduce stress... and of course find that JOY. Cheers to a healthy holiday, friends!