(With loads of energy, no illnesses and joy!)
Do you get excited for the holidays but also dread the stress, fatigue and illnesses that often accompany the upcoming season? You are NOT alone! So often we start off all bright and cheery, hopeful and excited and by the time mid December comes, we are stressed, worn out, bloated and just drained. No wonder we roll into each new year feeling like we need a detox, a diet, sleep for days and a fresh start! Sound familiar?
How do we protect ourselves so that we can gracefully and joyfully glide through the holidays, taking in all of the splendor, untouched by what I call the “holiday slide” (that officially starts on Halloween) and come out on the other side with our hearts full and energy high?
This can be done at any time but it’s especially helpful around the holidays. We remind ourselves of the purpose of each gathering and holiday before it’s upon us. That is as unique as we are human. When we have that in the forefront of our minds, our decisions become easier. The non-essentials are easier to weed out.
Just Say NO
Practice saying NO to things that do not bring joy and YES to those that do. For some, this is a lifelong lesson to learn. Here are a couple examples that ALWAYS come up!
- Parties – You love the person inviting you but you know the friends they hang with are not your speed/style. It’s OK to decline without making up excuses or lying. A simple “Thank you, but I won’t be able to make it this year. Maybe next.” Is sufficient. Or, perhaps you are getting party burnout and feel obligated to “make an appearance.” If you must, show up but then promise yourself to leave after a certain amount of time.
- Secret/Dirty Santa – if you LOVE this, join in! If you don’t, or you aren’t feeling especially abundant with money at the moment it’s more than OK to opt out. After all, do you really need another coffee mug adorned with a goofy quote, smelly candle, oversized ornament that doesn’t fit your tree decor, decorative post-it’s, sausage and cheese kit, or a Starbucks gift card? (Well, in my case, YES to the Starbucks, but you’re getting the picture!) Not only is it one less thing to run out and purchase and wrap but then you’re not coming home with loads of useless crap you don’t have a use, desire or place for that you would then end up regifting or donating anyway. Come on, you know you do that. We all do.
Traveling with Grace
For many of us, the holidays include traveling. This can’t be avoided if we want to gather with friends and families we don’t often see. Zoom holidays the past 2 years fulfilled some needs but there’s nothing like a face to face toast or a bear hug from someone you love. Consider making travel arrangements that don’t include red-eye flights or more than 16 hours a day of driving so that when you arrive at your destination and return home, you don’t spend another whole day recuperating just from travel. Traveling has a lot of pockets of downtime too even if you are driving. Make the travel part of the experience. Download podcasts that lift you up, organize and delete photos on your phone, bring a journal or sketch pad. When you must travel, plan ahead for snacks. Be sure to bring plenty of water, avoid sugar, excess caffeine and alcohol that will leave you even more drained. Pack healthy “green” and “yellow” light foods that will nourish AND give you stamina. Trail mix, apples, and protein balls from the super versatile plant based protein shake mix, Complete, is one of my favorite travel foods. Not only can you make protein balls for traveling, you can make a smoothie bowl or quick shake in the morning if you get up before everyone else and before decadent, carb heavy breakfasts pull you wayside first thing in the day. You can get yours here – Complete Shakes Or, if you don’t have the time to make anything like protein balls, (honestly, that is usually me!) my most favorite “energy” bars are the plant based protein Complete bars; real food ingredients (no isolated soy or whey) that keep me going. Try them! Complete Bars I get actual food into my body, fast, that isn’t hyper processed so I feel fueled, satisfied and not drained.
Giving gifts can be especially beautiful and fulfilling when time is spent thoughtfully purchasing or making something from the heart. A framed picture of a wonderful experience together or a letter telling them why you’re grateful you are friends, coworkers or related will hold value for years and have an impact beyond the holiday. Homemade fudge, cookies, soups or hot chocolate mixes are some of my favorite gifts to get and give. (p.s. you can even make a “healthy” fudge or delicious hot chocolate from the Complete! And yes, around the holidays, I’d probably counter that healthiness with a few mini-marshmallows. 😮😉 It’s all about balance and moderation!)
And while we technically cannot “boost” the immune system without throwing other things out of whack, we can most certainly support it or deplete it quickly. Support comes from staying hydrated, making strong food choices the majority of the time, eating enough of the good stuff, and getting sleep. Lack of sleep, sugar and stress are sure ways to nearly instantaneously drain that immune system tank.
- HYDRATE! I cannot say enough about drinking plenty of water. Being hydrated will reduce your chance of headaches, brain fog, and keep everything moving out like it’s supposed to. Yes, I mean poop. 😉 When temperatures drop, people tend to drink less water, but our bodies still need plenty. We need 1/2 our body weight in ounces every day, more if we work out, are super active or are pregnant. We also need more water when we are consuming foods high in sugar and salt, which as we know it’s pretty much every holiday food presented!
- Eat your fruits and vegetables! Sure they aren’t usually the most exciting at holiday events of cookies, fondue, exotic dips, and such when often uninspired hosts still offer the raw carrots, celery and dip, but you can have a carrot or two and then you’ve successfully had your “raw and fresh” for the meal! Also, if you eat something like this early, you’re less likely to load up on other treats and even if you do, you won’t feel nearly as guilty! Fruits and vegetables are the essential nutrients (micro nutrients) that are like fertilizer to your cells. They aren’t so much the fuel but rather the oil that keeps our engines running smoothly. On a good day we need 7 to 13 servings of a wide variety of colors. This is not only challenging to do in general, but during the holidays, it’s even more challenging. To say I rely on my concentrated fruit, vegetable and berry powders in a capsule at this time of year is a huge understatement. In fact, I often double up. We are inside more often without as much sunshine and fresh air, on the go, people coughing and sneezing on us, I’m not always making the best food or beverage choices and I just need that extra support. I also love these so much that I enjoy sharing this info and selling these to whomever is in need of bridging the gap between what they eat and what they need to eat. Your kids or grandkids can get it free too! I’d love to get you started ➡️ https://sexton.juiceplus.com/us/en
- Eat enough! So this may seem like an oxymoron when I’m talking about all of the excess foods over the holidays but it’s not just the quantity, it’s the quantity of the quality. You know how we feel when we run out the door after just a cup of coffee thinking we’re only going to take care of one errand and then suddenly it turns into multiples and before we know it, it’s 1 PM and we haven’t eaten! Fueling up with our macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) from whole food sources it’s super important! These macronutrients are the gasoline that keep us running ! If racing around half empty trying to get “just one more thing done“ sounds like you, keep a good protein bar on hand, some mixed nuts with a few of my favorite, Enjoy Life chocolate chips thrown in, or even a simple crisp apple! If we plan our meals and even our snacks when we’re on the go, we’re less likely to grab fast food or something unhealthy when we are about ready to eat the steering wheel.
- SLEEP! – I know, saying get sleep is kind of obvious but I’m going to say it anyway. Get more sleep! While sugar depletes our immune system almost instantly, sleep supports it just as quickly, especially when done on a consistent basis. Our bodies need this time to repair and reset. I truly feel that when we have less daylight, our bodies are supposed to need more sleep and yet, most of us do not shift our bedtime routines. Try going to bed a few minutes earlier every night for a week or two and you will fit in an extra 30 minutes. Notice how you feel the next day. Personally, this is where I struggle the most. I will replace being on my phone or computer, watching Netflix or TV with reading, writing in my journal or some restorative yoga poses. I LOVE yoga for a mental, physical and energetic reset. Connie Yoga has a variety of options depending on your abilities and time. Chair yoga is especially helpful when you need a break at work but can’t leave.
Take some time out each day. I know if you have kids and you are reading this you’re probably laughing out loud. We all find ourselves with schedules more full than we planned or sometimes we plan with no downtime. Taking 5 to 10 minutes each day either in the morning and at the end of the day to reflect, take intentional breaths, sit with gratitude in our hearts, to just BE is essential for our well-being. Yet how often do we intend to do it yet we don’t prioritize and schedule it? Even if we have to find space in the closet, bathroom or in our car, that stillness still counts! Moms and dads, you KNOW what I am talking about! One of my favorite ways to take a time out and also get some fresh air and exercise is to go for a walk. Try walking without a pet, without being on your phone, without listening to music; just taking in the world around you, noticing your breathing, noticing the trees, noticing your breath. We spend so much time being plugged in and on call for children, spouses, friends, and aging parents that when we shut down like this, we feel more rejuvenated than if we had taken a nap. (Although sometimes, a nap is just what you need too, so do that if you can.) However you choose to take time, do it with integrity and don’t allow the distraction of the phone, music or a podcast to dilute the experience.
By implementing even a few of the suggestions above, it can be the difference between showing up fully, feeling great with lots of energy for the holiday beauty or missing out sick in bed (or something in between.) We get this ONE life. Why not live it at our healthiest and experience the most joy we can?