It's a marathon, not a sprint. This is what I've been telling myself since October, going into Thanksgiving and now through the rest of the holiday madness. It's become a mantra because I know myself and my body and if I don't find my pace I will not make it. Wait, I take that back, I'll make it, it just won't be pretty. If I'm not careful come New Years I'll be an exhausted shell of myself... and by shell I mean more like the puffy taco kind because I'll be all swollen.
It's funny, you know, I adopted these healthy holiday habits (and life habits) part out of necessity to help me better manage an autoimmune condition. Turns out they come with some pretty sweet side effects too, like sleeping better, thinking more clearly, feeling less stressed out, and being happier. All things that are really helpful in getting through the holidays.
What I've come to realize is when I can maintain my sleep, stress, happiness, energy - I'm able to do so much more, and be so much more.
It requires some effort and consistency, but I can tell you it's so worth it.
Sometimes I wonder, because I changed a lot in my diet and lifestyle because of autoimmunity. I wonder if I never had to change anything, would I have figured some of this out? Would I feel as good overall as I do today?
It's weird to think you could be grateful for something as terrible as getting sick with an autoimmune disease. But if you catch me on a good day, I might say so. Weird as that may sound.
Today I want to tell you about some of the healthy holiday tips I follow to maintain my health and sanity this time of year in hopes they might help you too.
After you go through them, I'd love to hear what you do to help keep you on track and make the most out of this time of year. Share them in the comments with us, will you?
OK, here goes....
My Healthy Holiday Tips
Party hard, self care harder.
There's so much going on this time of year. It feels like our social schedule is packed to the brim, which is so much fun and I love it, but I know I've gotta maximize my down time so I can maintain my energy and do all the things. So that means in between the parties and activities finding time just for me.
Self care is always important in my book, but this time of year it's everything. At the holidays we spend so much more time "on" I need that extra effort to recharge. So I make sure I get in the things that relax me the most, like my fav: a nice long epsom salt bath with some lavender essential oils (see favorites). For you it could be something else - just think, what is it that really makes you slow down and relax? It could be something like starting a book (non-work or parenting related) long before bed, stretching, getting in your favorite workout, painting or doing a coloring book, meditating, etc. Put extra emphasis on the ones that help you sleep, too, because that's when the real recharging happens.
Hang on to some habits.
I know, I know, that's what January's for, but holding onto habits and some sort of routine grounds me and makes all the difference to keep me at least somewhat on track... even if there are times when I'm not. These are sort of like non-negotiables that you keep up with through the holiday busy-ness. For me it's having my hot lemon water every morning to start my day, getting dark leafy greens into at least two of my meals, meal prepping so I have healthy food at the ready, always having water nearby, moving my body somehow even if it's just walking my kids to school, and taking an epsom salt bath a couple times a week.
When I do these things on the reg it's like they snap me back to reality and help me feel more energized, grounded, productive... kinda like just more on top of life.
Take short cuts.
This year I'm taking full advantage of all the little things and extras to make life easier, like shopping online, buying the already-made muffins, ordering the address labeling, etc. Then during that time in the evenings when I would have been addressing Christmas cards, maybe I'll take a bath (see No. 1 above).
Go for the good stuff.
What I'm basically saying is, be a food snob. I mean, don't be rude about it, but be picky with your palette. There's sweets and drinks and all the rich food everywhere right now. It's hard not to go nuts with it all. So the way I like to approach it that feels good for me is to choose where I'm going to indulge and make it worth it. I mean, I'm not going to waste my piece of cake on a fruit cake. If I'm gonna eat cake it's gonna be darn good cake! Same goes for everything else. I try to set the bar high and keep it that way. This prevents me from mindlessly grabbing a cookie that's just so-so and saving the splurge for something that's really worth it in my book... like these chocolate chip cookies, and wine.
End the day with gratitude.
Gratitude multiplies happiness. I really believe this to be true, especially at the holidays. And it's even been scientifically proven. One study showed that people who write down what their grateful for are happier, and healthier.
I started making gratitude more of an "official" practice awhile back and began writing down in my planner at least three "gratitudes" at the end of each day. I do this shortly before bed as I'm writing down priorities for the next day. And I can say it does shift me into a more relaxed and contented mood right before bed. I also think it trains my brain to focus on the positive rather than the alternative, which can only help in dealing with the stresses of the holidays.
What are your healthy holiday tips?
I'd love to hear what helps you stay on track and make the most out of this time of year. Share them in the comments with us, will you?
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.