With major holidays on the horizon it is ever more important to prioritize self care. It is even more important for those who are gathering in larger groups for the first time in a long time. Having been through 2020 and 2021 with so much social distancing and mask wearing our immune systems and microbiomes can be a bit lacking, meaning we can be more susceptible to germs. Thankfully there are things we can do to support our health. Holidays are usually known for their hustle and bustle, but they don’t have to be that way. You can consciously plan how the holidays are for you
1. Savor Sleep – Make sleep a priority throughout the holidays and carry it with you afterwards, it will pay off in so many ways. Our bodies do so much while we sleep. It is critical we get enough quality sleep for rest and rejuvenation. Make sure to turn screens off at least an hour or two before bed. Sleep in a darkened room, ideally where you can barely make out your own hand in front of your face. Sleep masks come in handy, if there is too much light. Keep your sleeping area cool and aim to be in bed before 10:00 PM. If traveling, bring your own pillow if possible.
2. Stay Active – With quality sleep, movement during the day is key. Find movement practices that work for you and fit into your day. It could be anything from daily walks, yoga, using fitness apps. (Tone It Up, Obe, etc.) Go to the gym, rec. center, park, etc. or workout in your home with what you have. Take a bike ride if weather allows. Healthy movement not only helps on a physical level, but it can help on a mental health level. Plus moving daily helps your lymph move, which is great for your immune system. Whatever activity you choose, make sure you enjoy it, that will help you stick to it. If you are traveling, plan ahead. Create a playlist of your favorite workout videos or map out places to walk or gyms to visit while you are away.
3. Eat Whole Foods – There are plenty of whole food choices when it comes to holiday food. You can also make sure that there are healthy options when you bring them to gatherings or cook them yourself. Choose healthier versions of classic holiday fair, by swapping out gluten for gluten free and nixing the dairy. Bake gluten free and dairy free cookies for a sweet treat. Avoid sugar as much as possible. Sugar can wreck havoc on our bodies and immune systems. Make sure each meal has a good source of protein, fat and fiber.
4. Stay Hydrated – One of the best ways to make sure you are staying hydrated is to carry a reusable water bottle with you. If you struggle with drinking plain water, add fruit for a flavor boost. Add a spoonful of chia seeds for a little bit of protein and gut soothing. Hydration comes in other forms too. Think about the water content of the foods you are eating, soups, fruits, etc. that have high water content will add to your daily intake. The suggested intake for water is ½ your body weight in ounces per day.
5. Focus On Connection – Perhaps this is the right time for a social media break? Storing your phone and other electronic devices away, can greatly help you focus on the moment. Living in the moment with our families is what the season is really all about. Feeling that gratitude of being with those you love is wonderful and can be a boost for our mental health. Connecting with friends and family this time if year can create special memories for years to come. Try playing board games or other games that can include everyone, just be prepared to see who is really competitive. (Most of my family is very competitive, so any game is highly engaging and entertaining.) Taking the time to really focus on our connections can refuel us in more ways than we can think. If you happen to be an introvert or have social anxiety at all, plan ahead. Give yourself grace and breathing room to recover from social situations. Do not feel guilty for guarding your mental health by saying no to something you don’t want to do.
Whether you are are staying home or traveling, whether your holiday plans include large or small gatherings, prioritizing self care will set you up for a fantastic holiday season. Each of the suggestions listed here can be carried with you well beyond the holiday season. They are fantastic habits to have in place for holistic wellness. Share any tips you have for thriving through the holidays in the comments!