The holiday season – a joyous time, but one that has become potentially more stressful than I’m sure it was ever intended to be. If you’re not stressing about presents, sending cards, food shopping, prepping, cooking or where everyone is going to sit and oh god they need somewhere to sleep too, the chances are you’ll be one uncontrollable step ahead of yourself stressing about the aftermath. The tiredness, the mess, how many ways you can disguise the leftovers and how long its acceptable to keep eating them for, and on top of all that, the way you’re going to feel after days and days and days of eating.
Christmastime should be centred around spending time with friends and family, spending time laughing and letting go, and spending whatever time you have left after that recuperating, resetting and reflecting. This time of year shouldn't stress you out or make you feel anxious, it's here for you to enjoy and it's an excuse to have as much fun as possible before the New Year begins and things start to get serious again. If you could remove yourself from the world and look down on everyone running around in an uncontrollable muddle, you’d find it uncomfortable to watch and highly unnecessary, when what people should actually be doing is having the time of their lives. Below, a few ways to embrace the holiday season, a few ways to switch off and a few ways to stay healthy:
If you stick to quite specific dietary requirements / choices and are worried about keeping in practice during the holidays, do your best to create a nourishing balance that isn't too structured and that you can enjoy, rather than completely depriving yourself of the foods on the table that you wouldn't usually eat. As soon as you make any rules and decide that you're not under any circumstances allowed even a taste of something you know you want, you turn into a maniac. And when everyone else around you is enjoying the things you want, you tend to become a hot mess of hostility and frustration, unable to focus on anything other than the smell, taste and texture of the very thing you're trying to avoid. So you have that little taste you disallowed yourself and since you tasted it you now have to finish it, and since you've finished one then the damage is done and you may as well have a few more, right? When you make rules, you end up eating a lot more of what you don't really want than if you'd focussed your attention elsewhere. Think about it this way: if you drop your phone and it smashes a little, you don't continue to smash it more and more just because the damage is already done. During the holidays, if you do indulge in something you'd usually steer clear of, enjoy it but don't let it turn into some kind of binge. One way to create a balance is to ensure healthier options are in sight too. Although it is hard to interfere with traditional recipes during the holidays, be bold with offering a healthier take on some conventional dishes and get involved. You'll be able to control a few contributions, meaning, if you want to, you can bulk your plate up with these, or you can simply enjoy a bit of everything. This, my friends, is balance. When we indulge, many of us treat it as a 'now or never' kind of opportunity. But instead of eating to the point of discomfort, enjoy what you want, when you want it, and rest assured that the opportunity to indulge isn't 'now or never', but is actually 'now, or tomorrow, or the next day'. There will always be leftovers, so focus on enjoying the meal, and more importantly the company, without getting hung up on how to construct your plate.
Try to make one meal a day - preferably breakfast or an evening snack - centred completely around fresh, natural ingredients. This way you can ensure your nutrient levels are high and there are plenty of healthy enzymes present to detoxify your body, meaning you can still enjoy the standard holiday fare knowing you won't feel too terrible afterwards. Having something light like a salad or a juice between indulging should help to counter any discomfort you may experience from eating foods you're body is no longer familiar with.
Humans not handsets
During the holidays, your phone stops being a vital part of your existence, and starts being some kind of technological Grinch. Unless you’re spreading Christmas cheer via whats app, looking up recipes or digitally capturing the best moments of the celebrations, use the time you’d usually spend ‘online’ having real conversations with real people and doing things you don’t always have the chance to see or do.
Growing up, although constantly active, I dreaded Boxing Day walks as soon as Christmas Eve arrived. Now, perhaps since relocating to a bigger city, I cannot wait to get out into the fresh air and wonder aimlessly across the vast and chilly fields. During the holidays I don’t go to the gym but instead make time to do some gentle body weight workouts or yoga routines in my bedroom, if I feel restless. To aid digestion, circulation and to keep your body feeling fit, take a little time each day to stretch, walk or run – for meditative purposes as much as for fitness. It also helps to get family or friends involved so you don't miss out on the real fun. Try suggesting a new tradition like a pre christmas dinner walk or a gentle evening stretch down in front of a favourite christmas movie. This way you'll work up a healthy appetite and keep your body from shutting down completely as you begin to relax. Exercise also release endorphins and helps calm and settle the mind, so if there's a stressed host/ess in the family, it will do them (and everyone around them) the world of good.
But also slow down
It’s okay to take it easy.
Fill your cupboards
If your main concern is not having enough healthy options at Christmas, my best advice is to stock your kitchen so that there will always be something nourishing for you to snack on. Whether you want raw chocolate on hand so you don’t end up eating the more processed alternatives, or whether you want superfoods on hand to ensure you have an easy, instant route to vital vitamins and minerals, making room for your favourite pantry staples in the kitchen, or in your luggage if you are travelling, is a simple step for a balanced holiday.
The holidays tend to free up a lot of time if and when you’re not working so much. Take up a new or temporary hobby that requires you to utilize a different part of your brain or exercise a different skill. Spending time on something new can open you up to things you may never have known you enjoyed had you stuck to your usual routine. It doesn’t have to be educational or especially enriching. Maybe learn a language, lose yourself in some terrible television, read a new book, do some art or discover some new music.
Evaluate, congratulate, appreciate and formulate
As we near the end of another year, take time to reflect on all of the days you had in 2015, and learn to acknowledge and appreciate your achievements. I personally find it hard to naturally praise myself if and when I achieve something, as there is always something else on my to-do list and I never schedule in time to celebrate. I often end up realizing what an achievement something is when one of my friends or family bring it up and I’m like, “oh yeah, that, yeah I guess that is a pretty big deal”. Once you’ve concentrated on what you’ve accomplished in days gone by, you’ll find it easier to formulate new ideas and set intentions for the days to come. General winter wellness tips.