11.15.2017

Wellness Wednesday || 9 Ways To Stay Healthy During The Holidays…Mentally + Physically

I always find it ironic that one of the most festive times of the year is often filled with illnesses and stress (sorry to be a downer, but we’ve all heard of the holiday that was ruined due to flu that took down the entire family….). With the cooler temps, indulgent lifestyle, and festive celebrations, sleep, exercise, and an overall sense of taking care of the self is often neglected. And with so much on the “to-do” list it’s easy to see why it takes a back burner. Yet, I always find that when that happens, I tend to feel lethargic, and to be honest, not in such a “festive” spirit…..

For me though, health composes of both mental and physical components…. if I’m feeling good physically but stressed out of my mind how “healthy” can I really be? So, today I’m sharing the 9 ways I’m prioritizing my health this holiday season…..

1. Don’t Compare: This is such an easy time of year to get caught up in this trap…. from someone going to more parties than you to that person having the “perfect” family photo (something I don’t ever think I’ll experience with my little tornado… haha). I’m completely guilty in this category, but always feel like crap when I do it. For me personally, it’s so important to take inventory of all I have to be grateful for regularly… that way, when the desire to compare creeps in, I can easily recall the blessings I’ve been given.

2. Practice “The Season Of Giving”: While there’s no doubt that this “season” is commercially marked with gifts and getting, I think it’s crucial to “give back” to embody the true meaning of the season. It’s been proven that giving back lowers stress levels, depression, and blood pressure, while increasing self-esteem and overall happiness. Each year my family and I adopt a family to take Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to (we drop off the ingredients for the meal). We started this about 9 years ago, and I still remember the first time we dropped off the basket. The family didn’t speak English… and my parents, sister, nor myself speak Spanish… so, thankfully TJ was there to guide the process with the Spanish he knows. The family was profoundly grateful and I remember the immediate mood lift I received. Of course, there are smaller ways to give back during this time as well… if you see a homeless person in front of a grocery store, buy them a few items from the store…. volunteer time for a cause that means a lot to you, adopt a child to provide a gift to (I feel like stores have these opportunities all the time)…. whenever I’m considering “giving back” I’m always reminded of the quote from Anne Frank: “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

3. Simple Swaps: While there are some things I don’t care about being “waistline friendly” (i.e. pumpkin + apple pie… just give me the real thing) there are other indulgences that I can make simple swaps with and find they taste just as good. I like to sub apple sauce for butter, coconut sugar instead of regular granulated sugar (benefits explained in more detail here), and alternative flours (my favorite is almond flour). I guess I feel like making simple swaps can often ensure my little indulgences are filled with “real” ingredients. This is one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes I made last year.

4. Move: It’s so easy to fill your schedule with fun festivities, but when I schedule in time to exercise it ensures I don’t slack in this department. Moving releases serotonin and has been proven to help remedy “the blues.” It’s also a great way to catch up with friends and family from out of town…. enjoy a walk together, go on a hike, take them to your favorite workout class…. kill two birds with one stone and then head to a delish workout after.

5. Manage Stressors: As I mentioned above, with all the holiday activities and get togethers, sometimes it can get overwhelming and stressful (especially if you’re hosting dinner…  or family members don’t get along). I chatted about managing stress in this post, and think it’s a great reminder for this season…. take deep breaths, ask for a hug when you need one, prioritize, check things off your list…. You’ll enjoy the season more and people will enjoy being around you more (at least in my case….).

6. Have A Clean Eating Plan: I think it’s so important to indulge in life…. but to balance that out with a “clean” plan when it’s time to get back on track. While the holidays tend to be a marathon of indulging, I try to get back on track at the start of the week (something similar to this meal plan). It’s a simple way to ensure that I don’t go too wild during the holiday season (another chocolate martini please… and yes, there was a season when those were my go-to libation….).

7. Say “NO:” I could chat about this topic for days… but I’ll make it short and sweet for this post. It’s ok to say “No” if you start to feel like you’re overextending yourself this holiday season. It took me a while to realize that I was an extroverted-introvert and that continually saying “yes” to every invitation I received was draining me of my energy… leaving me feeling fatigued and frequently sick. I needed some “alone” and “down” time to recharge myself. All that to say, it’s completely ok to not accept every invitation that finds itself in your inbox, and doing a quick check-in with yourself to see if you’re feeling rundown is a great way to assess whether or not to accept the invite.

8. Sleeeeeep: I probably don’t need to chat about the impact lack of sleep has on your health, but it’s true (I mean, I remember how I felt after being sleep deprived with the arrival of little miss). I wrote a post on sleep and while it doesn’t work all the time, it helps the majority.

9. Essential Oils: Several people requested a few “natural” ways to stay healthy during the holidays and I’ve had some success with essential oils. When I was sick last week, I used the blend “breathe” on my chest and around my nose and it drastically helped open my nasal passage (I was able to breathe with ease). TJ also had a horrible ear infection when we returned from Hawaii (woke up in the middle of the night in pain), and although he needed an antibiotic to treat it, in the middle of the night he used a blend of On Guard, Peppermint, Lavender, and olive oil and the pain subsided to the point that he could sleep through the night.

I reached out to my girl Kate who knows all about oils and she recommended the following:

On Guard: 1 drop in hot water or tea will help increase immunity… also take it at the beginning of a cold to minimize symptoms + duration.
Peppermint: A great option in tea to help with sore throats
A Blend: A drop of peppermint and a drop of lemon or orange is a great energizing mix to help you get through all the holiday shopping!

That’s it! Would love to know if you have any to add…..
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