Healthy Holidays: Stay BALANCED and savor the season.

All the holiday shopping, prepping, partying, and rushing around can often get in the way of actually enjoying the season. Cultivating mindfulness and balance is something we could all use more of, especially during this time of the year.  While it is difficult not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, if you are mindful of your thoughts and actions, you can slow down and find far more enjoyment in the season.  Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way. This year i want you to try slowing down so you can stay sane, healthy, and enjoy the holidays in a mindful way. Easier said than done, you say? Here are my tips for staying balanced,  present, and enjoying what’s important to you this holiday season.

Schedule exercise

Don’t let a busy holiday season schedule throw your exercise routine off; keeping fit is the best way to feel energized throughout the season. This is the time to create some structure around your workouts: Join a training group or enroll in a weekly yoga class. Set a regular date with your co-workers to attend fun fitness classes together. Go on evening walks with your family and loved ones. Sign up for a New Year’s Day race and commit to training at least twice a week. Plan ahead and make the commitment to feeling your BEST. Exercise endorphins will fuel your holidays with energy, strength, and a positive spirit – make TIME for it!

Embrace imperfection

We all know we’re not perfect. But we often spend valuable mental and emotional energy wishing we could do things better. This is especially true around the holidays, when we’re bombarded with images of the model family, the ideal kids, the perfect dinner, the museum-quality home decor. We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. Take the pressure off yourself. What if you were to actually celebrate what you formerly saw as your shortcomings? The imperfect parts of your holiday may become some of your best memories. It’s okay if your house isn’t spotless and your stuffing isn’t ready for its close-up. Don’t let visions of perfection prevent you from enjoying the good in front of you.

Take an attitude of gratitude

The message of the holidays is a healthy one: Be grateful for the harvest, or, in modern phrasing, for what you have. Cue a daily ritual as a reminder of this throughout the holiday season: Before your first sip of coffee, take a few moments to recognize some things you are thankful for. You can also write in a gratitude journal or say thanks for specific things nightly around the dinner table.  Showing gratitude for what you have will produce good feelings and allow you to appreciate the season.

Schedule in solo time

With house guests and parties, parties, parties, it’s easy to drown out your own thoughts. You need time for YOURSELF in order to stay sane and balanced. Cultivate quiet time and schedule it in. Devote the first ten minutes of the day to journaling or go for walking meditation after dinner. Make sure you have the time you need to feel your best both mentally and physically.

Dress up your table 

Take the time to dress up your holiday dinner table. It serves as a reminder to SAVOR the meal and the time with your loved ones. By making the effort to prepare a nice holiday feast you are acknowledging the blessing of your time together and celebrating good food and company. Its can be fun to make a toast to those at your table and honor those around you. Make your get together an event to remember and cherish for years to come. Heres a fun photo of my family’s thanksgiving table this year, so much fun to be together!

Choose balance

Chances are there are some things you do every year that you don’t need to or even really want to be doing. Throw those out the window! You can’t be everywhere at once. Give yourself permission to decline some invitations so that you can truly enjoy the ones you do accept. It’s OK to honor what you need during the holidays. Take time for yourself and surround yourself withe the people you love. If it doesn’t bring YOU joy don’t give it energy, spend the holidays doing things that make YOU happy!

Prep for calmness

Planning goes a long way during the holidays. Stock up on pantry items early, before stores get crowded, and purchase extra nutritious snacks for surprise visitors. Buy a few hostess gifts to keep wrapped in your closet, ready for the last-minute event. When you plan ahead you’ll never be stressed about a last minute hostess gift or appetizers for out of town guests.

Update Your recipes and Nourish Your Body

Its so important to eat well and nourish your body with foods that make you feel good. It’s easy to make small, healthful changes to traditional family dishes: Switch to less processed ingredients wherever possible, and add whole grains instead of refined ones. Keeping foods simple is an easy way to keep a healthy lifestyle and feel nourished during the busy time of year. You can get great ideas from Cooking Light, Eating Well, and Whole Foods. But….

Indulge a little bit….. and SAVOR it!

Aim not to deprive yourself or over-indulge. Holiday foods are glorious and should be appreciated.  Skip the store-bought cookies and choose to enjoy the special foods you look forward to this time of year. Make it your goal to practice moderation, savor each bite, and give thanks!

Snooze To Win

Getting enough sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. While it’s easy to fall into an erratic schedule with parties, travel, preparation, and other seasonal events, you will feel better and actually be able to accomplish more if you cultivate a restful sleep routine. Don’t shortchange yourself by trying to squeeze extra hours into the day; recognize your own need to rest. Make a conscious effort to get in bed an hour earlier. Stop working two hours before bed and turn off the tv /computer.  Does your spouse snore or is your neighborhood loud? The quality of your sleep can have as much of an impact as the quantity. Make time to fit quality REST into your routine to have MORE energy throughout the season.

Soak in natural light

Fluorescent mall lights don’t cut it—sunlight is a better mood booster. Take a walk at lunch or duck out before making dinner to absorb the natural world. Heres a fun article to help you break out of the winter funk, and get more Vitamin D in your life! 

Drink UP!

During the holidays we can get so busy we forget to hydrate. That combined with festive holiday coffees and  cocktails is a recipe for disaster. Being dehydrated can sap your energy and make you feel tired — even mild dehydration of as little as 1 or 2 percent of your body weight. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated — and this can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness and other symptoms. Be mindful and make a conscious effort to drink up throughout the day. Click here to read some tips to help you drink up and stay hydrated this season!

Do Good.

Pitch in at a canned food drive or help feed the homeless at a local charity event. Participate in a holiday fundraiser  or community active event to raise money for those in need. Taking part in a charitable event is a great way to feel joyful and contribute to the world. Spread the cheer this year and DO GOOD!

My #1 suggestion for feeling restored and balanced  during the holidays is to put aside the notion that “you don’t have enough time”.  Honor your physical, mental, and spiritual needs and establish a sense of balance for yourself during this time of year. I believe doing this will allow you to feel peaceful and truly appreciate the beauty of the holidays. Whats your number one tip for staying healthy and sane? Leave a comment below with your suggestion on feeling your best during the season. 
Heres to a healthy, happy, and vibrant end of 2011. Looking forward to celebrating with you online and in class. Lets move, breathe, and GLOW this holiday!

Caroline

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One thought on “Healthy Holidays: Stay BALANCED and savor the season.

  • By Colleen/Mom - Reply

    I celebrate the season of Advent that leads to the feast of Christmas. This year I signed up for a course called Child of the Light on the website Spirtuality and Practice. It is a lovely course with daily reflections/meditations/prayers and carols. It helps to slow down, relect on each days promise and savor blessings!

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