Andy Williams serenades us that it’s the most wonderful time of the year…but do his lyrics mention that it’s also the most stressful? Yes there are parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting… but there are also busy shopping malls full of throngs of consumers to brave. There is also a calendar full of conversation with family and coworkers, rich meals that take a toll on the adrenals, and the list goes on. This busy time can be extremely stressful which makes us forget about what the holidays are really all about, spending quality time connecting with those we love.
Here are five tips to stay stress-free this holiday season:
- Eat balanced meals. It’s easy to overindulge and over imbibe over the holidays, but we suggest you indulge strategically. Eat smaller meals rather than save up for one huge feast. First thing in the morning (even before that cup of coffee!) drink a glass of warm lemon water. This helps flush the digestive system and hydrate the body. Think about balancing across meals: if you know you’re going to overdo it at grandma’s boxing day dinner with turkey, stuffing, and chocolate cake, schedule in a meal the next day of roasted vegetables and a leafy green salad. Take a tip from the French lifestyle of “less is more.” You don’t see Parisians shying away from cheese and wine, but you also don’t see them feasting on North American-sized portions. Ultimately when it comes to food, remember that all of these festive gatherings are about connecting with other people over food. Try to think about the connection as primary and the eating as secondary.
- Take your vitamins and supplements. Depending on where you’re located, the lack of sun this time of year can be emotionally and mentally draining and leads to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for some folks. Health Canada’s daily dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU for most people, though many experts suggest taking far more than that during the winter. Try Nutristart’s Quick D – the “sunshine vitamin” to get you through the long dark winter. Another whole foods supplement to consider adding to your holiday diet is the NutriPods Original: it includes all your daily vitamins and essential nutrients in one convenient pack and supports your immune system, boost energy and metabolism, and promotes cardiovascular health. Remember to stay away from really cheap, discounted supplements as they can be a money grab that doesn’t offer actual nutrition.
- Exercise! If you’re going to be eating more, make sure you exercise more. Calories in, calories out. With a packed schedule it might be hard to find the time to hit a yoga class or get to the gym for a full upper body workout, but the small things make a difference. Take a brisk walk outside for 30 minutes, three times a week. Choose from Fitness Magazine’s list of 20 minute home workouts. Make a playlist of your 5 favourite songs and dance around! Working out doesn’t have to be structured. Moving your body in a way that feels good and fun gets your heart rate up is all you need.
- Prioritize self-care. In the season of giving, we must tend to our own needs in order to adequately be there for others. This isn’t something to feel guilty about! Think about what makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated (your ideal “me time”) and schedule in some time for self-care each week. Play with your dog; read that book you’ve been meaning to; relax in a hot bath with lavender epsom salts; listen to a podcast you love while doing some stretching; book a massage; go “tech-free” once a week…it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re regularly dedicating time to relaxing and restoring.
- Sleep. As they say, sleep is the greatest healer. Getting adequate amounts of sleep (ideally 7-8 hours per night) will support digestion, grow muscle and repair tissue, synthesize hormones, and offer clarity and alertness during waking hours. If you can’t get a full sleep every night, consider incorporating a 20 minute nap into your afternoon to rejuvenate and refocus. If “cat naps” aren’t for you, try some of these energy-inducing yoga poses throughout the day.
Remember, the holidays are about connection, joy, and fun. We hope these tips are helpful and assist you in creating a stress-free, happy holiday season!