Let’s be honest – you can be one of the most cool, calm and collected persons but when the holiday season rolls around, stress can somehow sneak into our lives! I love this time of year and I truly do try and cherish each moment ….enjoying everything about it – the madness of the malls or the rushed feelings of getting a meal together or even getting out the door on time for a party. It’s all a part of the season & I really do enjoy all aspects of it! That said, I do make sure to keep my health in check by doing a few simple things to keep illness at bay and as stressless as possible. It’s no wonder people get sick this time of year. It might have a lot to do with the change in weather/season but I feel like it has much more to do with how we treat our bodies within the realms of stress, sleep and busy days.
I decided to write up ’12 Days of Tips’ for you all. I do these myself to help ensure I will enjoy the time between Thanksgiving and New Years day.
1 – PREP AHEAD
This seems like a given. Right?? I know I preach a lot about prepping ahead when it comes to weekly meals but this carries right into our festivities for the month. If you have a party/potluck you’ll be attending, make sure to get all that you need well in advance so you’re not running to the store in the midst of a busy hour at the the grocery store. Have it all on hand and if at all possible, make ahead of time so you can just warm and go on the day of. If you’re hosting, prepping ahead is a must! Get all of your dicing, chopping and base for recipes done ahead of time so you can just throw it all together in minutes. Making sides can always be made the day before and warmed the day of. The biggest component of prepping ahead is really getting everything you can get done before the day of your event, leaving you to spend less time in the kitchen on the on the big day.
2 – EAT MINI MEALS BEFORE PARTIES
So ….you have goals and you’re worried about sabotaging those goals by attending a party without food options that you’re used to having. Here’s what I do – I usually eat a mini meal before a get together. If I arrive at a party and there is literally nothing that I feel comfortable eating, I know I’l be a-o-k because I’m not arriving hungry. I can sip on my drink and socialize without eating something that I’m not comfortable having. I will otherwise make sure to bring along a dish and/or dessert that will fit within my lifestyle. This way, you’re not famished while watching everyone else indulge and you can also use this opportunity to share the goodness of your healthy lifestyle with others.
3 – MAKE A SIDE WITH PROTEIN
This kind of follows up with #2. Depending on what type of social you’re attending, it’s always good to add a little protein to your side dish. I do this because there have been a handful of times that the protein offered by the host is ladened with ingredients that I don’t feel comfortable consuming. It could either be something like sugar, dairy or even highly processed products that I’m just not in favor of. I have a handful of sides on my site that I simply add ground or shredded proteins and it becomes a meal! Easy.
4 – SLEEP
Well, who needs to be reminded to sleep? NOT ME! But guess what? With all the hustle and bustle, it’s super easy to get to bed later than usual or even have broken sleep patterns because of the list of things to do that you have mentally noted. First of all, keep your “to-dos” on paper or in the notes section of your phone. Check them off as you go so you can see the list dwindle — this helps so much to see the items checked off! Get to bed at your usual bedtime. If you have trouble turning off your mind, drink some sleepy tea or rub a calming essential oil like lavender on your feet. Magnesium helps calm the body so drinking something like Natural Calm will help as well. Turn off computers and TV within the hour of bedtime and curl up with a book. Sleep will help you handle stress better and keep immune system up! This is usually when sickness occurs – lack of sleep compromises the immune system….so make it a priority to rest up!
5 – MAKE A LIST OF THINGS TO DO and/or HONEY-DO LIST
So to follow up on #4 – make sure you to make lists! I am notorious for making mental lists and hoping that I remember everything. It’s not a good thing. My mind is trying to keep track of things and I end up forgetting something so in turn, it stresses me out. WHEN I DO in fact make a list, I LOVE the feeling I have when I get to physically mark a ‘check’ next to it or scratch it off. It’s so refreshing & such an accomplished feeling to see the ‘list of things to do’ dwindle down! Also, another thing I am pretty good at doing, is doing it all on my own. Well, I’m lucky… my hubby is always willing to help me out with things IF I ASK. He doesn’t read my mind. So — a great tip is to delegate if you can. This can be delegating certain household chores, some of the shopping or even help with some food prep. Whatever it is that you might be able to have your kids or honey help with, just ask 🙂
6 – PACK HEALTHY SNACKS (SHOPPING AND/OR TRAVEL)
We all know we have head out the door and end up finding ourselves famished because we have a million of errands to run and didn’t have time (or forgot) to grab lunch …or something along those lines. Or you run out the door without breakfast thinking that you’ll “be fine” til lunch. Never leave home without a lifesaver and by that, I mean some kind of snack that will hold you over and help you not get to that hangry feeling! I like to pack my purse with one or more of the following: jerky, nut butter packs, snack bag of nuts, paleo bars or even some dark chocolate. If traveling, you know that there might not be the best snack options or not even sure where you might find your next meal so always guard yourself with a few snack items that will keep your mood in tact while you search for a place to grab a meal.
7 – DRINK WATER
When you’re busy, especially this time of year ….sometimes getting in your water intake falls to the wayside. Staying hydrated is so key to a healthy winter season, especially if you’re traveling. I don’t think we need to consume more than we already do, just make sure to keep up with your norm. Staying hydrated will definitely help with overeating this time of year, it will help with sleep and it will help you keep up those workouts that you need to help steer the stress away.
8 – WORKOUT/GO FOR WALKS
If you workout already, keep it up! I’ve heard many people say, “I’m too busy this time of year to get my workout in.” But may I remind you how good you feel after working out? No matter what it is that you do, your endorphins kick in and you suddenly begin to feel less stressed. Along with that, you will probably keep your goals you may have set in check by not letting those workout days fall to the wayside. If you don’t workout on a regular basis, no need to start another stressor by adding that to the agenda but I do highly recommend getting outside and going for walks. I have it easy and live in So Cal so I know it may be harder during winter months in some areas BUT I do have friends who say they get out and walk….even on those freezing days because they love the feeling the fresh air brings to their senses. If walking outside isn’t an option, try some yoga in your living room. I just truly believe moving your body helps relieve tension and again, if you have goals set, keeping yourself a priority is key to a healthful mindset and progress.
9 – JUST SAY ‘NO’
Seems easy enough, right? Not so much. It really does take practice to be able to say no to people, no matter what the question is. Don’t set yourself up for failure (and stress) by taking on too much. Even if it means that you say no to a social gathering because you honestly don’t want to add another thing to the calendar. We all get super busy this time of year so we all should be understanding if we just simply can’t make their gathering. Have kids at school? They always need volunteers right? I know, I have been there but as much as we know we need to do our part we also know that we can’t cut ourselves too thin. Just be mindful about how much you’re saying ‘yes’ to and cut back when needed.
10 – LAUGH
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and I am here to tell you that it really is! It works! Make the time to sit and watch a great comedic holiday movie ….or anything that will give you a good belly laugh. It really does help lighten a mood and uplift a stressed spirit. My hubby senses when I am starting to get to “that point” and will always do or say something to make me laugh. It truly does help ground me and is a gentle reminder to enjoy this time of year!
11 – USE SMALLER PLATES TO CONTROL PORTIONS
Whether or not you have goals you’re trying to attain, overeating is usually a given this time of year. And it’s super easy to do when you have a big plate, loaded with everything that is offered. My little trick is to use a smaller plate. I still get a little bit of everything that I want BUT the key is ‘a little bit’ of everything. We honestly don’t need to set each portion the size we would normally have on any weeknight dinner – especially when there are 10 sides to choose from! You can always go back for seconds if you choose but I’ll bet that after you finish your small plate of food you’ll be satisfied and feeling good that you’re not stuffed!
12 – EAT TIL SATISFIED NOT FULL
Following through with #11, let’s remind ourselves that we should eat until we are satisfied, not full. Let your brain realize you’re eating – it takes a while for it to catch up to what your stomach is already starting to feel. If you take the time to eat your food – putting the fork down between bites, chewing the food well and really letting your body register the fact that you are now fueling it, it will definitely start giving you the signs of feeling satiated. If you pay attention to the signs, you will thank yourself later! While all of your friends and/or family are sprawled out on the couch moaning, you’ll be feeling good about your decisions and physically feel great!
And this is a good one! How many of us have friends or family who question why eat the way we do? Or perhaps make comments like, ‘Just eat it’, ‘Why do you deprive yourself?’ or even ‘It’s the holidays, give in’???? Do any of those ring a bell? I have had those questions or comments thrown out to me many times. After 5 years of eating like this, I don’t hear those comments anymore but if you still do – stand strong and be proud of how you eat and all that you’ve accomplished! This has so much more to do about health in my opinion. And while I don’t question why a family member eats certain things, they shouldn’t question why I don’t eat certain things, right? All this to say, it’s all said because they either don’t understand or perhaps envious that you can stay true to your healthy lifestyle …..either way, make decisions based on what you feel not how someone is trying to make you feel. It’s your body, your mind and your health — make decisions with that in mind and no one or anything else.
Well there you have it! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, no matter where or how you spend it! It really should be the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR ….so really try to enjoy all aspects of it, while staying true to you! <3