It’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, Christmas can also be the most stressful time of the year. How do you manage the family, social, financial and emotional stressors that are amplified during this season? Prioritize time for yourself to relax and unwind. Enjoy a long candlelit bath with epsom salts, curl up with a good book and your favourite cup of tea or book yourself a massage or sauna. You deserve it! Meditation, yoga and exercise also release tension of mind and body. Remember, deep breathing is a powerful tool you have to help you manage stresses that arise this holiday season.
We are all tempted to hibernate during the cold winter days. However, staying active is important for staying healthy, improving sleep and cardiovascular health, supporting emotional wellbeing and, of course, metabolizing the extra holiday goodies. Weight bearing exercise keeps bones strong and helps prevent osteoporosis.
Staying motivated is the biggest challenge. Find activities that you actually enjoy. Winter offers fun outdoor activities such as skating, cross country skiing and snow shoeing. If you would rather stay warm indoors, explore yoga, dance and fitness classes, indoor sports and the gym. Create a schedule that is manageable and find a friend to keep you committed.
Neglecting rest is easy with the excitement of the holidays. The loss of just one hour of sleep per night amounts to losing nearly a whole night of rest every week. This makes a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing.
Simple tips for a deeper sleep include giving yourself time to unwind before bed and replacing bright computer and TV screens with a book, warm bath, gentle stretching or relaxing music. Keep your bedroom completely dark by covering windows and alarm clocks. Darkness stimulates your body’s natural melatonin production which is a hormone that promotes deep rest.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with the consumerism of the holiday season. However, Christmas also offers an opportunity to reflect on your values. What is most important to you? We tend to value family and friendship over belongings. We can simplify Christmas to reflect our deepest values by creating new family traditions. For example, in my family we exchange books which reflects our value of relaxation and expanding our minds. Find a way to celebrate the holiday that is meaningful to you.
Ward off the Sniffles
‘Tis the season of colds and flu. Join me on Dec. 13th from 7-8pm at Sage Massage Therapy for a workshop on how to treat and prevent these nasty viruses using natural, safe and effective home treatments for the whole family. Learn the tools to strengthen your immune system and enjoy a healthy winter. Also learn how to create your own cold and flu first aid kit so you are prepared when the sniffles strike!
I know that I sound like Scrooge when I say that the temptation to overindulge over Christmas is high and can negatively impact our health. However, you can have a healthy holiday without sacrificing flavour and taste. For example, replacing refined, white sugar with maple syrup or honey offers a tasty, healthier alternative in your favourite Christmas baking. Check out Kathy Smart’s cookbook for delicious recipes this holiday season.
Be Kind to Yourself
During the holidays, we put many unrealistic expectations on ourselves to create the perfect holiday for family and friends. We have a vision of the perfectly clean house and perfectly cooked turkey. Attempts to achieve perfection are often self destructive since perfect does not exist. Developing self compassion for ourselves allows us to let go of the unachievable standards we place on ourselves. I highly recommend a book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection about letting go of who you think you are supposed to be and embracing who you are.
Remember the Environment
Christmas can be a time of excess that impacts our environment. Reduce your carbon footprint this year by being mindful of waste and energy consumption. Simple tips include using decorative, reusable cloth or paper bags to wrap Christmas presents and buying rechargeable batteries. You can reduce energy consumption by using LED Christmas lights and turning them off during the daytime. Turn the thermostat down by wearing sweaters and slippers to stay warm during chilly winter day. Have a green holiday this year.
Enjoy this season to connect with friends and family.
Have a happy, healthy holiday!