The holiday season can be fun, a time we share with the loved ones and friends.
But it can also be stressful if we let our schedules and commercial hassles drive us and leave us depleted. Holiday shopping, visiting with family, traveling, managing food and alcohol consumption, getting enough exercise, and maintaining our yoga routines can all be overwhelming.
The good news: we have a power to change the patterns which are not serving us. Try the following simple tips to make a difference in the holiday season.
1.) Eat well.
The holiday season can add up quite a few extra pounds, adding more stress. Try to avoid fried and processed foods and choose foods with the fewest and freshest ingredients. If you eat meat, opt out for the leanest of organic meats and fish. Fill your plate with veggies and salads, so you are less tempted to pack more four-cheese lasagna on your plate! Limit breads and fatty dressings; choose oil and vinegar instead. Pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel. Enjoy simple homemade meals. Try not to overindulge. Eat alone rather than in a bad company.
2.) Chew slowly.
Whether at a party or at home, try to consciously chew your food twice as long as you normally would. Focus on enjoying the taste more than filling your stomach. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. The food has to reach the intestines before your body starts sending signals telling your brain that you feel full. By slowing down your eating, your brain can stop you before you eat too much.
3.) Have some chocolate!
Indulge in some dark chocolate—it’s good for you! If you must eat something not so healthy, limit the serving size to one-third. A piece of traditional cheesecake could have more than 560 calories, not to mention sugar, saturated fat and all other ingredients we can’t even pronounce… Still, if you decide to indulge, become aware of what you are going to eat and say thanks. Prepare to really enjoy what you are about to eat and to fully nourish yourself.
4.) Make time to exercise.
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym. Walking outdoors can put you in a better mood. You can burn calories, increase blood flow, and give your heart and lungs a boost just by putting one foot in front of the other. Walking is also a great stress reducer. So bundle yourself and your kids up in layers and head out.
You can do yoga or Pilates during a snowstorm or when it’s just too cold to go outside. Both activities are great for adults and kids. Yoga is a great way for adults and kids to stay centered and to take a stress break. Pilates builds strong core muscles and can improve posture. It always best to learn from the teacher, but you can find yoga and Pilates classes at a gym, in a studio, or get a DVD you can follow at home.
Take stairs, go dancing, ski—there is so much to choose from!
5.) Get some extra rest.
Do not be afraid to say No to a holiday invitation or dinner that may add to your stress and steal your rest time. Definitely, getting to bed a little earlier would take you a long way. Another form of rest is tuning in and anchoring your awareness in the present moment.
Yoga is a great aid. You can start on or off the mat and practice meditation by fully engaging in the present moment.
When you’re in a car, for example, you have to focus on the road as it looks in the moment and at the same time, stay alert to anticipate the next move. Eventually, your brain resolves the two directions it’s working in by falling into a rhythm, which leads to an open state of awareness.
You can also practice this simple meditation before bed for five minutes daily. To prepare, sit or lie for a few seconds and observe your breath. Make your inhalations and exhalations smoother—breathing through the nose for the count of four. After about 12 breaths, bring the image of the soft moon into your mind. Stay with the image for a few seconds or as long as you can keep the image. When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes to reflect. Smile to tell yourself that you’re doing something you enjoy.
The weather might not co-operate, the flight can get cancelled and you might not make to your favorite yoga class. Don’t get stuck on “how it should be”—consider what is.
Ed: Brianna B.