Tis the season for family, friends, gatherings, and holiday delights. By removing the morality around certain foods, experiences, and people being “good or bad”, we take one step closer to finding the peace we all seek.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, etc. provide us with an opportunity to come together and celebrate.
Oftentimes that leads to nutritional and/or recreational chemical choices (caffeine, alcohol, sugar) that are less than optimal for our health. Couple that with the rekindling of family bonds (some life-giving, some less than desirable) and we are set up for health highs and lows.
Here are some practical tips to help you get the most out of your Holiday season with as little physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual stress as possible:
- Circadian Rhythm – Maintain a consistent wake-up time regardless of weekday, weekend, or holiday (sleeping in for 2-3 hours is equivalent to the jet lag of crossing 2-3 time zones).
- Morning Mindfulness practice to start your day. Depending on your personal practice and belief system this can include meditation, prayer, yoga, relaxation breath practice, journaling, etc.
- Healthy Meals – Ensure adequate protein (if animal-based protein always ensure it is organic, pasture-raised, wild-caught, and/or grass-fed) and plenty of healthy fats (EVOO, avocados, nuts/seeds, coconut oil, ghee, tahini). Complex carbohydrates are fine but avoid anything with added sugars or made with white flour.
- Move your Body – Be sure to get at least 30 – 45 minutes of physical activity daily. This will instantaneously lower stress levels and simultaneously increase feel-good beta endorphins and endocannabinoids.
- Minimize toxins – Keep alcohol and other chemical consumption to a minimum. It is easy for this to spiral for many of us during the holiday season. I recall having a glass or two of wine on most nights during Thanksgiving vacation a few years ago and I developed acute and fairly severe arthritic pain in my knees immediately thereafter. The knee pain resolved within a week after avoiding alcohol and any foods with added sugar.
- Take time for Yourself – Visiting family can be fun but it often takes us out of our self-care routine. Make sure to take some time for one’s self each day to refill your tank. This will allow you to be more fully present throughout the Holiday Season.
- “You do You” – Like other animals, we all engage in allomimetic behavior. That essentially means we copy those around us. If they drink, we are more likely to drink; if they all eat lots of desserts, we are more likely to as well. This can often lead to less desirable consequences, especially around the holidays when many of us engage in a bit of overindulgence. We can utilize this inherent behavioral characteristic for good though by intentionally surrounding ourselves with people who eat healthily, exercise daily, have positive attitudes, and minimally expose themselves to toxins.
I sincerely hope this Holiday Stress Resiliency tips aid you in your journey to health and happiness.
For additional assistance in achieving your wellness goals, please call us at Forum Health Asheville (828-252-9833) and book an appointment. We realize how circuitous the healing journey can be and will be honored to walk with you along the path.
Best wishes and Happy Holidays,
Clayton Bell, M.D.