The most important thing for us as we consume our food and drinks in plenty is that we hydrate. Mostly composed of water, humans only thrive with proper hydration. Sure that extra glass of wine is great, but not when we wake up the next morning with a dry throat, cotton tongue, and fuzzy brain. Don't dismiss the extra wine (unless you really need to), just be sure to drink some water before going to bed. Proper hydration helps alleviate puffiness, dark circles under the eyes, and helps flush out excess toxins from our system --- meaning we can have all the sugar we want, right??? Water is glorious. It is good for digestion, maintaining or encouraging weight loss, optimizing kidney and liver health, alleviating headaches, and helping with our fitness goals -- even if our fitness goals include sitting on the couch and crunching up for more food. If plain water is super boring for you, add a little cut up fruit, maybe some lemon, or some herbs like parsley or peppermint. Make it work for you in the best way possible so it would seem silly for you not to drink water. Cheers to your health!
Breathe, Rest, & Move
The holidays tend to speed up our lives, so we need to remember to slow ourselves down in the process without exhaustion and sickness beating us to it first. Three pieces, movement, breath, and rest, are key to staying mentally positive, body positive, and filled with spirit rather than doubt. These are especially helpful during the holidays when it is easy to forget the true purpose of the season. [breathe] When we focus on our breathing, we allow whatever happening around us to simply happen. Life will exist around us without impacting us in any way. During the holidays, family, expenses, and personal image can be overwhelming stressors; we feel exhausted and wrung out by the end of each day, we cannot get past the cost or what so-and-so just said, and no matter what is eaten or not eaten, it gets called into question. Here, there are two paths. We can succumb to the overwhelm and allow ourselves to become run down and unable to focus. Or we can admit that we need five minutes to ourselves, and take that time to breathe. I'll take the latter, please. When we take even just five seconds to deeply breathe with intention, the chaos in our mind and our surroundings can dissipate, even if for only a moment.
I invite you, when you are most frazzled and stressed, to breathe deeply. Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath in for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four, holding your breath out for a count of four. Repeat this three times (or more or less depending on the time you have allowed yourself). Notice how it's a lot easier to breathe and move now that you have recentered. [rest] We move a lot during the holidays; shopping for food and gifts on sale; running around picking up relatives; last minute decorating; our days are filled with non-traditional movement. It can be easy to add on more tasks, especially with year-end deadlines, in addition to extra workouts or appointments or dates. Just a friendly public service announcement to remember to rest. To be on your A-game, don't forget to slow down and relax a little too. Listen to music, take a nap, watch some TV, anything that allows your body to slow down. To be on all the time does nothing but weaken the immune system and make you exhausted -- which will make you miss out on all the good stuff! [movement] In balance with rest comes a need to move healthfully during this time. Add a yoga class, a practice that includes breath, rest, and movement. If you enjoy running, take a meditative run. If you like to walk, listen to your favorite music and walk. It can be easy to get so exhausted that we get run down and then can't do anything. Physical activity can be stimulating for the mind, our metabolism, good for the heart and fun when done right. But with all of your good intention, try not to be obsessive this season with your amount of physical activity. It's okay to choose rest over movement if you are too exhausted to be present in your life. Just a little secret: You can't cancel out a piece of pie by running on the treadmill for four hours. Just enjoy yourself and exercise to feel good, not to feed guilt.
Between holiday parties, shopping, baking, crafting, and running all over town, it can feel like this magical time of the year is a crazy uphill marathon. Rather than compete with everyone else, stay ahead of the game and pace yourself. Make lists that can be accomplished in one trip rather than fifteen separate journeys. Host a pot-luck so the baking and cooking doesn't always fall on your shoulders. Mindfully choose your holiday parties so you don't wake up exhausted every morning. Just allow yourself to go with the flow and enjoy the season! The holidays were meant to celebrate and love joyfully, not be spent out of breath and waiting for it all to be over.
Don't search for happiness as a final goal; find joy in the small things
It's easy to have the mindset that when something happens, than happiness will follow. But what if that something never happens? Are you not allowed to be happy? Of course you're allowed to be happy! But happiness doesn't happen in an all or nothing way. Maybe dinner with your family was miserable, but that doesn't mean the whole day was terrible. Maybe you had a lovely conversation with you mom about how proud she was of you, or you were able to read a book for pleasure instead of requirement, or maybe you were able to get out in the morning for a long walk. Try to look for joy and happiness, not anger or sadness. You can find happiness, gratitude, and love anywhere you look. You just have to open yourself up to the possibility of finding it in the most unsuspecting of places.
Believe -- in people, in the world, & in yourself
Everyone is going through this crazy hectic season in their own way. Perhaps you've encountered some grouchy spirits and angry souls along the way. Pity for them that they have blinders on for the delight of the season. But believe in them anyway. They need a little extra thought, a moment taken just for them, that encourages them even if they never hear it directly from your mouth. Believe in others for their kindness and generosity, their hospitality and their genial attitude. Maybe the holidays are a reminder of someone they held dear and are missing terribly, or maybe their financial burden is weighing so heavily on their shoulders that they don't know how to hold on any longer. Believe in them anyway. Believe in the power of the world, as it takes care of these people and allows us to live our lives as fully and lovingly as possible. Most importantly, believe in yourself. Find time to acknowledge all you are doing this season and all that you are to the world. Be proud and loving and exuberant. Allow yourself to be loved and congratulated and cared for. You deserve the best. So despite the roller coaster this season can cause, believe in yourself anyway.
Let yourself enjoy this season. There is a lot of tension in the world at the moment, the holidays exasperating this further. Just move and breathe and be open. Pop open some bubbly, grab your third slice of pie, laugh a little louder, and simply delight in the thrill of being alive and able to celebrate. Enjoy!
Happy Holiday Season!
Stay sane, breathe deeply, and love always.
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