Dr. Elly Jenkyns ND
6 Simple Tips to Stay Healthy & Sane during the Holidays
The holidays can be a wonderful but stressful time for many of us. Unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial strain, and the inability to be with family and friends who are no longer local can all add up.
The demands of shopping and gatherings can also add to the challenge of sticking with the diet and lifestyle choices that keep us happy & healthy all year round. Here are some tips to help you avoid some common symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, indigestion and difficulty sleeping.
1. Commit to Self-care
You cannot skimp on self-care during the holidays; it’s what makes or breaks our mental, physical and spiritual health. Book time in your agenda for activity every day. Whether it’s a 15 minute walk or a 60 minute yoga class. Walk (halfway) to work. Park farther from the entrance. Take the stairs. Do a lap of the office every 30 minutes. Now. Not next year. You’re worth it!
2. Make lists
I know I always say this, but make a meal plan for the week. With the busyness of this time of year, slow cooked meals are genius. Fill up your crockpot the night before and put it in the fridge. Start it in the morning, and by the time you’re done all of your errands, dinner will be ready.
Have a specific recipient list, with thoughtful gift ideas for each loved one on it. Consider giving the gift of health, with gift certificates for non-toxic personal care products, yoga classes, massage therapy, or naturopathic medicine. Support local artisans with unique hand made gifts. Watch my social media feeds for links to holiday pop ups.
3. Eat mindfully
Enjoy your holiday favourites; don’t deprive yourself. But be thoughtful about your food choices. Avoid foods that aggravate your body. If you’re not sure what foods are causing you trouble, book an appointment so we can get you sorted out.
Survey the spread before loading up your plate; fill it with intention. Focus on health-delivering veggies. Contribute to the celebration by bringing a nourishing dish.
Slow down and chew your food to mush! Put your fork down between bites. Continue your conversation. Relax. This will optimize digestion; preventing the bloating that too often happens when we indulge at parties. We need less food to feel satisfied when we take our time and savour.
Alternate days of indulgence and rich food with days of vegetable soups and loads of water. If you’re drinking at a holiday gathering, have a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated and slow down your consumption.
4. Add fiber
Psyllium is a fiber source that combines with liquid to form a gel, making poops bulkier and easier to pass, enhancing satiety and decreasing overeating. It can combat the bowel slow downs that eating rich foods can cause. When I wake up, I mix 1 tsp psyllium in 1 cup of filtered water and drink immediately to avoid thickening. I chase that with another cup of filtered water.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep out of every 24. Our bodies and minds perform best with consistent sleep and wake schedules, but on those days when you know you’ll be up later than you’re used to, set aside some time during the day to take a nap or simply rest.
Take some time out during the holidays to meditate and find stillness in nature. Connecting with nature is essential to bring inner peace during a busy month. Our body’s daily rhythm of hormone production is regulated by our exposure to light and dark. Get daily exposure to sunlight and ensure that your bedroom is completely dark. Unplug. In the few hours before bed, turn down the lights and avoid screens.
Take 5 minutes during your day (on waking or retiring is perfect) for contemplation and relaxation. Write in a gratitude journal, colour in a mandala, or simply focus on your breath.
Set aside time to reflect on the year behind you and all that you’ve accomplished. Rather than committing to unattainable New Year’s Resolutions, set your intentions for what you would like to work towards in the coming year and plan actionable steps.