“Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.” Harry S. Truman
There are so many ways “in” to a peaceful, healthy, balanced holiday season. A non-harried holiday season is totally within our reach if we care to create it deliberately. Before the holidays happen TO you, take a moment to envision and plan a holiday season that makes you happy.
During this holiday season, we can address our thoughts/attitude, our food, our movement, our sleep, our relationships, sleep, and the way we spend our time and money. Below you will find many means to a more peaceful, present holiday. Choose one or two that resonate with you. What seems easy, fun and nourishing? Do those things!
Set Your Own Tone:
- Create a vision and mantra for what you’d like this holiday season to be all about. Connection and joy? Peace and generosity? Groundedness and love? It is your month, no matter what you might believe! Take in to consideration how you’d like to feel like on January 1st.
- In order to stay close to your vision, incorporate a self-care practice that keeps it present and fresh: journaling, quotes, mindful meditation, daily breath work, gratitude practice.
- Despite the fact that you may be celebrating at others’ homes, or going along with others’ traditions, create ease for yourself within those moments when other people might be calling the shots. Sometimes, it’s only your attitude that you’re in control of. That’s enough.
- Carve out calm on a regular basis.
- Install a free/cheap app to help you meditate or breathe deeply every day: Calm.com and Headspace are two that help users to develop an easy breathing practice.
- Try Count of Four Breathing: Breathe in to the count of four; hold the breath for the count of four; exhale to the count of four; leave your lungs empty to the count of four. Do this four times. Repeat four times daily. Perfect when you are irritated, stressed, late, etc. Breathing this way creates a shift in your body and mind. Try it!
- Check out a podcast or CD that grounds you in wisdom. This season, I’m listening to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. It’s so good. Last holiday season, I listened to Pema’s Don’t Bite the Hook. Supporting yourself with messages of mindfulness (or gratitude or ….) can be so very helpful for staying grounded and working through habitual thought patterns.
- Don’t wait until January! Don’t consider December as a “throw away” month in terms of self-care. Set loving goals for yourself for December. The key is being kind. Do NOT beat yourself up with your goals.
- If it is supportive, create a weekly checklist for yourself to help you stay on track.
- Check out www.stickK.com to commit to an action – put some money down, get some support, make it public!
- Say “Maybe” before you say “yes” or “no.” Many of us have a bad habit of saying YES to requests for volunteering, for carpools, for social engagements…and then getting overwhelmed or resentful. Practice saying MAYBE. Give yourself time to process what’s coming at you without diving in so fast. Ask yourself, “Can I do this with joy?” “Can I do this AND take care of myself at the same time?” This is a marvelous way to avoid resentment!
- Turn on the music and light a candle. No explanation needed, right?
Create a Climate of Peace inside your Body
The science of the matter is that our main stress hormone, cortisol, co-opts the optimal functioning of many of our other hormones (think thyroid health, adrenal health, reproductive health). Chronically high cortisol, among other lovely effects, causes our blood sugar and insulin levels to rise. Both cortisol and insulin are fat storage hormones. High blood sugar and insulin levels set the stage for pre-diabetes or insulin resistance, and thus a vicious cycle is set in motion. By managing our stress through the way we eat, move, think, breathe, and supplement, we set the stage for hormonal balance and weight loss.
Create peace in your body through Blood Sugar Balancing.
- Plan a menu. This doesn’t help balance your blood sugar, but it makes balanced blood sugar much more achievable! Meal planning is huge time saver, a mind de-clutterer, and a foundation for healthful eating. Plan whatever meals aren’t going well for you. I always plan breakfast, dinner, and snacks. For me, lunches are leftover, and so they often take care of themselves.
- Eat a breakfast. Again: eat a breakfast. Make sure it contains protein (i.e. two eggs, including the yolk, grass-fed beef patties, etc.) and fat, then add in the color: blueberries, sautéed greens, sliced cucumber, sauerkraut. Fats to incorporate are organic, pastured butter, organic unrefined coconut oil, ghee, avocados, olives and olive oil. Saturated fats are not evil. Enjoy them.
- Eat enough so that you don’t have to eat again until 4+ hours later. Remember that fat and protein keep you satiated for longer. If you can’t make it 4 hours, then adjust protein and fat content of your meals. Work up to it: don’t starve yourself in the process!
- Avoid white/beige food: it’s the sugar, flour, pastas, rice, potatoes, bread, bagels, cake that are making us fat and bonkers, not the fat. Focus on doing without. This is really an important piece to our overall health on every level.
Drink your way to peace.
- Drink calming teas: herbal teas are healing and soothing. Try Organic India Tulsi Teas which contain tulsi/holy basil, an herb that supports and protects your precious adrenal glands.
- Start and end your day with warm lemon water. This will keep your liver happy. Warm lemon water at bedtime lowers your cortisol.
- For a lovely non-alcoholic cocktail: Try mineral water with just a splash of artisanal vinegar. Drink it out of a cocktail or wine glass, and it will feel indulgent and festive!
- Reduce or avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both raise your cortisol and both can and do disrupt sleep.
Supplement your way to peace.
If you need the extra support, some well-chosen supplements can help you manage sugar cravings and regulate cortisol (sugar cravings and stress are best friends if you haven’t already noticed). These supplements do not take the place of well-chosen, nutritious food. If you’d like some support with supplementation choices, I’d love to help.
- Omega 3s: Omega 3s reduce inflammation which creates calm on many different levels in your body and brain. Omega 3s are good for brain health and can help manage cravings.
- Magnesium: Most of us are deficient in this heart healthy, calming micronutrient. Helpful for sugar cravings and for stress. Try Calm, a powdered magnesium drink, before bedtime, Epsom salt baths, or magnesium oil spray.
- Rhodiola: This adaptogenic herb is effective at reducing cortisol: 200mg/2x/day. This dosage is recommended by Dr. Sara Gottfried, author of The Hormone Cure.
- B Complex: Our Bs are important for stress, sugar cravings, and mental balance. Make sure the B complex you’re getting contains folate, not folic acid, and the methylcobalamin form of B12.
- Glutamine: This is an amino acid that is helpful for calming sugar cravings. It is also healing for the gut lining. Can take 2g two times a day. If in capsule form, you can empty capsule into water or right on your tongue. Helpful in the morning and in the late afternoon when sugar cravings rear their ugly heads.
- Vitamin D. Have you had your D levels checked lately? So helpful for immune health, calm, hormonal balance…levels should be between 50-75 (this is optimal…the reference ranges are lower on blood tests, so check your number!
Sleep your way to peace.
- Just this month, make it a goal to get in bed at a decent time. Our most restorative sleep happens between 10 pm and 2 am.. Just getting in bed helps manage late night eating and wine drinking. Lack of sleep and weight gain go hand in hand.
Exercise your way to peace.
- Try yin yoga poses – Start or end your day with a yin yoga pose – basically, a passive poses held for 3-5 minutes, breathing deeply during that time. Try a yoga pose when you come home from your day, before you transition into dinner-making mode. Try twists, which are especially loverly for your adrenals.
- Pilates is another supportive exercise that is invigorating, but not so harsh that it’s going to run over our adrenals.
- Hiking in the hills: Getting outdoors is a wonderful way to reconnect with the healing power of nature and expand our daily perspective.
- Don’t go crazy on cardio. Bursts/interval training are much more effective for fat burning and don’t put stress on your body like an hour of cardio. Too much cardio is a good way to wear down our bodies AND hold on to excess weight.
Party in a way that brings you peace (the next day).
Gatherings can trigger us all…the expectations, the overindulging. Think through BEFORE you go the ways that you can wake up the next day raring to go.
Focus on the connections. A brilliant client of mine just made the goal of learning something new about each person at her Thanksgiving celebration. This shifted her attention from the food to her own connections with people. Parties don’t have to be about the food and drink!
- Don’t show up hungry. This will take some planning, but it’s so important not to show up to parties famished. It will put you in control, reduce your stress and help you focus on people.
- Bring something beautiful and delectable to the party. This is a great way to ensure that there will be something that there that is nourishing. Try to bring a dish that is not bread/cracker based. Use a romaine lettuce leaf, a collard leaf or an endive to hold a yummy dip.
- Really taste whatever you eat or drink. If you’re going to eat that chocolate pecan pie, show up for the experience. Eat slowly. Taste EVERY bite. It’s when we’re guilted-out that we tend to shovel so fast we don’t even taste what we’re eating.
- Opt for fat over sugar. Fat is satiating. Sugar doesn’t fill us up and is addictive. Breads and crackers translate to sugar in your body.
- Identify your triggers before you go to a party and devise a plan to avoid. Sugar? Gluten? Too much alcohol? Come up with a plan before you step through the door. Remember the event is about connections to other people and staying connected to yourself.
- Moderate alcohol. Ideas for moderating:
- Put off the first drink. Start with bubbly water.
- Drink a glass of water or two between every alcoholic drink.
- Decide how many drinks you’ll have before you start.
- Opt out completely.
- Decide how you want to feel/eat the next day. Make a plan for a morning activity for the next day so you have to get up ready to go!
Love your Liver.
To protect your liver during this time of year:
- Go to bed on time. Our livers do all their heavy lifting at night.
- Drink water, especially lemon water, which is liver supportive.
- Drink detox teas. There are some great ones at any health food store.
- Add a dropper full of Milk Thistle herbal extract (with or without Yellow Dock) to your tea each day. This is a powerful antioxidant and liver protector. The Yellow Dock protects the kidneys. Gaia is a great brand available at Whole Foods and health food stores.
- Eat cruciferous veggies. Arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, Brussels sprouts. Your liver will love you!
- Take an Epsom Salt Bath. Not only will this be calming and reduce inflammation (due to the magnesium), but also will help detoxify your precious body.
And last but not least…shift your awareness to others in need.
Get out of your own head and small world and consider the bigger picture. Service elevates all of us.
I look forward to hearing how you make this holiday season your own by stepping into it with awareness and intention.
To your health and happiness,