Balanced Living

Holiday Survival Guide

Posted by Arja on December 12 in Holistic Health

It’s a mere 2 weeks until Christmas and if things aren’t feeling crazy for you yet, that’s probably about to change in the next few days.  Between office parties, neighbour’s parties, holiday shopping, baking, decorating, cooking, wrapping presents, and still trying to go about the business of your day to day life, maintaining your health and sanity may seem like a pipe dream.  There’s no doubt about it, Christmas and the lead up to New Years can be a very busy and stressful time for many people.  So, how do you keep your energy up and your stress down as you cruise the pot luck tables by day, and overcrowded stores by night?

This is probably not a good time to start a cleanse, or embark on a major overhaul of your nutrition and lifestyle habits. Major changes like that just aren’t reasonable unless you plan to stay locked up in your house over the holidays.  There are, however, some simple things that you can do that will have a major impact on your energy and mood:

1. Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can make you feel tired, sluggish, cause headaches, and trick you into thinking you’re hungry making you eat foods like sugar or refined carbohydrates that will only further drain your energy.  Fill up your water bottle and keep it with you all the time whether you’re sitting at your desk, or walking through the mall.

2. Skip the sugar.  You don’t actually need to eat every single Christmas cookie that comes your way, and quite honestly, you’ll feel better if you don’t.  Sugar depresses your immune system and I’m willing to bet that getting sick just before or after Christmas isn’t on your wish list.  On top of that, sugar also sends your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride that will result in decreased energy levels, irritability, and increased cravings for more sugar.  Sounds like fun, right?  So, eat a few cookies, but give the rest away, you’ll thank me next year if you do.

3. Take a time out. The holidays aren’t going to be any fun for anyone if you’re a stressed out basket case, so even if it seems like there isn’t even a minute to spare, make one.  I’m not asking you to take an afternoon off and hit the spa (though that would be lovely, wouldn’t it?), just take a few minutes of quiet reflection in your day and focus on your breathing.  Sit tall, shoulders back, and breathe in through your nose filling up your abdomen, and then back out through your mouth.  Take a few breaths like this a few times a day and help keep your stress in check.

4. Grab a cup of green tea.  This seems like a bad time for me to ask you to give up coffee altogether, but maybe we could meet in the middle?  Swapping out one or two cups of coffee for green tea will help cut down on the amount of caffeine you consume (which can be dehydrating and affect your sleep at night), as well as offer you a healthy dose of calming L-Theanine, an amino acid found in high amounts in green tea.

5. Practice moderation, and enjoy yourself!  Now is not the time to limit yourself to the point where going out is a chore.  You can, however, take steps the ensure that you keep some balance.  If you know that you’re going to a party in the evening, put your best game face on and focus on clean food choices all day.  By the same token, don’t use the lunch hour office party/potluck as an excuse to give up all your good intentions and binge for the rest of the day or week!  While one meal won’t completely undo you (though it may make you feel bloated the next day!), mentally giving up and not making a return to healthier choices will.

As I’ve said before, the key to any successful long-term lifestyle change is balance.  It doesn’t mean giving up everything that you love permanently, but it does mean focusing on being the best that you can be as often as possible. Balance includes celebrations, and meals with family and friends without stress and anxiety that will take away from your enjoyment.

And remember, if you do feel like you go overboard this holiday season, just take a deep breath and start the new year off on the right foot with a plan and renewed focus.

arja pennanen lytle c.n.p. n.n.c.p certified nutritional practitioner

Arja is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for balanced living. She loves to help people sleep better, think better, feel sexier, and just generally feel better by putting the focus on eating foods that make you feel good. Arja uses whole foods, lifestyle adjustments, herbs, and some supplements to help people feel their best and achieve their health and wellness goals.