Happy December, Friends!
To quote my children’s favorite christmas album by Andrew Peterson, A Slugs and Bugs Christmas:
There’ve been Christmas decorations up in Target, like forever… I can’t believe it’s finally here!
Having four Little Farmers around our place certainly helps heighten the mood, but it still doesn’t feel like December.
We have a half decorated-Christmas tree in our family room and an Advent candle arrangement on our mantle. We are learning Joy to the World — all four verses — this year as a family. Many evenings we take time to read through an Advent guide. The songs and Scripture help us focus our minds and hearts upon Christ. (If you are looking for an Advent resource, this one we use is free!)
This week we have focused upon the hope that Christ provides. We have hope because Christ came as a baby to give His life for us, and we have hope that he will come again as a conquering King to make all things right in this broken world.
Despite any of our best intentions to focus upon the true reason for Christmas celebration, holiday stress is a reality. It is easy to allow our health to fall by the wayside when we are busy and stressed (after all, we can just start fresh in January, right?)
Do you really want to compromise your health like that this year?
I am not sure how you approach these holiday seasons — with anticipation or with dread — but here are 5 simple strategies that will help you prevent a meltdown. I’ll expound more upon these individually in upcoming posts, but here are some thoughts to get you started.
1. Get moving – Aim for 10 minutes of heart-pumping movement, three times a day.
(To do the math for you, that’s 30 minutes a day — but 30 sounds a lot more intimidating than 10 x 3 if you don’t have a regular routine anyway.)
What about taking a 10 minute stroll after each meal? Bundle up and bring a family member or co-worker along! Not only will you improve you blood glucose levels, you will release powerful mood-enhancing hormones.
Not to mention the fact that a little sunshine in the winter months will keep your spirits merry!
2. Take a long winter’s nap – No matter how much you have going on these holidays, don’t compromise your sleep!
(Okay, I am guilty as charged– preaching to myself here!)
A good night’s sleep is your secret weapon to conquering the day ahead!
It’s easy to run off of adrenaline when you feel stressed — you may not even “feel tired” when your body runs in overdrive. I know it’s tempting to borrow a few hours from your sleep budget each night to fit everything into your schedule. But, when you do that you can quickly rack up a significant sleep debt!
Missing just one hour of sleep each night for a week adds up to almost an entire night of missed sleep!
Here is the reality: you need sleep in order to maintain a healthy weight, moderate your food intake, keep up your immunity, and feel energized. Aim for 8 hours a night. A 20-minute afternoon power nap isn’t a bad idea either.
For you mamas out there, my motto is “Sleep when they sleep, or cry when they cry!”– I know from personal experience!
3. Drink to your health – Include plenty of water and non-caffeinated beverages
When heaters run during the winter time and the air holds less humidity, our sinus passages and skin dry out more quickly. However, we also tend to feel less thirsty during cold weather. It’s important to stay hydrated — you can still become dehydrated in the winter!
Herbal teas and juice infusions are a great way to sneak in the water without the dehydrating and stimulating effects of caffeine.I have a hard time drinking cold water when I already feel cold. Sometimes I just warm my water (it heats in a flash in my Krups Water Kettle) and add a light splash of lemon juice or pure cranberry or cherry juice if I don’t want to take the time to brew tea.
I also love the Dandy Blend herbal coffee® — it’s the only coffee substitute I have found that actually makes me feel like I have had a coffee drink.
My Herbal Coffee Recipe: Add 2 rounded teaspoons of Dandy Blend® to a 16 oz. mug along with 2 oz. whole milk. Fill mug to the top with hot water and stir. Add a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract for a special treat. If you must have sweetener, add a little dehydrated cane juice or organic maple syrup.
Don’t forget that broth based soups, fruits, and vegetables also contain water and electrolytes to keep you hydrated. Apples boast close to 84% water content and oranges contain close to 88% water. (Check out this organic, grass-fed bone broth from Kettle & Fire!)
4. Savor the Flavor – How many times do you eat something but never taste it?
When you are on the go or in a busy environment you tend to eat mindlessly. Not paying attention not your what you are eating leads you to eat more than you may need and robs you of the “experience of eating”. In other words, you may finish eating the food on your plate but you won’t really feel as if you have dined.
Instead, eat slowly, focusing on the flavor and texture of your food. When you actually think about what you are eating, you will be able to pay better attention to your body’s satiety signals.
How you eat can be just as important as what you eat.
Also, it will be far better for you to have a small serving of a holiday delicacy — and savor every bite of it — than to try to satisfy your cravings with other “healthier” options and then still give in to the “treat”.
5. Do a Mental Decluttering Session
More on this in the next post, so stay tuned! Let’s just say, this may be my single most important strategy for avoiding a meltdown – at the holidays or at any time!
May your days be merry & bright — and full of hope!
Here’s to Wholesome!