Besides the first few weeks of summer (right when school let's out but before 4th of July), the time right before Thanksgiving through Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. But funny enough, it's also the time when I experience the most amount of stress & anxiety.
Trying to balance everything that's going on, all of the shopping & prepping, & throw in both my husband's & oldest daughter's birthdays, I feel a little on edge for over a month.
It's in these times when I really try to focus in on the things I can control. So I have compiled a list of a few things I pretty much do on a daily basis to help me maintain my "inner calm" during the holiday season so that I don't let me stress get the best of me!
Consider a mindful morning & evening routine. Without fail, every single morning I wake & after brushing my teeth (immediately) I make my cup of warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar & put on my pot of coffee, then most days I journal, keeping it short & sweet. I have found this to help me with my perspective, to focus on & be open to gratitude & to start my day in a calm state. In the evening I have been trying to step away from my work & scrolling on social media & every night before I fall asleep, I pull out my Dream Box & focus on my intentions & mindset & remember to take a few nice deep breaths. Sending the signal to the body that it's time to rest & repair is critical for promoting restful sleep & for preparing the body for all it needs to do during those hours of rest. What's something you can do to have a mindful start & end to your day?
Don't overdue the caffeine & alcohol. This one is tough any time of year, but especially during the holidays when we are running on empty & desperate for energy or attending holiday gatherings. But it's important to be aware of the effects that both have on the adrenals, cortisol levels & in turn, anxiety. Starting my day with a non-caffeinated beverage has been a catalyst for drinking less coffee & hydrating while I sip on wine has helped tremendously as well. Of course we are all unique so the impact will be different for everyone, but are you aware of how sensitive you are to either caffeine or alcohol?
Keep blood sugar in check with nutrients. It's hard to picture how eating a healthy meal can have a positive impact on our stress level, but when we start to realize that everything in the body is interconnected & that our body thrives on nutrients, it begins to make more sense. Nutrients provide us with natural energy. They help to balance hormones, & incorporating things like protein, fat & fiber will help keep blood sugar from spiking...which I'm sure we all have experienced & it isn't always positive! Forget about thinking of what you can avoid, and instead ask yourself, what can I add in?
Get plenty of fresh air, even if it's cold. There's no denying the calming affect that fresh air, sun & nature have on our nervous system. And cold air can be so invigorating! Many of us are intimidated by the cold so we tend to stay indoors during the winter months. But remaining trapped inside where germs circulate is not benefiting us in any way. If nothing more, at least crack your windows once in a while to let the fresh air circulate & the toxins out. Are you getting enough fresh air into your lungs on a daily basis?
Don't underestimate the power of breath. Along the same lines, breathing correctly & deeply is the best way to trigger the para-sympathetic nervous system (rest & restore) & get us out of a state of high stress. Breath can change how we respond to different situations, it also is a means of detoxifying. Not only do we detoxify through our stool, urine & sweat, but also through our breath! I love to do 4-7-8 breathing, it has helped me through some very stressful times, or just helps me to regain focus & control when I feel like my lid is flipped. And it doesn't have to take long. Have you taken a deep breath yet today?
Take time away from your phone (or other device). This is a no-brainer. I think it's safe to say that most of us probably spend more time on our devices than we'd like to admit. Besides being a time suck, all of that blue light can zap our energy & have an actual impact on our hormones & Circadian rhythm. Not to mention that the constant comparing that goes on when we watch other's "perfect" lives on social media can leave us feeling pretty lousy. Have you checked how many hours you average on your phone?
Listen to holiday tunes that put you in the spirit. Music can have a pretty amazing effect on our mood & disposition. So while Christmas music on repeat might not be your thing, finding something that soothes you might be a good start. Personally, listening to Christmas classics is so rooted in my memory & helps me to keep perspective on what the holidays are really meant to be about. What kid of music inspires or calms you?
Take part in traditions that bring you joy. Traditions have a way of tugging on our heart strings. They can make us feel a number of different emotions, but what they also do is promote a sense of comfort & belonging & help us to focus on our values & what's important. Not to mention we get to pass this on to the younger generations of our family so that little pieces of those who came before us remain alive. I have lots of traditions in my family & I love sharing them with my girls. It is some of our best times together when we are super present, happy & grateful. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
Enjoy holiday treats but know your limits or level up. As I've said many times before, avoiding things you love will only backfire. The holidays are a special time to break away slightly from some of the "rules & restrictions" we constantly put on ourselves. Understanding that this is a unique time & being ok with indulging occasionally on things you might not normally is 100% ok. But it is important to know your own unique body & how you respond to foods & to also know your limits. For example, I like to enjoy a little balance of some "Simply Balanced" & some "not-so Simply Balanced" (a term coined by a dear friend) treats. I actually love cookies for breakfast so I like to make sure I have some options for myself that have slightly better ingredients & won't send my blood sugar soaring first thing in the morning. Keep your eyes peeled for some recipes where I have tweaked the ingredients a bit to add in nutrients & "level-up" the recipe! What are you favorite holiday indulgences?
I hope there are a least a few things on this list that can help you find your calm during the holidays & focus on the joy of the season. Remember, start small & don't take on too many things at once. What is one or two areas you can focus on that will work with your life?
Wishing you a happy, healthy & calm December!