The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, celebration, and spending time with loved ones. But travel, shopping and family dynamics during this season often increase stress levels and take a toll on our physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, there are many easy and convenient ways to help you thrive during the holidays – here are five of our favorites!
Include Functional Foods In Your Diet
The holidays are a time when we often let our diet slip. This is understandable, but it doesn't mean you have to completely sacrifice your health! Life is about balance, and you can enjoy your favorite indulgences while supplementing your diet with functional foods.
Adding adaptogens, superfoods and medicinal mushrooms to your daily routine are an excellent way to enhance your physical and cognitive fitness. We love nutrient-dense cacao and spirulina to keep us feeling energized and revitalized, ashwagandha and maca to help calm our nervous system and support our endurance, and cordyceps and lion's mane to boost our memory and focus.
A travel hack we love is preparing PranaCakes and BrainCakes (the waffles are our favorite!) before we fly. Instead of buying overpriced airport food lacking any real nutritional value, you can nourish your body in a way that tastes just as delicious as a cookie, without any of the dairy, preservatives and highly refined sugar. As we like to say..."it's the only way to fly!"
Mindfulness practices like yoga, meditation and breath work are gaining more and more attention as our modern world grows increasingly hectic. Adding the holidays into the mix is like hectic on steroids. Mindfulness practices can help to regulate the nervous system, reduce stress, lower inflammation, and increase happiness.
When you give yourself the gift of meditating daily, the lasting positive impact on every area of your life is extraordinary. If you already have a meditation practice, be sure to prioritize it, especially as other routines tend to go out the window. Studies show that even five minutes of focused breathing can make a significant impact on your health and longevity.
If you are just beginning, be patient with yourself and trust the process. If you need guidance to what practice is right for you, here are some links you may find helpful: headspace.com, calm.com, yogaglo.com, aurahealth.io
Drink Plenty of Water
Consuming enough water is a critical component to maintaining our health. Water is used to perform many specialized functions for the body, such as protecting organs, flushing out waste and toxins, and carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells. More than 60% of your body is made up of water, so even slight dehydration can have a big impact on physical and mental fitness. -.
Symptoms commonly associated with dehydration include: headaches, brain fog, low energy, reduced motor function, poor sleep, agitated moods, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, dry mouth, lips and tongue, fatigue, craving sugar, having dark colored, strong-smelling urine, sunken eyes.
More often than not, when you have a craving for sweets your body is actually in need of more water. Mindfulness of what motivates our cravings is critical, especially during the holiday season. While it's tempting to reach for that third sugar cookie topped with red and green sprinkles (been there, done that), it's worth noting that what we gain in temporary satisfaction will often have a cascade of harmful effects.
Spiking our glucose levels with excessive refined and artificial sweeteners leads to an inevitable crash not only in our energy, but also impacts our overall mood. Keeping our pH levels balanced, ie making sure we remain alkaline as we consume sweets, alcohol, caffeine or other holiday indulgences that can make the body more acidic, is a critical component to keeping your holidays happy. The last thing we want is to take a turn to negative town!
Move your Body
It's easy to let your fitness routine slide during the holidays. But even a little bit of exercise can go a long way. You know you always feel better after exercising! Starting your day with cardiovascular exercise, yoga, and/or resistance training like weights or TRX enhances circulation, increases metabolism and boosts your overall mood. Taking a brisk walk after holiday meals can help reduce blood sugar spikes, offset some of the increased calories and improve your mental health as you enjoy nature. If you travel out of town for the holidays, research local landmarks or places in nature you want to discover and explore.
In addition, yoga can not only enhance your physical health, balance your immunity and keep you limber, it also helps you stay mentally balanced and relaxed. Stress is the primary cause of inflammation, and inflammation is the primary cause of disease. Employing every measure you can to calm your mind and relax your nervous system is essential.
Spend Quality Time With the Ones You Love
Spending time with family is one of the best parts of the holidays, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family members. The spiritual teacher Ram Dass once said, "If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”
Although the people we love most often hold the keys to our deepest triggers, it’s on us to remember loving kindness and compassion - for them and for ourselves! Maintaining daily practices like those mentioned above, or just remembering to take some time for yourself every day to relax and recharge, is a game-changer. It’s also helpful to invite your loved ones to join you in taking better care of themselves. After all, sharing is caring.
Prioritize these tips to really thrive through this season. Maintain compassion for yourself when stressors arise, as they are almost certain to do. We’re well served to remember the words of Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning, who reminds us that “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to chose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
We wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday in every way!