Ladies, I know what you are thinking: “It’s the holiday season. My needs go on the
back burner until January.”
I’ve observed this trend with many of
my clients (and myself) over the years. Most people I talk to feel too busy as
we go towards the “finish line” of the year. As women, we often sacrifice our
exercise, sleep, or “down time” to fit in all the things we feel we must do.
When we feel tired, we may be drawn to
sugar, caffeine, and indulgence foods to keep our energy up – and they’re easy
to reach around the holidays!
As a woman over 50, you may be
juggling multiple generations of family members, hostessing, and travelling.
You may feel you need to have your home beautifully decorated, gifts purchased
and wrapped, and the perfect holiday meals prepared.
You are likely balancing all of these
holiday demands with your normal demands of work, volunteering, family, or
The truth is that our closest loved
ones will continue to love us even if we have not done those things. Our
challenge is to love ourselves even if we skip the usual commotion!
In the spirit of keeping yourself
happy, healthy, and SANE during the holidays, please enjoy these 12 tips. I
encourage you to try them as a 12-day challenge between now and the New Year. You
can print out this follow-along challenge
and watch these 12 short
(one for each day).
Take A Walk
Now is the time to keep your exercise
plan simple, flexible, and portable. Take a walk at any pace. If being with
others at this time feels fun, include friends and family members on your walk.
If you need to be alone to recoup some energy, use your walk to get your alone
Monitor Your Speech
Around the holidays, I hear lots of
women say things like, “I always eat too much during the holidays,” or “Travelling
is tough. I know I’ll gain weight.”
What you say is powerful! It enforces
these limiting beliefs inside our own heads and hearts, and it impacts the
people around us.
When you catch yourself talking like
this, pause. Refresh, rethink, and rephrase. Ask a loved one to be a “speech
monitor” with you, and help each other speak only the words you want to be
Put Your Feet Up!
Legs up the wall is my favorite yoga
pose. Even if I only have a few minutes, it makes a huge difference in my
energy level. If you cannot do that one, lie on the couch, floor, or bed with
your legs and feet elevated.
Take a break from “running around.”
This is especially helpful if you have had a busy day, and you also have a busy
evening ahead of you.
Use the Rule of the Four
During the holidays, we are often
surrounded by foods we don’t normally eat. There’s more sugar, more fat, more
salt, more oil, more of everything! You may not even care about some of these
foods, but somehow when they are in front of us at a party or buffet, we eat
them even if we don’t love them.
In her book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, Dr. Michelle May describes
the rule of four reallys. I love using this rule for holiday parties – and when
I am given sweets as a gift. If I “really, really, really, really” love it, I
eat it and enjoy it! If I don’t, I pass and choose something with more
Turn Your Phone Off
These days, people seem to carry their
phones everywhere and look at them often. This behavior is not limited to the
younger generations either.
During holiday gatherings, be an
example of a wise woman who is fully present to the day and the people around
you. Get where you are going, be where you are, and leave your phone off in
your purse or another room.
Play Like a Kid and Have Fun
You may have children around you
during the holidays. If you do, that’s an easy way to join in their fun and
games. Children laugh easily and often, and you can join in! If you don’t have
children as part of your holiday plans, find ways to be more playful. For
instance, try some laughter yoga!
Get Your Heart Rate Up and Sweat
Walk, hike, bike, laugh, or move in
any way your body allows. Again, keep it simple!
Your evenings may be disrupted by
parties, guests, travel, or holiday activities. Nap when you need to. Most of
the time, I limit daytime naps to 30 minutes. During the holidays, I have a “take
it when I can get it” approach, and sleep whenever I feel I need it and am able
to do so.
Anchor Your Healthy Habits to
Your “Normal Days”
Even though most of the holiday season we have normal days and not-so-ordinary days. Firm up your resolve when your schedule is mostly typical. Make sure that whenever you can, you “stock up” with good food, sleep, and exercise.
Then when you cannot, the impact will
not be as negative on your overall health. What we do most of the time is more
important than what we do every once in a while.
Be a Nutritarian
Dr. Joel Fuhrman coined the term “nutritarian.” I’ve
adapted from his original meaning. Aim for three one-half cup servings of
vegetables each day. That is only 1.5 cups total. Get a head start by having
vegetables for breakfast. If the rest of the day goes downhill, you’ve already
gotten some good nutrition.
Go outside even if you have to bundle up. If you can exercise, do it outside. If you cannot exercise, you will still benefit from the sunshine and fresh air and new sights.
Take three long, deep, wide, smooth
breaths. Exhale completely. Do this when you wake up, before bed, before
eating, before you drive your car, and before you say something you might
regret. It’s always a good idea to take three breaths. It’s especially
important during the holidays!
What will you do this holiday season
to stay healthy, happy, and sane? Will you do it alone or with a friend? How
often will you have normal days in-between the not-so-ordinary ones? How do you
plan to spend them? Please share with our community!