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Checklist for happier, healthier holidays

December 21, 2016


Wow…I don’t know about you, but December really snuck up on me! Now I am trying to scramble to get all my To Do List things checked off AND stay healthy so I am able to enjoy the time with family and friends this month. Here are some of the tips that I have been using to make sure I stay well: 


Psychology Today suggested taking breaks throughout the day. Just a quick 1 to 5 minutes here and there. The purpose? Think of it as a mini-reset button to help S L O W things down, if only for a few minutes. For something that is so small, this has really been paying off! That brief pause is a perfect chance for me to take a breath and let my mind still (or not - sometimes that is much easier said than done and you know what? that is A-okay!). Then, I am ready to hit the ground running again but I find I’m a little more relaxed and a LOT more focused. 


Speaking of hitting the ground running…another fantastic suggestion is keep getting those activity/exercise minutes in! Aside from the usual fitness-related benefits, the increased physical demands on the body generated by activity lead to an increase in neurotransmitters and leave you buzzing with endorphins.


Here’s an awesome tip: have a party or dinner coming up and want those extra endorphins without the post-workout aches and sweat? Schedule a massage! Let your massage therapist know that you want a session that will leave you invigorated. We’ll use a blend of techniques that will still be relaxing but leave you feeling alert and energized.  Can you think of a better way to head into that next holiday party or family gathering? We can’t! (Please note, we’re not suggesting you replace exercise with massage on a regular basis but, as a part of your pre-party prep, it can certainly be a winning strategy.)


Of course, being active and maintaining any level of energy means staying well-fueled. Being conscious about the food I’m eating and sticking to “real” foods (non- or minimally-processed foods) is what really gives me the most bang for my buck. Plus that makes it easier for me to stay happy and healthy throughout the holiday season. A quick guideline: eat foods with ingredients you could easily have in your kitchen. If an ingredient list reads like the periodic table, chances are you can find something more nutrient-rich that will help sustain your body throughout the festivities. 


Oh, those To Do lists I mentioned earlier? They are an amazing tool, not just for making sure errands are run but for keeping myself reined in! It’s so easy to over-schedule with the whirl of events and preparations for the holidays. Don’t fall into that trap (a suggestion that always sounds much easier than it is, at least for me!) - be realistic with what you are and are not able or willing to do. It’s okay to say “no”; there is nothing wrong with politely declining invites or really examining your To Do list. Whittling down that seemingly endless list can be as simple as acknowledging that you cannot do everything, asking for help or sharing some of the chores with others.


Hmmm…it seems like I’m missing something important…Ah-ha! Sleep! Getting your forty winks is another key to staying at the top of your game during this often frenetic time of year. As people get busier, they start cutting corners on sleep because, next to exercise, it feels like one of the easiest places to make up some time. That might work for a night or two here and there but there is still a price to pay. The body needs that “down” time; it’s not called “rest and digest” for nothing! Sleep is as much if not more about rejuvenation and bolstering internal resources than anything else. Set yourself up for health by getting adequate zzz’s; your brain, muscles and immune system will thank you!


Something else to think about: schedule your next massage. Having that guaranteed “down” time on the calendar is a commitment to taking care of yourself and a concrete step towards choosing health. 


Remember that taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give yourself and those close to you. Part of that is acknowledging any limitations you may feel and maintaining awareness of your wellness overall. Be gentle with yourself and remember there is no such thing as perfect in people, events or anything else; that’s one of the things that keeps our world so beautiful and interesting! Be generous with your smiles, compliments and shared laughs; they benefit you just as much as the person you are sharing them with. Ask for help if you need it. Come in soon, warm up, and


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