1. Sleep. It’s supremely important. Lack of sleep affects our mood stability, cognitive ability, metabolism and in my experience, ability to maintain perspective. If you’re exhausted, find a way to get the rest you need. Ask for help, ship the kids off to the mall, and sedate your husband with wine if you have to. Just get your head on that pillow so you don’t feel like you’re wearing muddy glasses all month long instead of rose-colored ones. If you’re reaction to this recommendation is “Who has time for sleep?!” you probably need it more than anyone.
2. Eat. Nourish yourself. If you’re bouncing from daycare drop-off to work to the mall to the dry-cleaner to daycare to the grocery store before the sun sets, you need sufficient energy to power your body through the run-around and nourishment to keep you sane. Lots of healthy fats and proteins help do both. No need to make a gourmet meal, try making a smoothie the night before and grab it on your way out in the morning. (See below for a yummy Gingerbread Smoothie recipe I created this week!) Keep your purse, car, office stocked with raw unsalted nuts, fresh seasonal fruit, raw veggies and hummus, hard-boiled eggs, and other simple, whole, healthy snacks.
3. Listen. Slow down long enough to respond to indications that you need a break or a moment for yourself. If you’re freaking out over lost scissors and Scotch tape, put the wrapping paper down and take a walk or draw a bath, but don’t wait until you’re past boiling point and freak out on the next caroler that rings your bell.
4. Indulge mindfully. No one wants to deprive themselves during the holidays, but over-indulging will do as much damage as under-nourishing. Unless you want to put your mood and energy in a tailspin, go easy on the sugar and alcohol especially. You’re far more likely to respond to stressful triggers if you eat every heavy appetizer put under your nose and wash them all down with chocolate martinis. Sugar cravings, binge-induced self-loathing and killer hangovers lead to holiday bulge, not holiday cheer. Moderation is always more difficult for me this time of year, but when I can manage to be selective with my Christmas Party indulgences and balance them out with healthy, nourishing meals at home, I inevitably feel more energetic, stable and a little proud of myself too.
5. Be kind. And gentle. If and when you’ve overdone it, don’t punish yourself by skipping meals or hammering a double cheeseburger. Your body needs the right amount, and right kind, of energy to flush out toxins after a night of eggnog and peppermint fudge. If you went to town on the greasy apps and drinks yesterday, be gentle on your system today. Skip coffee and aim for low – no added sugar. Start with a smoothie that has protein, healthy fats, fiber and greens in it in the morning. Try drinking green juices between small, simple meals like sautéed greens with grilled chicken breast or pureed vegetable soup with a small side salad. The more nutrient dense liquids you can consume the better – your taxed system will be able to absorb and replenish nutrients without having to work overtime.
In a (chest)nutshell, taking good care of yourself and being kind to your body (at least on most days) makes a difference in the way we experience life, and it can make a remarkable difference in the way we experience the holidays. You’ll be far better equipped to handle the in-law landmine navigation, familial expectations and packed calendar if you put yourself in a position to enjoy the things that make all the hustle and bustle worth every cent and lost hour of sleep. No other time of year affords us as many opportunities to enjoy the life, family and friends with which we’ve been blessed. Why not ensure you can make the best of it?
Lizzie O’s Gingerbread Smoothie1 Cup unsweetened plain almond milk
¼ Cup raw pecans
1 Scoop Plant Fusion plain protein (or other plain plant-based protein powder)
1 Cup baby kale or spinach
½ Tablespoon chia seeds
1 Teaspoon alcohol free vanilla extract (I love Frontier Naturals)
1 Tablespoon unsulfured black strap molasses
1 Teaspoon ground ginger
½ Teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender (always start with wet ingredients at the bottom for easier blending.) Blend until spinach or kale is completely pulverized. Enjoy!