The holiday season is here and in full swing. While all of us might not celebrate the holidays this time of the year we can’t help but be affected by them. This is when schedules get filled with social events (both wanted and unwanted), lots of money is spent, food and drink flow, and expectations are high. No matter how much you love or hate the holidays it is filled with extreme highs and lows. So how do we balance out those extremes? I have a couple thoughts….
Stop making the holidays about gifts. There are so many other beautiful ways to spend your energy. Get creative and do things that feel meaningful to you. Examples…
- volunteer (there are tons of places looking for help….soup kitchen, public school, tutoring, local non-profits, arts organizations)
- have an experience instead of a gift (get together and do something!)
- write holiday cards to folks that don’t get a lot of attention during the holidays (folks in nursing homes, overseas, jail, the hospital, etc...)
- deliver treats (food, cards, etc) to folks who have to work on holidays (fire stations, hospitals, police stations, grocery stores….)
Take care of yourself (and I don’t mean by spending money!).
- go to bed early
- eat cooked foods and avoid raw, cold foods
- take salt baths
- drink extra water
- avoid sugar to the best of your ability
- spend time outside even though it is cold
- exercise (even 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes)
- say no when you don’t want to do something and don’t feel guilty about it
- spend time looking inward and reflecting on the year
- stretch daily (set a timer to remind yourself to take stretch breaks)
- if you have the means, schedule acupuncture, massage, or a fun class for yourself
Stop feeling guilty about what you eat. Even though I think sugar is kin to the devil, I truly believe the hateful things we say to ourselves are more damaging. It is really hard to avoid eating foods we view as “bad” over the holidays. Instead of beating ourselves up about it let’s focus on moderation (or not… go to town on that pie!) and use gratitude instead of shame. “I am going to eat this cookie that was made for me out of love.” “I am going to eat this cake in celebration of ________.” Our minds are powerful, let’s not let a cookie destroy our well being.
Do your best to stay in the moment. When the To Do List is long and the days are short it can feel overwhelming and stress gets elevated. Try to stay in the moment by making a gratitude list. You can do this with pen and paper as a daily ritual or simply stop in the moment of frustration and mentally list 5 things you are grateful for. I find that a gratitude list can also be helpful when preparing yourself for visits with challenging family members or co-workers. Since contact is inevitable over the holidays prepare for the interaction by making a list of their positive qualities and/or ways that your life is possible and/or improved because of this person. Even if this list is short (sometimes very, very short) it can be a useful way to put yourself in a good place before entering a stressful social situation.
I hope you found this post helpful in some way and can have a few more relaxing and gratitude filled moments this holiday season. As an acupuncturist I found it important to write something that might help folks through the holiday stress, but I recognize the place of privilege I am writing from and the people of privilege I am writing to when I suggest people go to bed on time and take epsom salt baths. Not everyone can do that. However, I still believe these things are important to implement if you can. I understand I am not touching on true stresses that come from not having enough money, lack of physical or emotional support, devastating illness, or loss.
Your friendly acupuncturist,