1. Don’t forget the exercise!
Oh, my goodness! I hate to admit this, but I hate "exercising" so boring. But, it IS THE best way to put stress in its place. No question! Move your body! Dance, running, lifting, sweating, etc., it all helps our body release endorphins - the feel good hormones. But, don’t worry, you don't have to carve out an hour, or five, each day for the gym. Do what works with your schedule and your interests so that it's easier to stay with it. And, if you already have a regular routine, keep it going. It’s so much easier to keep something going than having to start it up again. Because, inertia.
2. Are you exhausted and living on stimulants?
Give this a try: listen to what your body is asking you for. Are you feeling run down? Take a 15-minute cat nap and increase your fresh food intake. Do you feel like there's too much on your plate? Ask for help. Delegate and let others become involved in helping you create a beautiful holiday. Or, at the very least, a stress-less workday.
3. Don’t expect too much of yourself (and others).
Be realistic with your time and goals this season. Be gentle with yourself and others. And, be kind to yourself when you DO get frustrated. This world is full of human beings - imperfect people who are doing the absolute best they can at any given moment. It's o.k to cut yourself and other people some slack.
4. Be careful with overspending.
Financial health is an incredibly important part of your overall health, and most certainly correlates to the level of stress you may be experiencing. If you can't afford to get gifts, find other, non-money based ways, to express your love.
5. Put your fork down in between bites and savor your food.
Thoroughly chewing each bite helps your entire digestive system work much more efficiently. Not to mention, it’s a much more pleasurable experience to enjoy each bite.
It's the holidays.
You can’t eat too much
That’s what I’ve said about cookie dough over the years. Today as I scraped the bottom of my most recent bowl and sent the photo off to Instagram I realized I’m reading that phrase differently, as in, I can’t eat too much, anymore. Recently, I’ve noticed that my body won’t let me get away with eating cookie dough, or, the other nutrient void things I’ve loved, the way I used to be able to eat them. The problem is this: I’m a health educator and coach and I am supposed to be against cookie dough, but, I have also loved the part of me that can sing the praises of a beautifully iced cake before I tear into it. And then go in for a second piece.
The reality is, I’m getting older, my body is changing and when this first sank in, it was distressing, which surprised me. And, I’m learning that there’s vulnerability in recognizing changes, of all kinds. We’re coming from somewhere that we no longer fit in and we’re heading somewhere we’ve never been.
Some of us, like me, are so eager to throw away the sweet spot, this in-between, this moment of who we are now: in my case, a holiday celebrating, cookie dough eating, health-conscientious health coach wondering who her youthful capacity for junk food ran off with. But, I don’t want to call her back either. I’m learning to let her be. And, I’m letting the part of me that cleaned that bowl, this morning, be. And, I’m letting the part of me that showed the world I’m a human being with cravings be. And, all of these parts of me are being loved and let be by the part of me that is teaching others how to make room for the much less than perfect as we move into deeper relationship with all that is just right with us.
This reminds me of some of the struggles many of us have around the holidays because we want and expect people, places and experiences to remain the same, or to change to fit our ideal and make us comfortable, or to be “perfect” in some way, and when our hopes and expectations aren’t met; or, when we feel the pressure of others’ expectations, our frustration, anxiety, and anger levels rise up in resistance to what IS.
I've been thinking about new possibilities for some of the challenges that come up for us over the holidays:
When someone is asking for the impossible is it possible for you to say no (setting a boundary for yourself), and stand your ground gently, in the face of disappointment or guilt tripping?
When you feel a sense of obligation (rather than joy) in gift giving is it possible to introduce a new gift giving ritual that feels more genuine to you?
When you feel a desire to have family with you, that can’t or won’t be, for whatever reasons, is it possible to give thanks for those lives that have blessed you and passed on, and, then release, as well as blessing the lives of those, you feel at odds with, who aren’t yet ready to be with the family again, and then, release?
Just some thoughts on ways to create deeper joy and a different kind of sweetness for your holidays.
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road does not mean they are lost."