Energize Your Holiday Spirit!
by Jeanne Rhodes
Holiday season is upon us! It happens every year - the hustle, bustle and attempts at squeezing more time out of an already busy schedule for shopping, parties, etc. Many people find they are unable to enjoy themselves because of exhaustion and holiday stress. Let’s look at a few suggestions for mobilizing the energy and enthusiasm it takes to create and sustain that holiday spirit.
Indulgence vs. Moderation
Delicious treats abound during the holiday season. Try making conscious choices regarding indulgences. Certain foods add life and meaning to the holidays - these you will not want to go without. Others are just there. Avoid snacking on “junk” you don’t want. You will enjoy the really special treats more if your dietary intake is relatively well-balanced overall. Exercise will help accommodate a few “extras.” A balanced diet is your first line of defense against the fatigue and irritability associated with low blood-sugar and hunger as well as the overstuffed, sleepy feelings of eating too much.
To head off these situations at parties, eat something before you go. Also, limit the amount of alcohol and coffee for the evening. Try to reduce the amount of fat by eating leaner choices of meats and more vegetables. If you’ve over-eaten, engage in extra exercise the next day to “burn off” the excess.
Get Your “40 Winks”
Sleep may be the answer if fatigue is a problem. Because of the increased demand on daytime hours, people “steal” hours from their nights. Even a few short nights will reduce energy and enthusiasm, especially when demands on your time are in high gear all day. Also, watch the amount of stimulants - coffee, tea, etc. - they can also disrupt your sleep. Adequate, quality sleep restores your energy and optimism.
Make taking care of yourself a priority and everyone will benefit! Determine if you can omit or postpone any project. Remind yourself that everything didn’t get done last year, and everyone survived quite nicely.
Prioritize those things that have the most meaning for you. Family, close friends and/or special events are usually an important part of holiday traditions. Make time for these. Getting together with family and friends reinforces vital connections that enhance the quality of life and provide buffers during times of stress.
Enlist help with party or dinner preparations and cleanup - try potluck this year and use pretty paper Christmas table settings that can be thrown away. This will allow you more quality time with the friends and family members you love the most.
Energize With Exercise
Exercise can be fun! Walking, dancing, biking, and Christmas caroling are just a few pleasant but good ways to exercise. Choose one you enjoy.
Instead of reaching for caffeine, go for a walk for that needed boost of energy. Too much caffeine makes you feel tired and wired - a brisk walk helps you feel physically relaxed but mentally alert, relieving tension and stress while increasing concentration. Unlike caffeine, it also enhances quality of sleep and offers tremendous health benefits.
For some people holidays bring unpleasant memories - exercise will help reduce feelings of depression. Activities that get you out of the house are especially beneficial.
The holiday season is to be enjoyed. Aim for moderation in the amount of food and drink you consume rather than totally eliminating those you truly want. Make sure sleep and rest are not sacrificed; prioritize your “things to do”; do the things and attend the events that bring you pleasure; and exercise with an enjoyable and relaxing activity - one that will rejuvenate and refresh.
Focus on the Positive
Consciously choose to spread the spirit of Christmas over 365 days a year instead of trying frantically to “shoehorn” everything into such a short period of time. Focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Giving love and friendship all year long is the greatest gift of all!
Have a loving, healthy, and happy holiday!
Jeanne Rhodes,B.A.,M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifetstyle Strategist, Author and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.