How to Stress Less This Winter
The holidays: A time to celebrate family, friends, tradition and spirit. And yet, we often limp through the experience and feel wrung out on the other end. Not this year.
This year, I invite you to look at the holidays with your well-being in mind. The best way to protect your health and happiness is to schedule it. Otherwise, wrapping paper, cocktail parties and holiday recitals are going to eat up every inch of your bandwidth—leaving you with sniffles and sautéed nerves on January 2nd.
And, here are seven ways to stay well this holiday.
1. Calm your mind. Meditation and conscious breathing train your body to pause and relax when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. When your mind and body are in balance, decision-making becomes easier and coping with overwhelming situations becomes second nature. Also, mediation doesn’t have to take long. Even 10 minutes can change everything. Check out my Pep Talk meditation track for free! Try it out here.
2. Practice conscious breathing. Busy shopping malls and emotionally challenging family members can jack up our anxiety. The next time you feel your stress level rising, stop and practice conscious breathing. Take a couple relaxing breaths by inhaling through your nose to the count of 4, holding that breath for 7 seconds and then exhaling through your mouth to the count of 8. Do this as much and as often as needed.
3. Drink a lot. While holiday cocktails can be festive, it’s easy to overdue it. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated. The solution: Drink more water and don’t abandon your juicing practice. Plan your self-care success by prepping your juice ingredients the night before a gathering. Start your party day with an energizing green drink and make an extra serving for when you get home. This is a great way to nourish your body after a night of libations.
4. Squeeze in a quickie. If you’re too busy to hit your favorite spin class, do a speedy online workout instead. It’ll lift your spirits and your buns. Try downloading a few free (or low-cost) apps with short guided workouts (examples: Pocket Yoga, Fitocracy, or Sworkit). If you like gadgets and data, get a Fitbit, which tracks your steps and your sleep patterns so you know how much activity and rest you’re getting each day.
5. Take a cat nap. Meow. Set your alarm for 30 minutes or less, lie down, close your eyes and relax. This isn’t meant to be a long, deep sleep. Short, light naps restore alertness, cognitive function and memory, leaving you feeling refreshed. They also improve your mood and help you think clearly. In just 6 minutes of sleep, wakefulness can be restored and performance and learning can be enhanced. If you have trouble relaxing, the Pzizz app provides music and a guided meditation to help you zzz like a pro.
6. Follow the little black dress plan. A simple black dress is a staple in my closet. And, the same approach can be applied to food. You don’t need much to be glamorous at an event or in the kitchen. Be realistic about how much time you’ll have to create elaborate, labor-intensive meals. Instead, opt for simple recipes with wow factor. Batch cook soups and stews (my Crazy Sexy Chili is perfect!) and freeze a second serving—this will cut your time in the kitchen in half. Check out my recipe section, the easy recipes in this meal plan or my cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen. And if you’re worried about how to handle constant food temptations this time of year, check out my tips here.
7. Get organized. Whether you’re a family of one or many, getting organized will ease your mind. Take 15 minutes to review the calendar. Do you need to coordinate with your partner on something? Any outstanding questions weighing on you? Maybe there’s an engagement you want to cancel or a weekend you want to block out for no obligations. Gather your thoughts and remember how you want to feel this holiday season. Spacious? Connected? Centered? Adjust your plans accordingly.
Think of these tips as an investment not only in yourself, but in everyone around you. Let’s face it, when you’re unhappy, everyone suffers. However, when you pace yourself and tend to your well-being, you give yourself a rest so you can give everyone else your best.
Your turn: How will you take care of yourself this holiday season? Declare it in the comments below. The more the merrier!
Peace & holiday health,
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