Good cheer goes along with good health. The holidays are a time of excitement, with an abundance of social gatherings, delicious foods, and family, but the holidays can also create additional stresses that can take a toll on well-being. Our members in the Health & Wellness industries came together to share practical tips for reducing seasonal stress to maintain wellness. With the holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to set your intention for a happy and healthy holiday season!

Give the Present of Presence

For many people, shopping for gifts can be overwhelming, a financial stressor, or an unpleasant experience. Rather than gifting items that the recipients may not want or need, Karen Roth, Holistic Nutritionist, suggests, “Offer a day out for some fun. Plan a fun day to enjoy with the people with whom you want to give. Some ideas include brunch and a movie, a day at the zoo, a picnic at the beach, wine tasting, and so much more! Let your imagination run wild! Instead of giving presents, be in the present with your loved ones.”

Make Your Festive Food the Best of Food

Multi Generation Family Enjoying Meal At HomeOverindulging in sugary holiday treats may be a concern if you’re watching your waistline. If your holiday traditions tend to center around food, you might consider making a few healthy modifications to benefit everyone. Elizabeth Quintana, Registered Dietician, recommends “planning and nurturing others, as well as yourself, without food” during the holidays. Sirena Pellarolo, Holistic Health Coach, adds, When it’s time to socialize, experiment with outings that don’t involve eating, such as a hike in the mountains, a walk on the beach, or a deep, soulful conversation with a cup of tea.” Additionally, sugar can also be an added stress that weakens your immune system. According to Functional Nutrition Practitioner, Kimball Willson, “Consuming excess sugar can leave you more susceptible to catching a cold, especially if you’re exposed to more germs while traveling or visiting shopping centers. Boost your immune system by maintaining your exercise routine, making sleep a priority, and eating real, unprocessed foods. When you do enjoy a sweet treat, choose a small portion and eat mindfully. Notice all the sensations you experience and truly savor each delicious spoonful!”

Make the Holidays a Moving Experience

pilatesThe busy-ness of the holidays can distract us from our normal routines, including regular exercise. Claire Maund, Pilates studio Owner/Trainer, advises, “Get your heart working at a higher pace than normal for 30 minutes a day. (Ok, it’s the holidays so 5 days a week is good.) The benefits include more energy, less stress, you get to burn off of some of those extra calories you are eating and drinking, and you get in the habit for a healthy New Year.” Stress-Management Educator, Heather Conklin, suggests, “Try to integrate some movement into your activities each day, even if the movement is not a part of your regular exercise routine. Moderate movement can help to reduce the build-up of stress in the body and put you in a happier state of mind. For example, you might walk to a local event instead of driving, or dance, stretch, or do a few calisthenics while you are waiting for food to cook. Getting even short bursts of movement throughout the day is a great way to alleviate stress and maintain the habit of exercising through the holidays.”

Communicate with Kindness

Catherine Dietz, Healthy Relationship Coach, notes that relationship struggles can be especially difficult during the holiday season. To maintain healthy relationships, Dietz recommends, “Set an intention to stay focused on healthy interaction with your partner. When you find yourself feeling frustrated or arguing with one another, stop, take a deep breath (or two or three!), and come back to the source of the disagreement when the “charge” has lost its fuel. Continuing to “fuel the fire” by attempting to communicate when you’re upset will not help and will likely cause more frustration for both you and your partner. Talking about a disagreement when you are calm and focused is far more effective.”

Make Time for Self-Care

Taking care of ourselves is essential for being able to take care of others. During the holidays, we are often so busy doing things for others, that we forget about doing things for ourselves. According to Michelle Menogue, Holistic Health Coach, “self-care is a much needed (and often forgotten) method of providing yourself much-needed self-love. As you are off on a mission to do so much for those around you this time of year, make sure to save some time for just you. Whether it is a simple solo walk on the beach, time out getting a massage, relishing in a quite sacred space reading or enjoying your favorite hobby. Take some time out for you to stay balanced, happy, and whole. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you!”

Turn Inward

Sirena Pellarolo, Holistic Health Coach, says, I find that when I pay attention to the energies of the season, I become aligned with my own balance and wisdom. The social pressure that disregards our innate instincts of retracting and going within during the Fall and pushes us with the demands of gift-shopping, party-hopping and other traditional outward-facing activities many times deplete and overwhelm us.” Instead, Pellarolo suggests taking time alone and spending time in nature as powerful ways to tune into your own internal energy and rhythms. She says, “Take time alone to allow yourself space for introspection, to take stock of the year, be grateful for your accomplishments, and plan ahead for the upcoming new year. Journaling can be a very effective tool for this. You can also go out into nature and attune yourself with the beautifully elegant energy of the Fall. Practice consciously observing the release of the leaves, the amazingly hued earth, golden colors, shorter days, the cooler weather, or the moist morning air.”

Cultivate Joy

blog-pic-2Merry Woodruff, Certified Wellness and Mindfulness Life Coach, advises, “To maintain health and wellness during the holidays, try to bring mindfulness to your savoring. Whatever you experience that you find joyful– from the site of a beautifully decorated table or tree, to the smile on a loved one’s face, to the taste of one delicious bite of a holiday feast– try installing the experience within yourself. You can do this by taking it in, feeling into it. Be with the experience, breathing in and thinking to yourself, ‘This is joy. This is what joy feels like.’ Stay with that thought and feeling for 5, 10, or 20 seconds longer and imagine absorbing it like a sponge absorbs water. This exercise supports the rewiring of our brain and experiences, and can increase our well-being. Savoring or taking in the joy is a way to hard-wire happiness, which as a positive emotion, has immediate effects on our internal resources by opening up our perspectives, improving our immune system, decreasing negative moods, and increasing generosity and compassion.

Explore what activities make you feel healthier, more energetic, and more grounded during this holiday season. For additional stress-relieving activities, join us at the free Holiday De-Stress Fest on December 8, 2016 from 6-8pm at Hera Hub Carlsbad. May you be well, may you be happy, may you be safe, and may you live with peace!