We all know when we are feeling a little “off” our game, when things don’t seem to be going our way. Maybe our energy levels are low because we are spread too thin. We’re running from one holiday event to another while shopping to get those last minute presents. By the time we’re through, we collapse with a holiday hangover that lasts well into January. When our energy is depleted, we may find it difficult to regain our balance and, as a result, we end up getting sick.
Maintaining balance, keeping ourselves in alignment, requires sticking to habits that promote our emotional and physical health even during the most stressful of times. The holidays present us with many opportunities to celebrate with gatherings that tempt us with alcohol and sugary treats. Family gatherings, while often fun, may include drama that can inflict lasting damage.
So what can we do? Here are some helpful tips to prevent energy drain and maintain personal alignment.
Mindfulness: I begin each day with fifteen minutes of quiet contemplation, disconnected from electronic devices and social media. This activity has no objective, other than being present in mind and body with no tasks or distractions. Taking these fifteen minutes daily allows me to be aware of my energy levels and emotions. Rather than operating on autopilot, I am able to hear what my body needs. When we don’t listen to our bodies, we are out of alignment and may end up getting sick.
Mindful alignment is the keystone to emotional and physical well being. We are less likely to binge on food and spirits, run ourselves into exhaustion, and get sucked into arguments with family members.
Healthfulness: It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget what our bodies need to maintain alignment and, therefore, good health. I have a hard time turning down my uncle’s nearly famous peanut butter fudge, or the extra eggnog. After all, it’s only once a year, right? To head off any unwanted pounds, bellyaches, or illness I do five simple things:
- I start my day with a half a cup of warm lemon water (one half of a fresh lemon squeezed in warm spring water). It’s the first thing I put into my body each day, especially if I know there will be treats to enjoy. Lemon is acidic (ph below 7) outside the body in its natural state, but once your body metabolizes it – it has an alkalizing effect on the body, critical for fighting things like cancer. Cancer cells thrive in acidic environments where illness can manifest. The warm lemon drink also jump starts digestion.
- Stay hydrated. I consume two liters of water a day, even during the winter when, because of the cold weather, we might not feel like drinking as much water. Dehydration often leads to illness and fatigue. When I’m hydrated, I think better, my energy levels are better, and I sleep better.
- Rest more. We tend to be busier during this season so taking more time to rest is beneficial to maintain energy levels and help the body stay healthy. Instead of an extra cup of coffee, I choose rest. You don’t have to actually sleep to get rest. Just taking 10 to 15 minutes to lie down and close your eyes before a big night, out can help recharge your batteries. Additionally, on the nights when there isn’t much going on, I make an effort to get to bed earlier. My body thanks me for the extra sleep.
- Portion control. It is possible to enjoy rich and delicious foods during the holiday without going “all in.” Just watch portions. When I’m with friends, we often get one or two desserts to share. In some restaurants, portions are so big that we can order one and split it with a salad. Another trick? Eat before you get to that party and then graze lightly while there. This prevents the next day food hangover and extra pounds.
- Move more. The body is made to move, but our comfort zone is to hibernate during the winter months. It’s hard to get motivated when the weather is cold. However, I do feel better if I move more. Walking around the block, taking the parking space further away, or even walking on a treadmill is helpful. Movement helps get the blood flowing and good blood flow aids our overall health.
Emotional balance: When we’re disconnected from what our bodies need, maintaining emotional balance can be tough. That’s why we might find it hard to deal with that relative who always knows how to push buttons. We’ve all experienced those uncomfortable moments when tensions rise between family members. If we are rested and not feeling depleted, it’s easier to see it coming and avoid an emotional holiday blow out. Remember, you don’t have to go get pulled into arguments. Find a way to walk away.
When we are mindful, healthful, and emotionally balanced we are better able to respond positively, no matter the situation. Staying in alignment with our good health during the holiday season takes awareness and dedication. If we take care of ourselves first, we will be able to take care of others.
Let’s keep our holidays memorable instead of regrettable!