Caring for Yourself During Holidays & Busy Times
During the holiday season or busy periods, a kaleidoscope of wellbeing comes into play. For many people this means time off work, time with family, lots of relaxing and celebrating, and plenty of indulging. These circumstances imply a conundrum of wellbeing for those who adhere to wellbeing routines. Who wants to be left out of the fun, locked out of indulging with the rest of your loved ones, or stress about making it to the gym while the rest of your schedule is turned upside down? So, in the face of all the holidays have to offer, how can you empower your wellbeing and maintain integrity with your body and mind? We’ve got a few simple strategies for you!
- First and foremost: be gentle with yourself
- Your body knows how to and will process excess sugar, alcohol, calories, or a lack of exercise. Trust it. What it doesn’t know how to process is you beating yourself up mentally and emotionally for not adhering to your normal wellbeing routine. Give yourself the space to be flexible and gentle with yourself. It will be that much easier to get back to your norm when the time comes.
- Go for a daily walk
- Ideally, walk somewhere where you are present to nature and that is relatively quiet. Research shows that being outdoors in greenspaces, around the sights and sounds of nature, correlates with a heightened sense of wellbeing. For people who feel socially isolated, being around nature is indicated to have a significant increase in their sense of connection to and belonging in the world.
- Spending time outside has been shown to decrease stress and other negative emotions. Some studies even suggest a correlation with increased generosity and cooperation, both of which come in handy during the holidays!
- There is even some research suggesting that simply by listening to the sounds of nature or watching a nature documentary, some of these same beneficial effects can be gleaned. So, if you live in an urban environment where greenspace is limited, give this alternative method a go!
- Lastly, walking is an excellent way to access physical activity that can double as social time with the family. You get the benefits of exercise on your endorphins and blood sugar levels, all the while incorporating family time into it!
- Stay hydrated
- Drink half your body weight in oz every day (eg: 150 lbs ÷ 2 = 75 oz water/day)
- Maintaining proper hydration is extremely important for a variety of reasons. One of the most well researched connections in the realm of hydration is its effect on cognition. Generally, poor hydration has a markedly negative impact on cognition, especially attention span and motor skills. By hydrating properly, you increase your capacity for clear, rational thinking and problem solving.
- Dehydration has also been linked to negative moods, such as anger, irritability, hostility, and confusion. Simply by upping your water intake, you set yourself up for a much more enjoyable holiday season!
- Finally, water is the most fundamental component of your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is essential for flushing toxins from your body, is a major aspect of immune responses, and handles a massive amount of dead/malfunctioning cell clean up. When your body is managing an influx of sugar and alcohol, on top of a disrupted schedule, maintaining your lymphatic health is one of the best ways to compensate.
- Take the time to get extra sleep
- Do your best to take this opportunity to get all the sleep your body needs, and regulate your sleep schedule as much as possible (go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day).
- During sleep, there are two dominant phases: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep (aka deep, alpha wave sleep). Generally, the first half of the night is dominated by non-REM sleep, while the second half is dominated by REM sleep. It is important that both cycles are fully employed. The best way to ensure that they are is by going to sleep and waking up at regular times. Each phase handles two distinct yet equally important functions.
- During non-REM sleep, the body is doing restoration work within your musculature and physical structure. This includes functions like muscle growth/repair, dead cell clean up, and hormone regulation.
- During REM sleep, the mind is processing emotions and memories. This is when you get very emotional and dramatic dreams. Deprivation of REM sleep can cause you to feel more emotionally unsettled and have hyper emotional reactions to your everyday life.
- For many people, the holidays bring about an abrupt shift in their diet and exercise routine. Getting enough sleep will help smooth out the ramifications of this shift, and make it easier for your body to get back on track after the holiday season. Many people also deal with emotional roller coasters around the holidays, especially as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. Many people are feeling lonely and isolated from their families. Countless others are feeling cooped up and overwhelmed by theirs. None of it is easy, but doing your best to get the sleep your body needs is one of the most impactful tools for wading through these emotions with grace and agility.
Simple as these methods are, they can truly work miracles. They can (for the most part) be implemented by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Getting back to these fundamentals will allow you to maintain a baseline of wellbeing, making getting back to your wellbeing routine in the new year that much easier. Keep them in mind any time something in life throws a wrench in your routine. Empower yourself by maintaining integrity with these integral aspects of your wellbeing.
Be well and happy holidays!
Huberman, A. (2021, August 2). Dr. Matthew Walker: The Science & Practice of Perfecting Your Sleep. The Huberman Lab Podcast.
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Weir, K. (2020, April 1). Nurtured by nature. https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature