If you’re like most of us, this cozy holiday season is filled - to the top - with busyness. We have so many plans - for gatherings, for holiday activities, photo shoots and Santa visits, shopping, parties and more.
But how do you plan to stay well?
I’d like to suggest a few things:
Keep moving. Make at least 20 minutes of activity a priority every day: a quick walk outside, a simple yoga or stretching series, or any moderate form of exercise to stimulate the immune system.
Schedule sleep. Make a plan for the same bedtime every night and try to keep to it. Keeping sleep patterns as regular as possible – and with the number of hours per night that are right for you – is a key to a healthy immune system.
Stick to a well-balanced, whole foods diet during the meals that are in your control.
• Aim for plenty of good proteins from plants, fatty fish and organic and/or humanely-raised animals.
• Eat whole grains in their natural, minimally-processed form. Wild rice, quinoa, millet, brown rice make a great base for a quick stir-fry, stirred into soup for a satisfying whole meal, and eaten on fresh salads.
• Choose lots of vegetables – especially green veggies such as broccoli, greens (spinach, chard, kale, romaine), orange veggies like squash and sweet potatoes, red veggies – red peppers and beets, and good fruits, such as apples, berries (frozen is the best winter option), and mangos (in season right now!).
Go easy on sugar, alcohol and refined white starches. It takes your immune system 5 hours to recover from each dose of sugar from any of these sources, which is important to keep in mind during the time of year when you most want to resist catching a bug.
Remember to breathe. Take regular, deep, cleansing breaths throughout the day. Practice when you’re in your car at a stop light, practice when you’re in line at the store, practice when you’re in the elevator. It is calming and naturally stress-relieving.
Schedule downtime. Plan at least a couple of nights at home each week. Block the time, and make plans to do next to nothing – but with intention. Keep the television off and the computer closed and eat a good meal. Practice calming techniques that feel the best to you: take a long soak in a warm bath, cozy up with a book or magazine, listen to music or make a pot of soothing herbal tea.
Laugh often. Practice gratitude. Remember your blessings. Spend time with a good friend.
The basic idea is to allow for the excesses, within a framework of general good, healthy practices that sustain us. With awareness and attention to our health, we can arrive in the new year - not trying to spend months to undo, but to return with relative ease to our natural state of balance.
I wish you joy, balance, and a happy, healthy holiday season!