The holiday season is such a full time of year…we’ve all got a surplus of lists to make, gifts to purchase, errands to run, meals to cook, and parties to attend. With all of that going on, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making our own wellbeing an ever-lower priority until we’re neglecting ourselves altogether. When that happens, we lose sight of what the holidays are really all about: showing our love and gratitude to those we care about.
Don’t let that happen to you! Here are four easy tips to help you stay on track during the very busy next month and a half:
1. Get Enough Sleep
Although many of us convince ourselves that we can get by just fine on less, most people need about eight hours of sleep each night. Sleep is critical to your physical and mental health. It aids our communication, problem solving, emotional regulation, memory, and motor skills. To make sure that you get enough sleep, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even if it means setting an alarm on the weekends. Make your bed an oasis, with a comfortable mattress and the most indulgent linens you can manage. Give yourself some screen-free time to settle down after a long day. Dim the lights. Forego the television and smart phone in favor of reading or quiet music.
Prepare for your morning by setting out clothes the night before to limit AM stress and choose a gentle alarm for the morning rather than jarring yourself awake with loud angry sounds. There are plenty of free apps that offer gentle music that grows louder slowly to welcome you into your morning. And yes...they really work. Then, in the morning, skip the snooze button. As soon as you hear that alarm start stretching.
2. Stretch Your Body First Thing in the Morning
You can start stretching while still in bed to help you wake up a bit before your feet hit the floor. Sit up and reach to the ceiling, lean forward and stretch to reach your toes, twist side to side a few times then get right up and do a few more minutes out of bed before starting your morning routine, shower, etc.
Your spine moves in six ways: side stretching and twisting to each side and arching to the front and the back. You can easily do all of these movements sitting, standing, or on your knees. No special equipment is necessary. There are many videos online and apps to help you get started. Here’s one I like, and it’s under five minutes long. Click here for a 5 minute morning stretch routine.
3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Instead of breakfasting on carbs and sugar, try adding some long-lasting protein to the first meal of your day. Did you know that a quarter cup of steel-cut oats contains more protein than an egg? Add some almond milk and a sprinkling of chia or flax seeds for healthy fats and you’re good to go! Poached eggs with spinach on gluten free toast are another one of my favorites, either one of these keeps me full until lunch so I have energy to spare with out feeling bogged down.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
To function optimally, your body needs water, and plenty of it. Water increases your energy levels, help your blood flow, detoxes your organs, and keeps you in balance. A good minimum is the eight eight-ounce glasses daily that we’ve heard about for years. Ready for more? Aim for up to one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day.
Looking for other tips for healthy, stress-free holidays? Stay tuned! I’ll be posting more each week through December.