Even if you love the holidays, it can be a stressful time of year. There’s travel, dinners, parties, gift giving, and more. Time off doesn’t always mean more time, and for many, the extra commitments can actually feel like you have less time to get more done. But that means it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. We have just the prescription to get through this holiday season. If you feel overwhelmed, just remember to take your MEDS RX.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave you feeling frazzled. That’s why it’s so important to carve out a few minutes each day to calm your mind and redirect your thoughts. If you find meditation a challenge at this time of year, practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day, keep a gratitude list, or write in a journal.
You can find fun ways to incorporate these practices in your daily routine. For example, if you send out holiday cards, take a moment and write a quick note of thanks to each individual on your list. Reflecting on why you’re thankful for that person will focus your mind on that person and bring you into the moment. Or, maybe sitting with nothing but holiday lights on right before bed while you reflect on the day, the week, the month, and year can add a festive note to a nightly meditation habit.
The days are shorter and the nights are longer, and you might be traveling or otherwise have your schedule altered during the holidays. That means getting some outdoor sunshine is even more important. But exercise doesn’t have mean dragging yourself to a strange gym, waking up even earlier than normal, or staying up late. Instead, find ways to incorporate exercise into your holiday activities.
If you have mountains nearby, you might spend a day snowshoeing through the snow to find your own perfect tree—though make sure you research if you need a permit and how to get one before you do. Maybe there’s a ski resort you can go to for snowboarding and skiing lessons. Or find some hills for sledding.
Depending on the weather in your area, you can build a snowman, build a snow fort, or have an afternoon snowball fight. Are there light displays you can walk through in your city or a particularly festive neighborhood you can bundle up and stroll through? No matter where you are, you can find a lot of ways to add a little holiday fun with some movement to help keep you healthy and happy.
Between family dinners, office parties, holiday treats, and decadent desserts, it can be a tough time of year to stick to a healthy diet. You might end up feeling like there isn’t anything you can eat when you go to dinners or parties. And watching others enjoy delicious food can be more stressful than simply allowing yourself to indulge from time to time. But there are some tricks you can employ to ensure you don’t veer too far off your healthy path.
Make sure to eat a brain-healthy meal before you go to any dinners or parties. That way you know that you’ll be full and satisfied no matter what is served, and you’ll eat much smaller portions than if you were hungry. Start with the vegetables and avoid too many sugary desserts. If you can bring a dish, make sure to bring something healthy and delicious for everyone to enjoy. And always make sure you have a healthy snack on-hand—just in case.
Sleeping in a new bed in a strange place can disrupt even the best of sleepers. And even if you aren’t traveling, spending time with friends and family can easily creep into the late hours. Losing as much as one hour of sleep can significantly impact your health in various ways, including increasing your tendency to eat more, impacting your workout efficacy, disrupting your circadian rhythm, decrease your problem-solving and decision-making, and elevate your emotional reactions.
Try to stick to your normal sleep schedule as much as possible. If you end up staying late, try to take a nap waking up no later than 3pm and not sleeping longer than 2 hours. Find comfortable sleeping ear plugs and a sleep mask to help minimize light or noise disruption from extra guests or being in a different environment. Try to avoid caffeine after 2pm, minimize how much alcohol you drink with dinner, and avoid heavy meals later in the evening.
This might seem unnecessary. After all, isn’t that what you do on vacation? Relax? The truth is, you might actually push yourself to do more on your time off than you normally would. There’s a tendency to believe that you have to maximize your vacation time and make sure every second is doing something you normally couldn’t do while working or taking classes. And somehow, that doesn’t extend to making sure you get some quality down time.
You might feel guilty carving out time for yourself if you’re visiting family or friends. But there are ways to do this and embrace the warmth of being with people you love. Schedule a family movie night, or encourage everyone to spend quiet time reading together in the evening. If you have younger kids, or young ones are in the house, take advantage of their nap time by getting some rest yourself.
Even if you don’t set aside times specifically for relaxation, you can be aware of how you fill your time. Don’t overcommit or take on projects you don’t have the energy for. Ask for help and assign visitors tasks to make meals and activities easier for you. This may not seem like relaxing, but anything you can do to make your holiday’s more enjoyable will refill your energy stores more than taking on the stress and burden of doing everything yourself.
There are countless ways to take care of yourself this holiday season. Make sure you take your supplements, drink plenty of water, and find ways to take care of your emotional state. If being around family is stressful, make sure you put boundaries in place and stick with them. That might mean leaving at a certain time or only participating in certain activities.
If you’re buying gifts for people, make sure you stick to your budget and don’t feel guilty if others spend more. You might want to make homemade gifts or skip gift giving altogether. The important thing is to enter the New Year with happy memories rather than extra stress.
The holidays are a time to embrace laughter and love. But the added pressure of travel, buying gifts, attending dinners and parties can weigh you down rather than lift you up. If you find yourself bogged down with additional stress, instead of saying, bah humbug, just remember to take your MEDS RX. It’s the perfect prescription to make any gathering jolly and bright. No matter where you are in the world, or what holiday you’re celebrating, we wish you and your family all the best.