It’s that time of year again; time for eggnog, picking out holiday trees, spending time with friends and family. There are so many wonderful bloggers and resources out there with their own tips for managing your life from a wellness perspective in this busy time of year. I wanted to add my own thoughts about managing your life from a wellness perspective during the holiday season.
While I wrote this article several weeks ago, I’m also featured in a recent holiday guide in Boston’s Stuff magazine. You can read Scott Kearnan’s great list of holiday tips, garnered from interviews with yours truly and other wellness resources by reading the article here: http://tinyurl.com/38ow9jk
· Gift certificates are a great way for you to support a local business you like, while giving a loved one something they value. Make sure it’s a store or a service they’ll use and feel good knowing they’ll think of you when they use it! Gift certificates are also a great ‘green’ gift as they use no packaging!
· Make a list. Sounds crazy, right? Well, how many times do you go holiday shopping without one? Pick the core folks that support you throughout the year and stick to it. If you’re really hankering to give that Admin Assistant something, how about something low budget but meaningful like a natural candle or a cool travel mug with some different tea bags? Making a list and sticking to it is one of Bare Bones’ favorite tips for the holidays.
· Set a budget. Bare Bones doesn’t have a lot of money this holiday season so setting a budget will be key. Remember, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be thoughtful.
· Look for a way to help others and at the same time, pick up some extra holiday cash. Post an ad in your local paper to do some babysitting or dog sitting…why not make some extra money while taking care of your neighbor’s pooch or your friend’s kid?
· As much as possible, buy with cash. You don’t want to have to make a January choice between paying the credit card bill or your rent/mortgage.
· Make an appointment with yourself 3 times a week. Block the time to do the exercise your body needs (as well as your mind). If three is an unrealistic number, pick what’s reasonable.
· Set your alarm 20 minutes early and stretch. Call it yoga or call it something else, but try a few downward dogs, a couple of warrior poses, a backbend or maybe a couple of spinal twists. You will feel like a million bucks for doing it. A little bit, a lot, is better than a lot, but only once a week.
· Make a date with a friend to work out. It’ll help you stick with it.
· Walk (or borrow) a dog and take it for a stroll.
· Swap an hour you might be on the couch watching TV and tune into your local cable provider’s exercise TV option. Slip into your sneaks and do something fun and good for you!
· Let go of the idea that to be effective, exercise has to involve hours of sweaty work. If all you can do is go for a walk, do it. Put your whole heart into whatever it is and enjoy the fact that you’re doing something healthy.
· At the holiday buffet table, pick more of things that are green, less of things that are white. I know, colors? But honestly, the greener they are, usually, the more fresh and unprocessed the food item.
· More veggies, less meat. What am I, three? No, but the childhood adage makes sense. When you’re staring at a lot of food options, go light on the meat, heavy on the veggies.
· Don’t skip breakfast, even if you know there’s a big holiday party after work. This is one of the tricks we play that result in our overeating when the party’s on. Resist the urge to skip and eat a regular, healthy breakfast AND lunch. You’ll be less hungry when making your dinner selections and mentally, you’ll be less inclined to overeat.
· The holidays can be a time when we focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. We want to buy expensive presents for someone; we can’t afford it. We want to have a special someone in our life to spend the holidays with; we’re single. One of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness and decrease stress is to be grateful. I stick a post-it note on the inside of my medicine cabinet with the phrase “BE GRATEFUL.” Each morning, when I open the cabinet to get my toothbrush, I see the note and take a second to connect to something I’m grateful for. Sounds corny, but don’t knock it until you try it.
· Be with nature. I know; it’s cold out there. But remember, mindfulness starts with feeling connected and being outside is a great way to do that. Take a walk, go to the beach (off-season, the beach is a great way to feel refreshed!) take a hike, walk to your office if you can.
· Exercise. You don’t need to sit in stillness to be meditating. Yoga is often referred to as “meditation in motion” because by applying ourselves to the task at hand (yoga, running or whatever you’re doing for exercise) we commit to the present and stop fretting about the past and future.
· Let your drive home from work be in silence. Turn off the radio and just drive. Commit to letting people pass you and moving with the flow of traffic. Now that we have access to the internet in the air, the car is one of the last places where people can’t reach us (that’s only if we commit to the “no cell phone” rule). In that silence, we can find mindfulness and feel refreshed when we reach our destination.
· Holidays can be stressful if relationships are strained. Rather than trying to fix, head into family gatherings with no expectations. Take the pressure off yourself and those around you and see how that helps relieve some stress and maybe even creates some new opportunities for relating to each other.
· Listen and learn. Spend more time asking and listening when you’re with your family than you do talking about yourself. You’ll create a stronger connection, show you care and hey, maybe you’ll find out something new!
· Friends can be the best supports when it comes to our health if you find some that shares your desire for wellness. Bare Bones Yoga’s Women’s Wellness Groups use yoga, guided meditation and a wellness discussion as a way for friends to exercise the body and mind together. Be creative with your friends and support each other as you stick with your goals!
· Instead of giving a friend a gift, support a charity he or she loves. Again, it’s a great “green” gift and you both will feel fantastic.
· Ask for help. If you think about your great circle of friends, you probably have years of wisdom and intelligence around you. Having trouble budgeting for the holidays? Ask your CPA friend. Feeling overwhelmed about spending the holidays alone? Call a good friend and ask if you can spend a few minutes talking. When we don’t reach out, we miss an opportunity for growth and we cut off an opportunity for someone around us to make a contribution. It’s a win-win.
· Make a date with your honey to do something funny. Laughing is one of the best stress relievers around. Watch a fun movie, go see a comedy show, rent a fun DVD or hang with friends that make you laugh. Of course you can do this by yourself or with a friend. It still works!
· Try something new! We lack fun in our life when we’re always doing the same things. My friend calls it “the bubble” and we all can relate to staying in our safe zone. We work and hang out in the same places all week. Pick a new coffeehouse, try a new exercise idea like ice skating or a boxing gym. Go see an independent film. You’ll feed your mind in a wonderful way. Make your December motto, ” Something different!”
Most of all, just enjoy life and have fun!
Have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!
List created by Karen Fabian, M.S., B.S. , Registered and Certified Yoga Teacher, owner Bare Bones Yoga
For more tips on yoga, health and wellness, visit www.barebonesyoga.com and join Bare Bones Yoga on Facebook and Twitter for daily information!