5 strategies to create health and happiness over the holidays

Well it’s the countdown to Christmas! Hopefully you are finding moments to enjoy the season and not feeling too rushed and bogged down with last minute details.

The last of my holiday Top 5 series highlights 5 ways to optimize your health and happiness over the holidays.

I believe the key to enjoying the season is to focus on your brain. When your brain is stressed:

  • You will be less patient and more rigid in your thinking (any last minute holiday shopping will add to this state!)
  • You will be less understanding and compassionate of your family’s or guests’ idiosyncrasies.
  • Your desire for food or alcohol will ramp up as you search for a quick fix for your emotions.
  • You may find yourself feeling apathetic and wanting to withdraw from everything.
  • You may get so involved with creating the “Perfect Christmas” that you don’t take time to actually slow down and enjoy what you are creating!

So how do you keep your brain healthy? Use these 5 strategies to create health and happiness over the holidays.
1. Stay active – being active is one of your body’s best ways to off-load and manage stress.  Taking the time to incorporate even a small amount of consistent activity during the season will help your body feel more energized and help your brain feel more positive and present.
2. Eat balanced  – Fueling your body on sugar, fat and caffeine over the holidays is going to add to your body’s stress level, which is going to drain your energy and mood and contribute to your waistline!
3. Get enough sleep – Ensuring you are as rested as possible will help reduce your cortisol levels (stress hormone) which will optimize your immune system, decrease your appetite and cravings and manage your mood.
4. Practice restrained vs. restrictive eating.  It is not reasonable to expect to avoid all your favorites during the season.  Plan to enjoy your favorites (whether on the worst or best list of Holiday foods), but set a limit to minimize the damage.
5. Take time to deep breathe at least 10 times per day.  Take note of how you are feeling or how you are managing to halt any stress hormone surges and light up the reward pathways of your brain. If you are feeling inspired, gather a joy point (read about joy points here) as this will start rewiring your brain to be more stress resilient and open you up to feeling the peace, joy and magic of the season.

December 20, 2011
Revive Wellness