The holiday season is upon us again and this means different things for everyone. For many, it is a time to be with family and friends; for special meals and treats; events and gifts; and, of course, nonstop Christmas music everywhere you go because there's no escaping it! It can be busy, joyful, stressful, lonely or all of the above at the same time. There are so many chances to over-consume: food, drink, material things and activities. The holidays can also offer opportunities for reflection and renewal. With moderation and intention in mind, we can enjoy what really matters to us, including all the wonderful traditions celebrated at this time. We can even start new, healthy traditions.
Take a Balance Approach to Holiday Food and Drink
I don't know about you, but I have definitely struggled to balance food, drink and rest during past holidays. It's wonderful to share in beautiful meals with our loved ones but we can also be responsible with our consumption. A great way to start is to include healthy foods in our diets alongside the more decadent and rich foods. Taking a brisk walk after big meals can also be a great time to way with friends and family while burning at least a few of the delicious calories you've just consumed. And the sweets... oh the sweets! They are everywhere too! A little bit can turn into a lot very quickly so it may be helpful to keep fruits (fresh and dried) handy to help satisfy your sweet tooth in between nibbles of chocolate.
Rethink Holiday Giving
There is plenty of criticism regarding the commercialization of the holidays. It can be overwhelming but a shift in focus can make gift giving (and receiving) more manageable and meaningful. Keeping spending limits is a simple way to minimize excesses and get creative. Have you ever considered forgoing the typical gift under the tree and instead giving the gift of an experience? Some of my favorites include tickets to movies or shows, handmade coupon books and memberships. We can also encourage those around us to literally think outside of the gift box by requesting donations to our preferred charities in lieu of objects.
Let Go of the Stress
Social gatherings, activities and various commitments can contribute to higher stress levels this time of year. It is so important to take time out for self care now. Consider it a gift to yourself! Try sharing responsibilities and turning down some invitations to give yourself some more breathing room. Balanced diets, exercise and adequate rest/sleep can keep us from crossing the fine line between gleeful and grumpy.
Connect with Your Spirituality
Maintaining spiritual practices can be all the more meaningful during the holidays. Whether or not this is a time for religious celebrations for you, the end of the year is a perfect time to reflect and practice gratitude and generosity. Try keeping a gratitude journal or starting a gratitude jar that you fill throughout the coming year. Donating to local food drives and volunteering are also good options for celebrating and sharing of the abundance in our lives. Connecting with that which nourishes the spirit helps us focus on what is most important and keeps everything in perspective so we can truly enjoy all the good this season has to offer.
Dr. Adeola Mead, ND is the Natural Choice Network's Healthy Living Content Coordinator. She is a Bastyr University graduate and Seattle based naturopathic physician. Dr. Mead is passionate about using natural medicine education as a powerful healing tool for both individuals and communities.