How to take care of yourself during the holiday season

Last week I wrote about three ways busy working moms can reduce stress and enjoy the holidays.  You can’t reduce stress if you’re not taking care of yourself, so here are some common wellness zappers and ways to avoid them:


Seasonal Affective Disorder aka, “the winter blues”.  Do you find yourself getting tired, depressed and even weepy this time of year?  You’re not alone:  according to Medicine Net, SAD “occurs in about 5% of adults, with up to 20% of people having some symptoms” and is five times more common in women than in men.  As someone who is mildly to moderately affected, I can personally recommend the Verilux HappyLight.  This is a lamp that reportedly mimics full-spectrum sunlight.   If you don’t want to purchase a light, just getting outside regularly on sunny days can help a lot.  Try taking a walk on your lunch break.

Neglecting your workout The daylight hours are shorter and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to squeeze  in a workout, but there’s hardly a better way to combat stress.  Getting started is the hard part, but you know it’ll make you feel better, right?  If you can’t commit to an hour or even a half-hour, why not start small?  Here’s a workout that claims to “hit every muscle in five minutes”.  Surely you can do five minutes, right?  I have a video workout series for the exercise ball that’s broken into 10-minute segments.  I find it’s easy to tell myself I only have to do one segment, and then it feels good to get my body moving so I end up doing at least do two or three segments.

Blowing your diet:  I wholeheartedly agree (as would my husband and kids) that it wouldn’t be the holidays without the goodies.  It’s definitely ok to cheat a little, but we all know how bad we feel when we eat way too much rich food at a party and end up gaining the “December Five”.  A couple of years ago I read a tip that  said to fill up a little on healthy snacks (like raw veggies) before heading to a party,  so you’re  not  so hungry when you get there.  Another tip I learned is to alternate sipping glasses of water with whatever you’re drinking at the party.  It keeps you hydrated and fuller, and helps you avoid any embarrassing over-indulgences.

So, get out and enjoy some sunshine, get your body moving and eat your veggies!  What are your tips and tricks for taking care of yourself over the holidays?

Next week:  Simplify and stick to a schedule to avoid holiday stress.


How do you recharge your batteries?

Starting my own business has been rewarding, exhilarating, and yes, frustrating and discouraging.  After a spate of “beginners’ luck”, the reality of starting a new business (as we recover from the recession) set in.  I’ve never been a patient person and  have quit many times before, so this is presenting some new challenges.  However, unlike earlier endeavors, this is one I wholeheartedly believe in, so I know that I owe it to myself not to give up.  I’m learning how to stay positive and focused on my goals when every cell in my body wants to lie down and cry.  Most of the time, this  is easier than it’s ever been, in part because I listen to my affirmations every night, I look at my “dream board” to remind me of my goals.   Also, I absolutely love what I’m doing.  Still, I’m human, and learning to stretch, challenge and make myself vulnerable like never before.  What do I do when I’m so discouraged  that nothing else seems to make me feel better?  I do the one thing that I know always helps:  go for a hike in the woods.

Whether I’m depressed, nervous, angry or confused, the brisk hiking releases tension.  The smell of the woods is my aromatherapy, and the sights, ever-changing with the seasons, distract me from unpleasant thoughts.  The blessed sound of silence is my meditation.

Though I know that to achieve my goals, I must stay focused on putting my thoughts into action, sometimes, when I hit a brick wall, this is the only way to back up and start going in the right direction again.  I know that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  But remember the Energizer Bunny commercial?  Even though he kept going and going, what the commercial didn’t show was that eventually his batteries, like all batteries, had to be recharged or replaced.  Hiking is how I recharge my batteries when they’re on empty.

It’s different for everyone.  People have told me they don’t feel right when they’re not taking photos, drawing, journaling, exercising.  It doesn’t matter what your recharge activity is, just that you have one, and more importantly, that you use it when you need it.  What do you instinctively know will make you feel better, even if you are thinking that you don’t have time to do it?  Sometimes, when nothing seems to be going right, you don’t have time NOT to recharge your batteries.

Try it next time you feel yourself spiraling down  into negativity.  Promise yourself that you will stop and do that one activity that you know will refocus you.  Imagine what you can achieve when you are staying positive and focused on your goals!