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:

christmas-stress-mom

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.

Advertisements

The Working Moms’ Guide to Surviving Enjoying the Holidays


‘Tis the season to be jolly, right?  If you’re like a lot of other working moms, the holidays can be a stressful time, no matter how hard we try ( or maybe because we try so hard) to enjoy them.  On top of our already packed schedules, somehow we have to squeeze in shopping for gifts, wrapping, decorating, sending cards, baking, holiday parties and family visits.  It can be overwhelming.  Worse, the holidays fall during the shortest days of the year, which, for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, can spell depression.  So what’s a busy working mom to do?  Here are some ideas for not only surviving the holidays with your sanity intact, but actually enjoying them.  I’ll be exploring each one in detail over the next few weeks.

1.  Take care of yourself.  The “winter blues”, neglecting workouts, overeating, drinking too much, putting pressure  on ourselves to do it all:  these things can make us feel awful.  On top of that, we feel guilty for feeling awful when we’re “supposed” to be full of tidings of comfort and joy!

2.  Prioritize your time and simplify your schedule.  When I stayed home with my kids, we made cards from scratch, plates of cookies  for everyone we knew, and gave handmade gifts.  After returning to work full-time outside the home, I knew something had to give.  Also, now that the kids are involved in their own activities, we don’t attend every event. There is such a thing as too many parties.

3.  Make the holiday meaningful.  For those for whom the holiday has religious significance, maintaining religious tradition is the obvious way to do this.  But even non-religious people can find ways to focus on the spirit of giving and sharing love with family and friends, for example by volunteering.  Giving gifts  that have meaning is another way to reduce the commercial aspect of the season.

Happiness is something we can choose, and there’s no better time to focus on being happy and peaceful than the holiday season.  It’s the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our  families.  Tune in next week for tips on caring for yourself through the holidays.

 

How to Really Feel Thankful


With the holidays upon us, we may look forward to enjoying the company of family and friends, good food and time off.  Or we may not.   Extra shopping, preparation, travel and other additions to our already packed schedules can make the holidays feel stressful.  Also, as the days grow shorter and winter approaches, many people feel depressed (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed when we tell ourselves we are supposed to feel cheerful can make it even worse.  We feel guilty about feeling sorry for ourselves when we know we should be grateful.  After all, we have much to be thankful for:  if you are reading this, it means you have a computer with an internet connection, making you more wealthy than 95-97% of the world’s population.  Still, knowing we should be grateful and actually feeling that way are two different things.  So how do we get back to feeling thankful?

One simple technique is to keep a gratitude journal.  It sounds too easy, or maybe too cheesy.  How can writing down what we’re thankful for help when we don’t feel that way?  The answer is to start small.  Promise yourself that every day for a week, you will write three things you are thankful for, either when you first wake in the morning or right before you go to bed.  Try to write three different things each day.  You will be amazed when simple phrases and sentences turn into paragraphs and pages.  Albert Einstein said, “Everything’s energy and that’s all there is to it.   Match the frequency of the reality you want and you can’t help but get that reality.”  This quote explains why gratitude journals work.  I find that writing in the morning changes my outlook for the whole day.

Remember to give thanks.

Keeping a gratitude journal can re-focus our priorities:  if we’re grateful for our husband and kids, why are we spending more time working and less time enjoying them?  It also sets a great example for our children.  When we can articulate what we are grateful for, it helps them to do the same.  That’s important, with Christmas approaching and long lists being written; it can help kids to re-frame their outlook as well.  Why not try it for the days leading up to Thanksgiving?
How do you remember to feel thankful?  Please share in the comments.