Soon Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us along with all the wonderful chaos of parties, family bonding, and holiday food overload!
When I talk to my clients about holiday stress, their first response is often mouth-watering anticipation for their favorite holiday fare followed by stress over the effects that said fare has on their bodies. The second response is the stress around coordinating the complicated amalgam of family, step-family, honorary family, friends and coworkers. Presents or no presents? Vegetarian, Paleo, or gluten-free? Alcohol or no alcohol? The permutations are endless and can leave your head spinning.
If you want to enter 2017 with vim and vigor, now would be a good time to prepare the holidays with minimal stress to both the body and mind. Think of October as training for November 24 through December 31.
With any kind of training, exercise is important but it doesn’t have to be a sweaty, sucking-wind kind of affair. Think of exercise as moving throughout your day. When you move, your immune system works more efficiently, your joints are more supple and your mind is more able to see the positive side of whacky family antics.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a group activity unless you prefer it that way — go for a walk, work in your yard, or clean your house vigorously. The key is to do something throughout the day every day. Put some music on the stereo and dance like the teenager you used to be; get an audible book (formerly known as a book on tape) and walk down a new street or, if you are very adventurous, buy a hula-hoop and move your hips! The key is to move.
Even if you prefer to exercise solo you may want to try classes like yoga and Pilates, which combine movement with mindfulness and deliberate breathing. The beauty of classes like these is that the skills and techniques you develop in the yoga room will help you when you find yourself engulfed in “complicated” family gathering-type of situations.
When you are on your yoga mat bending your body in unfamiliar contortions, you still have to breathe in spite of the discomfort of the pose. This ability to breathe well even when you are uncomfortable comes in handy during the holidays!
And what would the holidays be without endless food? The traditional meals, the parties and workplace celebrations make it hard to not to pack on a few pounds between November and January.
The one thing I would challenge you to do while in holiday mode is to take care of your digestive system by paying attention to your gut bacteria. The organisms in your gut are responsible for how robust your immune system is, and the amount of nutrients that you absorb from food, not to mention the regularity of your elimination.
When you feel bloated from weeks of over eating, eating stuff not usually found in your diet, and possibly drinking alcohol, one of the very first things you should do is start taking a high quality probiotic. This will help your system find it’s balance once the month long party of Thanksgiving and Christmas has subsided.
One caveat however: if you are in the middle of binging on rich, sugary food and drink, don’t waste your money on expensive probiotics, as they can’t mitigate the onslaught of weeks of over doing it. Instead, save the probiotics for when you decide it’s time to get back on the wagon.
The upside of training for your season or merriment is that, if you start preparing for the holidays now, you won’t need New Year’s Resolutions!