As we move into the holiday season, we take some time to talk about how to navigate some unique challenges this holiday season may present to you. This episode will talk about the 7 holiday rules that are more important this year than ever before including: practicing self-care, gratitude, adequate sleep, proper nutrition, regular physical activity, consideration of others, and focusing on what the holidays represent.
Navigating self-care during the holiday season, Covid 19 edition. The 7 new holiday rules
By: Tricia Stefankiewicz, MA RD
As we move into the holiday season, I wanted to take some time to talk about how to navigate some unique challenges this holiday season may present to you. A typical holiday season may be filled with lots of running around, limited self-care, numerous holiday parties and socializing. This year may be filled with a different kind of holiday stress than what we are used to. Many of us have been isolated for many months and have had limited contact with our loved one.
If we are lucky enough to spend time with them, we may feel so sad that we can’t hug and kiss them like we normally do as we may be fearful of getting anyone sick. This year we may be celebrating the holidays at home alone or virtually or attending much smaller group gatherings than what we are accustomed to. If we are fortunate to spend time with loved ones, it may be filled with the stress of making sure all guests are comfortable attending, the house is clean and sanitized, and the food is protected to avoid any spread of the infection.
Today, I will talk about some ways to make self- care a priority to minimize the already stressful effects of this truly unique and melancholy holiday season.
- Practice self-care: It’s more important now than ever to make time for yourself. With the increased demands of juggling home schooling and work life, find some time to do something for yourself each day to help decompress and center you. This could be something small like reading a magazine, taking a shower by yourself, or taking a walk. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it needs to be something that provides some calmness to your already stressful life. Alone time each day, will allow you to see the true joy this season presents and maybe even enjoy it.
- Gratitude: Practicing gratitude improves physical and psychological health as well as enhances our sense of well-being. It decreases feelings of anxiety and depression, Research suggests that those who practice gratitude have a greater sense of happiness, clarity, resilience and decreased stress levels. The practice of being grateful helps strengthen and maintain relationships, feel the abundance life has offered us, and helps us live a more generous life. It allows us to see the positive impact and value others have provided. Women who can cultivate gratitude have a greater sense of happiness, contentment, optimism, improved immunity, and decreased anxiety. Ways to practice gratitude include a gratitude journal or volunteering. For more information on the benefits of gratitude, listen to Episode 15.
- Get Adequate sleep: Sleep is important for managing stress, reducing inflammation, and controlling weight. During this holiday season, try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and avoid heavy meals close to bedtime and alcohol that may disrupt your sleep cycle. Also, it’s important to engage in some regular night-time routine to help you wind down and signal your body that it’s time for sleep.
- Good Nutrition: Nutrition is important as it helps nourish and feed our bodies and helps maintain overall health of our body. Balanced nutrition helps our bodies heal and grow, fight illness, recover from illness or injury, increase energy levels, act as fuel for the body during exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. During the holidays, eat the foods you want, in moderation. Pick a few foods that you know you want to eat and enjoy them. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day and avoid overindulging in alcohol which may lower your inhibition and lead you to be less judicious with social distancing precautions.
- Regular physical activity: This will allow for better sleep and minimize the typical 5 lb. holiday weight gain seen from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. During this high stress time, it will also help minimize symptoms of depression and anxiety. Regular exercise is beneficial in increasing overall sense of well-being and quality of life in this holiday season filled with the anxiety and sadness.
- Be considerate of others: Wear your mask and sit 6 feet apart at gatherings. May need to limit the amount of people in the kitchen when preparing meals, limit sharing of utensils, have one person wearing a mask serve the food. Be mindful of frequent hand washing.
- Focus on the celebratory aspect and joy of what the holiday season represents: Use technology to spend time with family and friends to provide much needed connection. Look around and see the love your friends and family represent in your life. This is what the holidays are about!
Take time this season to enjoy the love and joy we share with each other. Be kind to yourself friends, I’ll see you next week.