The holiday season can be a time of togetherness and celebration, but disrupted routines, overindulgence and a frantic pace can overshadow the joy. Here are six popular wellness practices that can help make the final months of 2023 healthier and more enjoyable for your family.
The whirlwind of holiday preparations can lead to mindless consumption and disconnection from the present. Embracing mindfulness will help you fully experience the joy of the season. Start with food. Savor each bite instead of unconsciously munching on treat after treat. Pay attention to flavors and textures. Take the time to really enjoy one delicious cookie instead of the entire bag.
Bring mindfulness to your holiday shopping. Instead of a frantic buying spree, intentionally choose targeted gifts that are meaningful to the recipient. One carefully chosen present will have a much greater impact than several mindless selections. This thoughtful approach will enhance the spirit of giving and connection.
Mindful conversation creates a safe space for communication. Put your smartphone away. Truly listen to what others have to say. Focus on their words and emotions. Allow the other person to share her thoughts, ideas, and worries, uninterrupted. Practicing mindfulness in conversation shows respect and value for others.
- Balance eating
Sometimes following the latest diet trend can take the joy out of eating. Maybe it’s time to bring balance back to your eating pattern. Instead of depriving yourself of specific foods, strive for balance and moderation. Include fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy (or dairy alternatives) in your daily food choices. By embracing a more flexible approach to eating, you can enjoy the culinary delights of the season while improving your nutrition. Be mindful of your consumption of sugar, salt and foods high in unhealthy fats. Stay mindful that the holidays are about more than just food; they’re about connecting and making memories with family and friends.
- Exercise snacks
Maintaining a regular exercise routine can be challenging during the holiday season. To keep active, work exercise “snacks” into your day. Exercise snacks are short bursts of physical activity that can be done in just a few minutes. Take a quick walk around the block after a big meal to aid digestion. Get your heart rate up by dancing with the kids to holiday music. Set a timer and do three minutes of bodyweight exercises like squats, planks or lunges. Exercise snacks can help you stay energized, even when your schedule is packed with holiday commitments.
- Healthy sleep habits
Quality sleep is essential for overall wellness but maintaining healthy sleep hygiene during this busy time of the year can be difficult. Entertaining, social commitments, travel and unstructured schedules can wreak havoc on sleep patterns. As much as possible, establish regular bedtime and wake-up times for the entire family, even on weekends and holidays. Keep devices out of the bedroom to reduce exposure to blue light, which can interfere with the sleep cycle. Avoid heavy meals and caffeine close to bedtime. Create soothing bedtime routines for everyone in the family to facilitate a good night’s sleep.
- Think sustainability
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainability, and this trend extends to the holidays. Consider adopting one of the following sustainable practices this holiday season:
- Opt for locally sourced and organic foods.
- Reduce waste by using reusable dishes and utensils.
- Avoid items that will be used once and then thrown away.
- Choose eco-friendly gift-wrapping materials.
- Select gifts that minimize negative impact on the environment. Reuse and recycle by shopping at second-hand stores for items that will make good gifts.
By considering sustainability, you not only contribute to a healthier planet but also align with the spirit of giving and gratitude that defines the holiday season.
- Use your breath
Combat stress with breathwork, a practice that can be done anywhere, anytime. Deep, intentional breathing can restore balance and calm your nerves. When you find yourself overwhelmed by relatives or holiday obligations, take a few minutes to focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, counting to four; hold for four; then exhale slowly through your mouth to the count of four.
Try breathwork at night to distress and release tension. A few minutes of mindful breathing can prepare your body for restorative sleep so that you wake up refreshed and ready for another day of festivities.
Brenda Schoolfield is a medical writer and editor who lives in Austin. Sugar, her cocker spaniel and sometimes a rescue foster dog or two keep her company while she writes.