10 ways to nurture yourself through the season of turkeys and trees

by - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“Peace, it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no trouble, or no hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~Unknown

In an effort to avoid totally stressing out during the holidays (or anytime, really) I made this list to remind myself to take care of me and to slow down to enjoy the special times and little moments. I hope you find some of these things useful as well.

1. Create a simple morning ritual to greet each day. This might mean doing a few sun salutations or it may be as simple as making a pot of tea and choosing an intention for the day. Your intention should be something that will add to your happiness, e.g., "I will eat slowly and taste each bite of my food today." Don't choose an intention that you can use as a stick to beat yourself over the head, e.g., "I will get everything on my list done today!" Consider making a bowl of matcha- it is both delicious and healthy and its connection to the Japanese tea ceremony can make it an extra special addition to your morning.

2. Go outside. Get some sunlight and connect with nature. Don't bring your iPod! Observe with all of your senses: what do you hear? Is it cold outside but warm in the sun? Do you smell fireplaces, flowers, grass? Are you having a snack or a hot drink while you're outside; how does it taste? Can you see lots of plants and trees in different shades of green or autumn colors? You get the idea.

3. Nurture your body. Get lots of sleep. Eat fresh whole foods and drink lots of water. If you're chilled to the bone, treat yourself to a Bikram yoga class, a few minutes in the sauna or spa at your gym (if that is available to you), or take a hot bath at home. Exfoliate, moisturize, buff; whatever it takes to make you feel nourished and refreshed.

4. Get some exercise but don't force yourself to hammer out miles on a treadmill if you hate the treadmill. Try snowshoeing or trail running/walking. If you must use cardio machines, try intervals of higher intensity to up the efficiency of your workout and reduce your boredom (e.g. walk 1 minute, run 30 seconds, repeat). The ready-set-go days of November and December are not a reason to let go of your healthy goals. But, do shift your focus from calorie burning to doing exercise that energizes you and gives you a happy glow.

5. Fuel your body with foods that make you feel healthy and strong. Eat whole grains and go overboard on veggies. Add spinach to your morning smoothie. Have a salad with lunch or dinner every day. Include two veggie side dishes with your meals. Make snack bags filled with your favorite raw veggies that you can "grab and go". Include small containers of hummus or bags of nuts for protein. Get your omega 3s- ground flaxseeds, walnuts, and hemp seeds are good vegetarian sources.

6. Mono-task. Do one thing at a time and focus on that only. Set yourself up to not be in a hurry. Finish one thing before starting another- don't be in the middle of ten things at once. Don't create an impossible "to do" list. Stop everything that adds unnecessary things to your schedule. Cook simple food and clean as you go so you don't end up with a sink full of dishes at the end of the evening. Let your magazine subscriptions expire. Don't sign up for too much. Tell your inner perfectionist to take a hike. Find your boundaries and stay within them.

7. Take a time out. Try yoga or meditation, light a candle and have a cup of tea, go for a walk, get a massage, browse your local library or a bookstore, meet a friend for coffee, read a book that really sucks you in. Don't fill up every minute of the day with "have to". Find, accept, and savor some downtime (even if it is only five minutes at a time).

8. Make a list: "I want my holiday to be..." This is a time to focus on "I want to" not "I have to" or "I should". Eliminate things that are not congruent with your list. Do what you have time for and make those things special.

9. Create a sanctuary in your home. Light some candles. Find one room that you can retreat to when you need to re-center. For me, that is our master bedroom. We try to keep it neat and toy-free. The bedding is soft and comfortable and the decor is soothing and natural.

10. Try new, simple, recipes for inspiration. New flavors can be as revitalizing as a new pair of shoes! Try new ideas like "breakfast cookies"- make a dozen and enjoy them for multiple breakfasts or snacks. See my recipe page for ideas.

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Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you!