It’s happening. November 1st began the downward slope, racing into the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just over a week away. And then begins the craziest shopping season of the year. Holidays can be a time of hugs, laughter, family, generosity, and abundant joy. But it can easily get away from us if we don’t prioritize the positives while minimizing the negatives. The goal is to embrace the holidays with mindfulness, fun, and with balance. In this post, we will explore 7 ways to Have Happy, Healthy, Holistic Holidays all season long.
Holidays can be far from healthy. Between the sugary treats, hustle and bustle, and stress on the wallet, holidays can be downright dismal. Now I am no Scrooge. Holidays are a magical time of the year. I love cooking, baking, decorating, and giving gifts. But the goal is to approach the holidays with care and love, both for us and those around us. Allowing the joy to guide our decisions, not the “should’s” or “must’s.” Ultimately, we can create a holistic approach to the holidays by being aware of how it affects us and keeping focus on what is important.
Holistic health has become more and more a passion for many around the globe. There are even “Holistic Holiday Cruises” where people can truly relax, unwind, while caring for their minds and bodies with vegan or organic buffets, massages, yoga and meditation, and more (1). According to one writer for the Huffington Post, holistic living is about living a “a life that you know will be better by looking at the big picture, living life as wholly and being aware of the impact of your action.”
To approach the holidays from a holistic perscpective, therefore, means being awake, aware, making thoughtful decisions, and taking mindful actions to positively impact ourselves as well as those around us. For some, this comes naturally and easily. For others, we may need some reminders of how to keep a holistic approach to our holiday season. Here are 7 ways to live more holistically during the holidays this year.
7 Ways to Have Happy, Health, Holistic Holidays
1. Keep a balanced diet, eating clean when possible.
I don’t say this to guilt you into avoiding all of the treats that come with the holidays. Allowing yourself to enjoy the foods that come with tradition is important. For my family, we love to make and eat homemade Chex Mix at Christmas time. Plus we bake probably 5 or 6 types of sweets.
The goal is to be aware with how you are feeling when you eat treats and to help offset any negative impact by pairing with nutritious foods. Drink plenty of water, make sure you are eating your fruits and veggies as much as possible. When you have a splurge-worthy meal, try to finish your day with an apple or a salad. Minimize the amount of empty calories you eat during non-splurging. Eat salads, oats, smoothies. And if you can, make your holiday treats homemade, which can eliminate the processed ingredients found in store bought foods and give you control over what you are eating.
Also, be thoughtful about how your eating may be impacting the world around you. Can you try and buy local produce or meats? Is there a way you can minimize packaging and waste? These thoughtful decisions can help us feel better about our holiday experiences and those they impact.
For a list of healthy(ish) holiday foods, check out this article here.
2. Stay active and tend to your physical needs.
Nothing makes me feel worse than when I binge on holiday foods for a few weeks and “forget” to go to the gym during that time. Or maybe you stay up too late wrapping presents or writing Christmas cards. There are many ways to keep active during the holidays, while also prioritizing sleep and restoration.
Ideally, we prioritize our physical and mental health during the holidays. While sometimes we think “oh, I’ll get around to that after the New Year,” keeping up exercise during the holidays helps to promote the flow of endorphins while maintaining a healthy metabolism. Plus, you end up with less emotional guilt and make the transition to post-holidays that much easier.
Take a stroll outside in the evening to look at Christmas lights. Go to your favorite weekly yoga class. Lift weights, do cardio, or anything else that you enjoy for exercise.
As far as sleep goes, it is imperative to keep your body rested to handle the stress of the holidays. If there is the choice to go to bed or stay up for something holiday related, I recommended opting for the sleep. Every. Time. Being rested will help improve your cognition, reduce emotional vulnerability to stress, help improve physical performance, and improve your mood (3). Very important to keep a holistic approach of rest during the holidays.
3. Take breaks and practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness and meditation can be beneficial anytime during the year. But especially when we tend to rush around like busy-bees and take little time to pause and reflect. Cultivating mindfulness during the holidays is important for your holistic health, mind, body, and spirit.
Mindfulness can be defined as “a state of psychological freedom that occurs when attention remains quiet and limber, without attachment to any particular point of view,”(4). Practicing mindfulness can then be about how we mentally approach any given moment. Approaching holidays with mindfulness is about paying attention and being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions while also not judging or attaching to the experience. We may notice we become angry while driving in holiday traffic. Or maybe we feel sad or lonely when we see lovers holding hands. But we don’t need to attach to these emotions. We can simply observe and let them pass.
In addition, taking time to reflect or take a break is valuable, especially during a busy holiday season. Try taking 10 minute breaks as often as you can. Listen to your breath. Sit in silence. Take a hot bath. Listen to soothing music. Whatever helps you calm and reflect. Because lets face it: holiday busyness isn’t worth losing your mind.
4. Volunteer or give to others.
Giving is truly one of the greatest gifts of the holidays and serves to be a reminder of what is actually important. There are many ways to be generous. Generous with our time, energy, money, gifts and talents. Holidays can be a dark time for many people. It can also be a time of greed or selfishness. Yet, giving generously to others during this time helps improve feelings of connectedness while also boosting our sense of love and gratitude.
Find ways to donate, whether it is gifts for children in need, serving at a soup kitchen, or baking for a charity bake sale. If you don’t have funds to donate, there are ways to donate your time. And if you don’t have time to spare, there are many charities that could use extra funding this time of year. For a list of tips to deciding which charity to connect with, read this article here.
5. Limit your alcohol intake.
There are bound to be parties and many opportunities to booze it up during the holidays. For some, this provides an excuse to go a bit overboard. For others, they feel they need that extra glass of wine to take of the edge of stress during the holidays. Whatever the appeal may be, alcohol can wreak havoc on your body, mind, and spirit.
Approach your alcohol intake with these questions: Why am I drinking? How will this serve me? How will I feel tomorrow?
Many times, if we stop to ponder why we are drinking or reflect on how it might affect us, we will give second thought to drinking.
Alcohol generally impairs our decision making skills, dehydrates the body, decreases quality of sleep, and can result in guilt or remorse or worsen existing anxiety or depression (5). Not to mention, it provides empty calories which can contribute to holiday weight gain. So when you have ample opportunity for social drinking, try to moderate by limiting yourself to 1 or 2 drinks, or simply pass on booze altogether.
6. Reach out and connect.
Holidays can be a whirlwind. We get busy, have a lot to accomplish, or might get rundown from work (depending on your industry, holiday season could be your busiest). It’s important to stay connected to friends and family during the holiday season.
Writing cards or letters, sending care-packages, or hosting a holiday party are all examples of how we can cultivate connection and relationships during the holidays. Spending time with the family doing fun activities, such as looking at Christmas lights or playing holiday themed games, are more great examples of how to capitalize on the holiday season, bolstering love and connection.
Connecting with our community or neighborhood is another important aspect of holistic holidays. Get involved when and where you can. Whether that’s dropping of a box of goodies or offering to watch your neighbors house when they are out of town.
7. Don’t overdo it.
Taking on too much is an all-too-familiar theme during the holidays. I get it! There can be a lot of excitement and energy as you start to plan things for the holidays. Just keep in mind that you are not Wonder Woman. Or maybe you are, and that’s awesome. But living a holistic, happy, healthy holiday sometimes means saying “no.”
Don’t worry, people will understand. No shame in being too exhausted for that 4th Christmas party. Or not wanting to bake 250 cookies. Listen to yourself when you feel apprehensive, run-down, or overwhelmed. Chances are, something needs to be nixed from that to-do list. And that doesn’t make you Scrooge. It just means you realize we are all human and have our limitations. Practice being kind and compassionate with yourself during the holidays. You’ll be happy that you did.
BONUS: Shop Small, Shop Local
Giving gifts is a generous way to show our love and gratitude to family, friends, and neighbors. But I challenge you to think about the impact of your holiday spending. Supporting local and/or small businesses can make a huge impact, both economically and environmentally. If you want to learn more about where to shop to support small and local business, click here.
Also, for gifts from a small, handcrafted business by yours truly, check out Raw Ethos, which specializes in natural, pure skin and body care products made by hand, with love.
Here’s hoping your holiday season is full of light, love, joy, and abundance. Thanks for reading and take good care!