….or hadn’t you noticed ? We just returned from some wonderful vacationing, and now there’s no choice but to face up to the fact that the most busy time of year is fast approaching. It seems, then, like a good time to begin to strategize about some good self care, which ultimately will pay big dividends in energy, stamina, and the ability to stay calm and enjoy all the benefits of the holiday season. Begin now to incorporate these five definitely healthy practices. Streamline your self-care so that you can fit it in to your busy life without bending over backwards.
1. If you do nothing else, make sleep a priority. Sleep might be the single biggest missing piece to your health puzzle (and to your weight management puzzle, in fact). Being sleep deprived messes with our hunger and stress hormones, making us prone to binging on calorie-dense foods with lots of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fat. The energy boost from these foods disappears quickly, leaving us depleted and more tired than before.
2. When you make food choices, think efficiency. Eating food that is good fuels for you is your best defense against time wasters like low energy and frequent illness. Choosing foods that give you the most nutritional bang means that you spend less time eating and more tie doing. Nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds give your body what it needs on less. Choose them first, whenever possible, instead of wasting time on options that leave you hungry an hour later and searching for more food.
3. Even if you’re working against deadlines, get up for 10 minutes and walk around the block. Learn to tune into your own personal “I need a break alarm” by noticing what happens in your body when you’ve hit a wall. Does your back ache: Do you stare at your computer screen for just a little too long (without actually doing any work)? Does your stomach feel a little funky? Once you identify your body’s “alarm,” start listening to it! Giving yourself these short little movement breaks when your body calls out for them is a quick way to avoid burnout and reduce stress.
4. Take 20 minutes a week to plan your meals. “Who has time to plan?” you say. Two small things will make a huge difference in how well you eat and whether or not yu move your body. First, using your calendar, and second, taking 20 minutes to plan our meals. Put workouts, meal planning time, and cooking time on your actual calendar. It’s a guaranteed game changer, and will save you time in the long run.
5. Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This “paced breathing” is an amazing way to refresh your body and mind wherever you are. Begin by breathing in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold that breath for a count of 7. Then, breathe out strongly , (as if you were blowing up a balloon for an count of 8. Repeat this cycle 3 or 4 times. Simple. It only takes a few minutes and will bring your stress level down, and your sense of wellbeing up, almost instantly.
Try these five things, get used to doing them, and you’ll be more than ready to sail through the holidays, and enjoy them fully.