The holidays can be stressful enough when there’s not a pandemic going on. Add holiday planning to the stresses of working from home, virtual schooling, and holiday shopping, and something’s got to give. Pay attention to a few basic needs to protect your stores of energy so you can remain resilient and adapt to any unexpected situations.
1. Budget your time wisely.
Set a schedule for each day or week that incorporates work and family obligations, and don’t forget at least 20 minutes each day for yourself. Use that self-care time to do something that “refills your tank,” such as exercise, meditation, reading, journaling, or whatever you enjoy. Make that time a priority.
2. Plan and prepare healthy grab-and-go meals and snacks.
Meal prep is a popular topic for good reason. When we’re busy, we may forget to eat or just snack on whatever is available. Too often, those “fast” foods can cause stomach upset or lead to inflammation and even more stress. Include time in your weekly schedule to set aside healthy snacks and the makings of easy meals – like quick salads or smoothies – to keep your nutrition on track in a way that’s easy and fast.
3. Don’t fear fat.
Healthy brains and immune systems are fueled by healthy fats. Include a few feel-good carbs from fruits and veggies, and lots of lasting fuel from protein, but make it a point to incorporate some great fat options each time you eat.
Read more about feel-good foods that can help you stabilize your mood and go with the flow.
4. Drink water all day.
When you start and end your day with 8 ounces of water, you’re well on your way to getting the recommended .5 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. Make it a habit to wake and prepare for bed with a full glass of water, and it will be easier to maintain hydration levels that dictate mood, keep up your energy levels, improve your reaction time, and lead to more restful sleep.
If you have a wearable such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, pay attention to what it’s telling you about your sleep cycles. Follow these tips to increase the volume and quality of sleep you’re getting each night. You can’t function well without restful sleep, and now is not the time to try it.
6. Move your body.
A little more purposeful movement every day can go a long way toward getting better sleep and evening out moods, building resilience and energy levels. Aim for 30 minutes of purposeful movement that you can realistically achieve every day. Increase movement, time, and intensity gradually, and make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good and keep you feeling good all day long. Exercise really is a prescription for better health!
7. Just breathe.
Oxygen is important, but when you’re stressed, your body isn’t as readily able to transport oxygen. Focus on calming your mind using a focused breathing exercise when you’re stressed or whenever you just need a moment.
If all of this sounds a little repetitive, it is, and for good reason. EXOS trainers and coaches preach the four pillars – mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery – because they’re the interrelated foundation of healthy living. Your mood is dependent upon mental and physical health, which are dependent upon what you feed your body, how much you move, and how well you allow yourself to recover.
Don’t let holiday stress hijack your health! You can handle whatever the holidays throw at you this year, just by being a little extra mindful of what your body really needs.