December is an awful time for the holidays. Can’t we reschedule Christmas to a warmer month? Cold viruses, the flu, the stomach bug and all sorts of germy particles are swirling through the air like evil dancing snowflakes. There is so much to do, stress is at an all time high, sleep is at an all time low, and people keep tempting me with ornament cookies, take-out and red wine. The whole thing is a set up for disaster. My little kids are counting the days in number of sleeps; as in, “How many more sleeps until Christmas?” It is how they mark time. I am marking time in number of gifts bought and room left on my credit card. I simply do not have time to get sick, and am actively taking steps to avoid illness. I am also thinking about sleeps, because it helps me remember what I need to do to ensure a healthy holiday.
S — Sleep. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to get good, consistent sleep. Allow yourself time to unwind at the end of a night, put away the lists and the wrapping paper at least an hour before you go to bed and pick up a book, spend time with your family or just relax. This will quiet your mind to allow you to fall asleep more quickly. Have no caffeine after 12 noon, keep your room slightly cool and dark, invest in a good pillow and count your blessings rather than the number of shopping days left.
L — Laughter. Keep things in perspective. The holidays are meant to be a time for family, fun and reflection. Don’t let the little things make you crazy. An imperfect tree, a missed gift or a blown fuse can easily ruin a moment or even a day. Find the humor. I promise it is there.
E — Eat Well. Unfortunately now, when party schedules ramp up, sugar fairies are flying everywhere and you have little time to cook, it is more important than ever to focus on a healthy diet. Your immune system needs support and your body needs good energy to get through the season. Instead of depriving yourself of all the delicious holiday flavors, which is part of the joy of this time of year, just ensure you are getting lots of the good stuff each day. Increase your water intake, keep raw vegetables at the ready for a quick snack and eat at least three fruits a day. When you can, make healthier choices. Eat nuts instead of candy, drink decaf instead of caffeinated. Save your sugar fixes for homemade treats and avoid processed food. You will definitely feel better and you will boost your defenses against germs.
E — Exercise. I know it feels that you have no time, but try to find some. In the next few weeks, make your intention peace of mind. Don’t exercise for weight loss. Do it for sanity. Just 15 minutes a day will make all the difference.
P — Prevention. Stop the spread of germs best you can. Encourage your family members to wash their hands frequently and to avoid putting hands near the mouth. Keep nice smelling, festive hand soaps around your house. Hand washing, especially in the winter, can lead to dry skin. Dry, cracked skin is a poorer barrier to infection, so stock up on moisturizers as well. Practice safe cooking practices, clean surfaces with antibacterial cleaning products, and change towels, facecloths and toothbrushes often.
S — Stress Reduction. Don’t laugh. You can do it. No matter how chaotic your schedule, you can still find time for yourself, for unscheduled fun and for just breathing … in and out. Sometimes a few minutes is all it takes. Acknowledge you limitations, you are not Martha Stewart. Get off Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Make your own holiday traditions and enjoy them without concerning yourself with what everyone else is doing. I know there is so much that needs to be done, but there is also so much we do that did not need to be done. Prioritize, making sure your health and the health of your family tops the list of priorities.
Focus on the S.L.E.E.P.S. until the end of the year and you will be healthier and happier this December!