by Kathy Kerber, RN, MSN, MA, AHNC-BC, CHTP, Integrative Health Nurse Clinician
With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer!
But what if we are not of good cheer? Many of us are exhausted this time of year, and we may have reason to be. We’re busy with the daily routines of life, which may include work, kids and household chores. Add to that a list of holiday tasks ― shopping for presents, going to social events, entertaining, creating lists, and scheduling. For some, stress may come with seeing family or feeling financially strapped. No matter how hard we might try to make this the most wonderful time of the year, so often, we just want to sit and relax. Yet that can feel impossible if we have limited time.
When we think of relaxing, we think of things that take 15, 30 or 60 minutes ― like a hot bath, quiet time with our feet up, exercising, or reading. Often, we can’t see a way to find that kind of time. Instead, we just keep going like the energizer bunny until we get sick.
But there is a way to relax, whatever our situation, and it only takes a minute or two. The key areas to focus on are nutrition, quiet time and sleep. Pick any one of the tips below, try it for a week, and then focus on another. Trying all of these things at once may feel exhausting, so keep it simple.
Nutrition: Be mindful of what you eat before and at social events. I’m not suggesting you not eat holiday goodies, but you can balance the event food with healthier choices during the day. Try your best to eat in moderation and don’t feel guilty about the enjoyment. If you would like some healthy nutrition suggestions, go to Kelly McBride’s Holiday recipes, which has some great options.
Quiet time: Here I’m going to focus on your breath. All you need is a minute. Close your eyes and just inhale and exhale. You don’t need to do deep breaths ― just breathe in a way that feels normal for you. All you have to think about is your breathe. Of course, other thoughts are going to pop up, such as the list of things you have to do today, the phone calls you have to make, or the shopping you need to do. If you start thinking about these things, just let those thoughts leave your mind with your next exhale. Remember that all you have to do at this moment is to inhale and exhale. Are you thinking you have no time for this? You do have to go to the bathroom, don’t you? Perfect time! Remember, you only need a minute.
Sleep: With all the stress the holidays may bring, the time of going to bed may get later every day. Yet a good night’s sleep is the best thing for you. So set a specific time to go to bed. An hour before you go to bed, sit with your feet up and do nothing. Often we keep going until we are ready to go to bed. Take time to slow down your thoughts and unwind.
These are just a few simple suggestions. Try just one and see how it goes. Then check back for the next blog. Pat will be going over stress release. Just remember it can be “the hap-happiest season of all” when you are taking care of you.