10 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season
No matter where you are at on your wellness journey, it is important to go into this holiday season intentionally, mindfully, and peacefully to stay well.
Holidays are typically when I feel my worst, physically. For years, I did not know why I felt even worse around the holidays. Last holiday season, I found myself at my rock bottom. I missed out on a number of holiday traditions because I was sick in bed. It was heartbreaking.
Then, in January of 2018, I finally figured out the culprit – my own body! My immune system was literally attacking my own body. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and started on my wellness journey. I know understand that the hustle, bustle, and stress on the holiday season takes a toll on health, especially for those with autoimmune disease.
As this new holiday season approaches, I try to push aside the fear left over from previous holiday seasons, and approach this new holiday season with hope, love, peace, and a game plan. I put together 10 tips for a healthy holiday season.
What good are all of the decorations and gifts if you are not well? Be realistic and simplify your holiday season to make room for rest and wellness practices.
Your family needs you to be well more than they need the lights, glitter, and gifts.
Take a good, long look at what your holiday season includes, and see if you can simplify anything.
For example, are mailing Christmas cards REALLY necessary? Maybe it will cut down stress if you email them, or simply post your Christmas card on social media instead.
There is no rule saying you have to wait until after Thanksgiving to shop for Christmas gifts, or wait until the week of Christmas to wrap gifts.
Start everything early:
- Holiday travel plans
- Holiday meal plans
- Holiday decorating
- Holiday gift buying
- Holiday gift wrapping
Starting early will take stress off of you later in the holiday season. You will feel more prepared, and be able to enjoy the holidays more.
Cut out Excess
We all have a tendency to think “more is better,” but is it?
More gifts = more money spent, which could equal more stress financially.
More gifts = more gifts to wrap, which could equal less time for you to take care of yourself to feel well.
More decorations = more time spent putting up and taking down decorations.
More decorations =more money to purchase them and more space in the garage taken up 11 months out of the year.
“Stuff” can be overwhelming and feel suffocating. Let’s try to cut out the excess. More does not equal better.
Don’t Worry About the Jones’
Focus on your own family, and do not worry about keeping up with the Jones.’
Every family is different. Some families spend more on Christmas than others. Other families hear about what those families are spending, and try to match or top it.
Please do not. It is not worth it. It is not worth the extra expense, or extra stress.
You be you. Let them be them. Sure, they may be spending X amount on Christmas gifts for their kids, but you have no idea at what cost. They may have gone into debt for those gifts.
More debt = more stress = not good for your health. Don’t worry about the Jones.’
Living with an autoimmune disease, and trying to stay well, is exhausting enough. Add in the holiday season, and it could be a recipe for a health disaster. Been there, done that.
Be aware of how you are feeling. Schedule time to rest, and add in extra time as needed.
The holiday season can be very distracting. Be intentional with your holiday celebrations, and spending time with family.
Thanksgiving can be distracting with all of the food and dishes, which are great, but keep in mind what it is really about. Focus on gratitude in November all month long. Make a gratitude list, and encourage your family to find things they are grateful for each day. An increase in gratitude will help make this Thanksgiving the best yet!
Christmas can be distracting with all of the lights and gifts. Focus on the Savior during December, and what He really means to you personally. Instead of filling your mind with gifts and décor, think about trying to serve others the way He did. Read scriptures about the Savior with your family. Strive to have a closer relationship with the Savior. It will make this Christmas the best yet!
Manage and Reduce Stress
The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of year. Keep in mind the negative effects that stress can have on your health. Here is an amazing article on stress I highly recommend reading.
If you have an autoimmune disease, like me, please be extra careful with stress this holiday season. It can creep up on you without you realizing it and trigger a flare before you know what happened. I love this article about stress and autoimmune disease.
Find ways to manage and reduce stress. Everybody is different. What works for someone else may or may not work for you.
Here are a few ways I manage stress:
Create and Trust the Process
Think about and create intentional processes going into this holiday season. Communicate with your spouse to set up clear expectations and understanding.
For example, create processes for:
- Gift buying
- How much will you spend on gifts?
- Will you buy gifts online or in store?
- When will you buy gifts?
- Will you shop alone or with your spouse?
- Gift wrapping
- Will you wrap the gifts as you buy them or have a “gift wrapping” date night at home with your spouse to wrap them all at once?
- Holiday decorating
- When will you do it?
- How long will you spend on it?
- Will you purchase more decorations, or only use what you already have?
- When will you take decorations down, and will you do it with your spouse?
- Holiday Meal Planning
- How will you fit in time for eating well during the holiday season?
- What will you eat on the holiday – do you have specific dietary needs that you will need to plan for to stay well?
- Do you need to ask for help from your spouse – either support or physical help?
The holiday season does not have to mean eat whatever you want / stuff your face / all bets are off. It can mean that, but it does not have to.
I certainly have to watch what I put into my body. It has a direct effect on how well I feel. With that said, I want to enjoy holiday foods this holiday season.
There are many great recipes online for clean holiday treats and comfort foods. One of my favorite websites for recipes is Unbound Wellness. Many of her recipes are AIP compliant.
I am not hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I am bringing a traditional dish to share to each holiday. Since this is my first holiday season with a diagnosed autoimmune disease and eating on the autoimmune protocol (AIP), I did not want to cook myself all AIP dishes. I know it would cause me added stress, which would in turn jeopardize my health. Consequently, I decided to order my holiday AIP side dishes from Paleo On the Go. It is pricey, but I am looking forward to enjoying holiday dishes that will help me stay well, without spending hours in the kitchen.
During the holidays, if you find yourself slipping on your clean eating, and start feeling unwell, simply get back to basics. Feeling a bit lost, and need some clean eating reminders? I have you covered! Here you go.
Make Time for Self Care
The holiday season can be the busiest time of year. With all of the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to let regular wellness practices slip. Be sure to prioritize your health, and carve out time each day for self care.
Feeling a bit run down, and need some ideas for better self care? I love this list of 31 days of Holiday Self-Care.
Enjoying A Healthy Holiday Season
The holiday season does not have to be a stressful time of year. It can be filled with joy, love, peace, and wellness.
Take a deep breath, and soak it all in! Enjoy it all! You will never get this holiday season back again. Make wonderful memories with your family that you all will cherish! It will be over before we know it.
I LOVE the holidays, and am looking forward to my healthiest holidays yet. I do not have all of the answers, but I hope you enjoy my top 10 tips for a healthy holidays. One of the greatest gifts we can give our families is our health.
I wish you and your family an incredibly happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season!