Holiday Survival Guide
We all know that life can get crazy and schedules can quickly become overwhelming and hectic, especially during the super busy holiday season. With all the holiday parties, cookie swaps, shopping, school concerts, gift wrapping and more, our stress levels can not only skyrocket but, by the end of it all, we’re often burnt out and exhausted (not the ideal way to start a brand new year). Even if we’ve mastered the art of self-care (hello nightly candle-lit aromatherapy baths), continue with our daily breathing and meditation routines and even keep up our hot Yoga practice, the holidays are simply stressful. And, while we can’t take the busyness away, we can share some of our favourite stress-busting and mood and balance-boosting tips and tools to help you manage a bit better. We’re going to bet that even if you try out just a few of these easy tips and tools, you’ll not only enjoy the holidays more but you’ll start the new year feeling more grounded, balanced and restored.
Keep reading for our top 5 tips and tools to stay balanced and relaxed while keeping your glow and flow-on during this upcoming holiday season!
One of our top tips to make sure you stay organized throughout the holiday season is to start early and put pen to paper, literally! Invest in a beautiful daily planner, we love this one from Rifle Paper Co., and a notebook that speaks to you (maybe it has an inspiring quote on it or an image that makes you feel serene and happy each time you reach for it). Then, one by one, start adding all your holiday parties, work events, kids school commitments and family get-togethers, into your calendar. Next, start your master holiday To Do list.
We like to create one large master list, then begin breaking it down into sub-lists. For example, a gift list for each person you need to buy for (and don’t forget your dog walker, the kid’s teachers and the crossing guard!), a grocery list for that holiday cookie swap party you’ve already committed to and a list of any additional holiday decorations you need to invest in this year. The fact is when we put ‘pen to paper’ and actually write our commitments down in an organized manner, some of the stress and overwhelm that we feel during this season immediately releases.
Remember to keep reviewing and updating your master list, and your sub-lists, each and every day to keep on top of the changes so you don’t fall behind (and show up on a wrong day to your kids holiday concert!). Our advice is to set aside 5 minutes each morning while enjoying your morning latte or cup of tea, to sit and review and update your lists and calendar. If you follow this super simple tip, we promise your days will feel much more manageable and the holidays will fly by seamlessly.
Looking for glowing skin and shiny hair to compliment that little black cocktail dress? In order to feel (and yes, look!) your absolute best, you need to nourish your body with healthy, whole and nutrient-dense foods, even during the holidays. But that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge too! (Seriously, what would the holidays be without shortbread cookies, candy cane chocolate bark and butter mashed potatoes?). One of our top tips to tackle the holiday season with balance in mind is to follow the 70/30 Rule. (You’ve all heard of the 80/20 Rule right? 80% of the time you eat healthily, whole, unprocessed foods and 20% of the time you allow room for your favourite indulgences). During the holidays, we often switch this to the 70/30 Rule to make room for even more of your favourite indulgences, while continuing to eat healthy a good portion of the time.
To help you achieve this, we suggest you plan and shop ahead to ensure you have lots of healthy foods within reach. Each and every week stock your fridge and pantry with fresh and seasonal veggies, (sweet potato, squash, broccoli, rapini and brussels sprouts are all great winter veggies), hearty fruits (pomegranate and oranges are in season), lean proteins including salmon, eggs and chicken, healthy fats like nuts seeds and avocado and plenty of whole grains. By continuing your routine of planning healthy meals mid-week, you can leave room to treat yourself during your weekend holiday parties. We truly believe that the secret to a healthy and enjoyable holiday season is to always keep this idea of balance in mind. We love healthy meals made with fresh ingredients, but we also love our daily latte, would never pass up our mom’s apple crumble or pecan crisp cookies and look forward to winding down our evening with a glass of wine! We truly believe that all these things can be incorporated into your holidays in a healthy manner.
The secret is not to completely let loose, then wake up in January feeling bloated and unhealthy, with a serious case of brain fog and guilt. If you take simple steps to fit in healthy foods, along with your favourite indulgences, you can enjoy a super yummy holiday season, while still coming out of it feeling happy, fulfilled and healthy.
Be Energized (Stayed Hydrated & Active)
The holidays are also a time when we tend to overindulge on our favourite cocktails, wine and, of course, coffee (hello gingerbread and eggnog lattes!). Dehydration can leave us feeling bloated, headachy and downright lethargic. Not exactly the way you hope to feel when you’re dressing up to socialize at a party! Our advice? Reach for that glass of champagne, candy cane martini, a glass of cabernet sauvignon or latte, but keep moderation in mind, and drink plenty of water!
Most of the year, but especially during the holidays, we commit to drinking a glass of warm lemon water first thing in the morning. The alkalinizing effects of warm lemon water have been shown to not only ward off bloating, but it helps detoxify our bodies and preps our digestive tract for the day of eating and drinking ahead. Keeping a reusable bottle full of fresh mineral water that you can reach for throughout the day is also a great way to ward off dehydration. Mineral water has extra nourishing minerals added to it that help your body remain in a more alkaline state (as a result of today’s diet and lifestyle, our bodies tend toward the acidic state, which can lead to inflammation and illness). One product that we each use in our own homes is the Santevia Alkaline Water Pitcher. It’s easy-to-use, affordable and adds these essential minerals to help our body to function optimally and feel it’s best.
When the chaos of the holiday season sets in, it’s most often our weekly Yoga, spin or Pilates class that’s the first thing to hit the back burner (then, by January, we realize we’ve done a whole lot more couch-surfing while watching Netflix, than hitting the gym!). But THAT’S OK! It’s during busy times like these, that we need let go of maintaining our perfect exercise schedules and give ourselves permission to do a bit less. However, we also firmly believe that there are serious benefits to keeping up with at least a little bit of activity during this season. By committing to 1 or 2 classes a week (or even heading out for a power walk or run a couple of times a week), you’ll not only boost your energy levels to get you through all of those late-night holiday parties, but you’ll also bust a lot of the stress that builds up.
Our advice is to take some time to think about what activity you really love to do. Maybe it’s that Wednesday night hot Yoga class with your best friend that makes you feel super chill. Or maybe you love to go salsa dancing with your partner. Or maybe you can’t live without going to Orange Theory, at least once a week. Whatever it is that you love to do – simply do that! Any type or amount of exercise can have enormous benefits that will help you flow through the holidays feeling happier and more energized, while also feeling more relaxed and calm.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can leave us feeling disconnected from our families and friends, but also from ourselves. In fact, sometimes it may feel as though you only get to see your friends and family via their Instagram feeds! So, this year, make an effort to schedule some meaningful time with your partner, your kids, your extended family and your close friends. Plan a date night to your favourite local pub, enjoy a holiday cocktail with a close friend or bundle the kids up and head out for a family walk to check out the holiday lights.
In addition to feeling connected in our relationships, it’s also super important to foster a connection with ourselves during this time of year. All too often we forget to take care of ourselves and we end up feeling overwhelmed, overextended and stressed-out. Spending 5 minutes each morning (before the other family members wake up) doing some breathing exercises, a quick meditation using your favourite app or even some nurturing Yoga poses can help you feel more grounded, balanced and deepen that connection to the most important person in your life: YOU. By taking these simple steps, rather than the holidays passing by in a blur, you’ll remember the meantime you spent with the people who mean the most to you.
We can pretty much bet that you’ve probably already heard of one of the biggest buzzwords in the health and wellness industry: Self-care. But how many of you are actually practicing it? And, what exactly is self-care? We like to define self-care as any action or behaviour that you love to do that benefits you by reducing your stress levels and improving your mental, physical and spiritual health. For each and every person this is going to look differently (something we like to refer to as bio-individuality!). For some of you, it could be drawing a warm aromatherapy bath (we love these bath salts from Dot & Lil) and listening to your favourite album to close off your day, while for others it may be taking 20 minutes to chill-out while listening to a guided meditation or curling up on the sofa under a blanket with a glass of red wine and an engaging book.
So, why is self-care so important, especially during the holidays? We believe that it is during busy times like these (that can cause our stress and anxiety levels to spike!) that we need to boost our self-care, to make sure we stay healthy, balanced and grounded. Also, most of us spend a surprising amount of time taking care of everyone else around us (especially as parents) and we forget to take care of ourselves. Then it’s no surprise that we get overtired, cranky and burnt out. So, take 10-15 minutes each day to pamper yourself. We promise that by giving yourself the gift of self-care during the holidays, you will feel happier, more energetic and in turn even more giving and generous!
Lindsay Evans and Danielle McGrath are co-founders of Nourish Live Flow, a holistic health, and wellness company operating in Toronto and the GTA. They are integrative nutrition health coaches trained through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and are currently in training to become meditation and mindfulness coaches. Their mission is to enhance the health and wellness of women, men, and children everywhere and empower people to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing. They whole-heartedly believe that reducing our toxic overload is essential in achieving optimal wellness. They have become ambassadors for 3 companies who share this belief, Beautycounter, dōTERRA and Juice Plus. Learn more about their health coaching practice at www.nourishliveflow.com.