I can only speak from experience. I can only share with you the things that I do to maintain stability when it comes to the stress, overwhelm and sometimes chaos of the holidays. When it comes to maintaining my health: mental, emotional and physical during a very special time of year, it’s about consistency. I consistently pursue the habits that I have pursued all year that have served me well.
Movement – I came to a realization when I lived out in San Francisco, circa 2010/2011. It was Christmas morning, my family was on the East Coast and the only plan I had that day was to work. Needless to say, I was feeling a little down. Until I realized and thought, ‘why don’t I do something I love doing.’ So, I laced up my shoes and hit the streets of San Francisco in the warm West Coast air and had an amazing Christmas morning run. Never before have I ‘worked out’ on a holiday. Prior to this day, my mindset around ‘working out’ on a holiday was, ‘well it’s a holiday, why would I kick my ass on a day that is meant for rest and celebration.’ On this day in San Francisco, I realized and thought, ‘why wouldn’t I do something I love on one of my favorite days of the year?!’ It was this day that completely shifted my perspective about moving my body on any and all holidays. Obviously, moving my body is not always fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating, upsetting, angering or just downright boring BUT EVERY TIME I am done moving my body, I feel grateful that I did it. I encourage you, even on the holiday, even around the holidays, continue to move your body. My assumption is that although it may be hard to put on those shoes you will feel empowered when you’re done!
Nutrition – 2020 has been a big year in regard to my nutrition and how it can impact my mental, emotional and physical health. In May/June of this year, I found myself slipping into another postpartum depression. It was scary, unsettling and very challenging for me and my family. When I spoke with my doctor, he discussed anti-depressant medications with me, supplements and shifting some of my day-to-day routines. I refused to go on medication again for the depression because of the experience I had with medications previously. So I opted to look at my lifestyle and make some significant changes. One of those significant changes was my nutrition. Since June, my family and I have been eating 85-90% plant-based diet and what I will say is this: my anxiety is hardly there. My depression is gone. My energy has improved. My focus is better. My evening brain fog is also better. I’m not saying this is the answer for everyone, however I am saying that what we put into our bodies: processed food, refined sugar, dairy, meat, fried foods, alcohol, medications etc. all have a SIGNIFICANT impact on the way we feel. During the holidays, the way in which I will focus on my nutrition is to continue with this new way of eating with flexibility and I advise you to do the same. Continue your good eating habits throughout the holidays with some flexibility. Yes, I will eat the turkey, stuffing, my mom’s homemade rolls and dessert, but the next day, I will be right back on my plan that helps me feel my best, because if I can feel good, I can show up well for all the people and things in my life.
Sleep – This is NOT the first time I have talked about sleep – it’s crucial to our health. It impacts almost every tissue in our body and impacts growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. During the holidays, make sure you’re getting adequate sleep, at least 7-9 hours per night. And if you have a bedtime routine, stay consistent with it. Continue to go to bed and wake up at the same time as you have been, especially if it helps you to feel good! This consistency will keep you on track.
These are a few of my recommendations about maintaining your mental health during the holidays and any other time of the year. You can’t be healthy if your mind isn’t healthy. Take care of you and the rest will fall into place.