If you couldn’t already tell, my theme for the month of December as we move into 2016 focuses a lot on self-care when it comes down to it. We should strive daily to find balance, but the holiday season has a sneaky way of tossing us about a little bit.
Whether it’s finances, food, or family, the pressure is on. Staying on track with the usual routine is inherently more difficult than it usually is. It’s easy enough to say, “Ah, well I can start over next year,” and while it’s more appropriate to say this when mid-December hits, there’s no need to feel the desire to start over in the first place.
Resolutions are great, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to only making them on January 1st. I’m not denying the realms of time, but midnight doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Right now, I’m struggling as much as anyone else. I’m working a ton so I can hand out awesome gifts, I’ve been sleeping in a lot more than I’d like, and the sniffles and sore throat are a total gains killer in the gym. Alas, I am determined to come out on top! We’re pretty lucky here in the ‘burgh with these 70 degree days in December, so at the very least, I don’t dread walking outside everyday.
Here are some of the little (and big) things I’m doing everyday to stay sane during all of the madness.
All the Tea
Tea is sort of a miracle. The shelves in my cabinet reserved for my stock of teas looks quite depleted and sad throughout the summer, and I begin to long for colder days for an excuse to sip on something warm.
There are tons of benefits linked to tea because it encompasses such a wide variety of flavors and herbs. I love to sip on ginger tea for better digestion, especially through the holidays when the meals are a lot heavier and heartier.
Celestial Seasonings holiday tea blends are my JAM. Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Apple Cinnamon? Give me MORE. I also love to peruse the East End Food Co-Op‘s bulk section for fun, new herbs to use in looseleaf concoctions. It allows me to pretend I’m a mad scientist instead of a blogger for a living, no organic chemistry prerequisite required.
Regardless of what poison you pick, there’s something so incredibly soothing about the ritual of tea. It’s an excuse to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everything. You boil the water, you choose your tea, and you dress it up to your liking. I’ve especially been enjoying a touch of honey and goat milk in mine.
Bonus points: it keeps you hydrated! I can be especially demotivated during the winter to keep on chugging cold water, so herbal teas stand in to keep me healthy.
Bad news? Global warming is undeniably a thing and it’s not a good thing. Good news? We’ve got warmer temperatures making it much easier to get outside and soak up the (very little, mind you) sun while we can.
Throughout the year, most individuals suffer from at least mild vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency naturally gets far worse in the winter, and it’s definitely a culprit for the mood dips, stress, and fatigue that might be plaguing you.
Besides good ol’ fashioned sunshine, you can supplement with things like fermented cod liver oil. I also up my seafood intake; during the summer months, I aim for eating seafood 3-4 times per week. During the winter, I aim to eat seafood once per day.
Wild-caught fish is one of the only whole food sources of soluble vitamin D, meaning it’s able to be absorbed by the body in conjunction with a healthy diet. Egg yolks also offer up a little bit of the sunshine drug. If you’re feeling down, try crackin’ open a can of sardines. Sure, they’re smelly, but they might be worth it. Pro-tip: pan fry them dredged in some flour (gluten-free or almond meal if you want to keep it extra healthy).
Like most people, I implement a new routine, rave about it a little, and forget about it within a week. I’ve done this enough times to have learned this: routine is important, and working to keep that routine alive is worth it.
Food and fitness are my everyday. They’re what I live and breathe, so cooking and getting in my workout is second nature. Even if I’m not feeling it, I make the best decisions that I can. For those days, my routine might just be a lower-intensity workout or a quick burst and I might rely on healthy choices that don’t need to be cooked.
With things like my beauty routine, it’s easier to ease up and ignore it. The funny part? It doesn’t take nearly as much discipline or time as working out or cooking food does. Therefore, I’ve decided to be diligent this time around.
I keep it pretty simple. In the morning, I use honey on my face for its anti-microbial properties. I then use apple cider vinegar as a toner and coconut oil to moisturize. Sometimes in the afternoon, I’ll search for a natural exfoliant or mask to whip up. For example. I’ve found that using spices like cinnamon and nutmeg act as great spot treatment with honey. In the evening, I use Fat Face oil cleanser and voila.
Boom. Done. My skin is glowing, and I can go to bed knowing I took those few extra steps to really pamper myself.
Beyond looking good, this routine is a nice way to wake up and wind down. During the holidays, my schedule gets thrown out of whack and as a result, those precious moments begin to fade. Not to mention that the cold weather takes a hit on my already-dry skin. Treat yo’self – it doesn’t take much.
Not only during the holiday season do I feel extra giving; I try to give what I’ve got all year ’round.
Around this time of year, it’s a whole lot easier for me to feel like “enough is enough.” This isn’t anyone else’s fault, per se, but as someone who wants to take this opportunity to be more helpful and generous, it’s easy to pile up my plate a little too high.
While I can prepare to spend more money, work extra hours, and go out of my way to help friends and family, I can’t prepare for the inevitable overbooking, neglecting my own needs, and the stress of it all.
In an effort to find some balance, remember that it’s okay to say, “No” whether it’s to someone else or to yourself. Seriously, look into the mirror and say it out loud. LET IT EMPOWER YOU.
As Christmas day gets closer, I’m moving quicker and quicker. Seriously. I don’t know when the pace picked up, but it’s not always welcome. Okay, maybe it’s welcome if I can actually consider my last-minute runs to Target “cardio,” but I don’t think it’s doing much for my heart health.
My work is rushed in an effort to get everything done and carve out some room for, well, more work! My grocery shopping is more like a game show with a giant clock ticking down. No time for errands, nope – gotta do the important stuff! Taking time out to do anything but something productive has been a struggle.
I’ve been attempting to wake up early so I can physically and mentally slow the heck down. If I have an extra hour or two in my day, I can afford to take a leisurely walk or eat my breakfast in bed. It also gives me a chance to run errands or shop before anyone else is out and really take my time. It’s made a world of difference, and it means I get the important stuff done sooner in the day. You know what that means? More time to go slow at night.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You already know why. If you ain’t getting enough of it, nothing good is going to come of it.
Between the stress, the indulgent food, and the fatigue, my emotional stability is at high stakes during the holiday season. While my job is to keep others accountable, I often fall short myself.
In an effort to keep myself more on top of what’s going on in that crazy brain of mine, I try to write. I don’t care what it is, as long as it can be a part of my daily “ritual.”
It creates awareness and offers me a space in my day to be reflective, introspective, and recognize what it will take to make tomorrow better, stronger, happier – whatever I’m falling short on.
There are so many little things you can do to make big changes. These practices aren’t only helpful during the holidays, but every single day. Self-care is so important in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and even using all the strategies I listed hardly takes an hour out of the day. You come first, even during the season of giving. Remember that! Happy holidays, friends!
Master your instincts!
Alexandra Barone is a healthy living aficionado residing in Pittsburgh, PA. She writes about all things real food with a focus on paleo. From the kitchen to the gym to roaming the forest, she values a good soundtrack and a color-coordinated outfit.