10 Steps to Keeping Healthy this Holiday Season

1. Do not be in a daze these holidays. Be aware, mindful and respectful  to yourself and your body. Come September, when the weather begins to get colder and you feel drawn to being snuggled up on the couch, do not be tempted to release the reins too much on the promises that you have made to yourself.

We all have accomplished a lot this year while learning more about ourselves and others. Do not let this holiday season to allow yourself to slip back on your progress! Holiday gatherings are notorious for all kinds of peer pressure, so be prepared and unafraid to stand firmly in what you believe in and most importantly, what works for YOU.

2. This is a good time to deepen your family & friend connections. Especially with the Thanksgiving theme of gratitude, dedicate some time to performing actions which reflect on the gratitude you have for what is currently present in your life. Whether it is a gratitude meditation for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, a heart-felt letter to someone of importance to you or merely a phone call to an out-of-touch friend, allow yourself to be immersed in your heart space and watch how this not only deepens your own spiritual practice but sets the example for others to follow.

3. Come prepared: bring the right foods for your diet. For some of us, holidays are quite easy as we simply show up to a guest’s home. Others will be hosting and most probably be doing most of the cooking and all of the prep-work involved in entertaining. Regardless of which group you fall into, do not forget about yourself!

Holidays are so easy to focus on bringing dishes that you know others would like  and a lot of times that includes dishes with a lot of cream and butter. Perhaps you are on the paleo diet, trying to eat low-carb or a vegetarian. I encourage you not to shy away from bringing dishes that work for you! Not only will this allow you to feel more at ease around the dinner table, but it also sets a positive tone for others to consume healthy dishes during the holidays. Think of your current favorite dishes and how you can twist them to have more of a holiday flare like kale & dried cranberry salad, quinoa or wild rice stuffing and baked sweet potatoes.

4. Exercise is more crucial now than any other season! As the weather cools and our motivation to get outside for early morning jogs reduce, this is the perfect time to kick it up a notch! Especially with the peer pressure around the holidays, we mustn't forget about our health & fitness goals.

Try to surround yourself with wellness-driven individuals and environments around the holidays. Whether it is committing yourself to a yoga class on Thanksgiving morning or starting your big day with a protein-packed green smoothie, commit yourself to some basic guidelines for your health routines in these winter months. What is key here is to stay focused on your goals, yet also allow some space for flexibility as holiday times bring not only stress but also a sense of togetherness with our community. Allow yourself to be present and revel in the gratitude for all that you have while also remembering to take care of yourself through your fitness routines.

5. Prepare for holiday gatherings well. Holidays may be cheery and bright, but we all know that when families get together it gets a lot of people with differing opinions in a small space...which means - know what you need to do to avoid conflict!

This is a big part of our holiday-self care. Whatever mindfulness techniques that have been working for you up until now, stick to those! Whether this includes meditation, pranayama, yoga or journaling; this is a heightened time to commit to your practice. You are of course, welcome to try something new, but with all the changes going on around us, I have found consistency and familiarity are key to successful holiday self-care.

6. Build your immunity for the cold season. Stock up on your healthy foods, teas and herbs to keep you going through the hectic holiday season. Overdoing it can lead to getting a cold or flu and dampening your holiday experience. Stay hydrated with lots of filtered water. Replacing some of your standard water with alkaline water will assist in keeping your body pH balanced and fighting off germs. Essential oils are wonderful as they open up our senses and have powerful health benefits. For an immunity boost, try oregano oil and to calm down the senses, try lavender or rose oil. Be prepared for any big trips with an immunity-themed bag which may include Emergen-C, essential oils, immunity teas and herbs, The more prepared you are, the better!

7. Remember to gift yourself. The holiday season is just around the corner and for a lot of us, that means giving and giving and giving. What’s important to remember is to not forget to give to yourself. Without providing yourself with what YOU need, you won’t be able to give efficiently. This is especially important to those of you women out there who are responsible for shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning and planning for all the holiday festivities.

Remember to give yourself the gift of love, acceptance and self-care. Reflect on what has given you strength and wisdom this year. Was it a meditation workshop? Soulful time spent with close friends? Whatever did work for you this year, gift yourself by giving more time and space to grow, heal and learn in the areas that most loudly speak to you. The more we can be comfortable and humbly give to ourselves, worthy just as much as anyone else, the closer we get to feel our true nature.

8. Eat with grace. The holiday season brings about almost a grazing style energetic vibration around food. Whether it involves mindlessly snacking around the appetizer table or drinking that third glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, all of us are guilty of eating without consciously thinking about the food that we are consuming.

This holiday season, I ask you to invite grace to eat alongside you. This may include saying a prayer before your meal or simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes. Whatever technique works for you, invite others dining with you to share the experience. Observe the energetic shift during and after your pause and notice the subtle differences. Perhaps you feel more at peace or even less hungry. Grace is always with us, especially around the dinner table with our loved ones. Invite others to feel the presence of spirit alongside you and watch the magic happen!

9. Surround yourself with healthy snacks! The holidays are notorious for sugar-filled treats and buttery side dishes. The good news is we have the power to counter them with our preparation of healthy snacks! Everything you traditionally think of on the dinner table has a healthy and equivalent alternative. For example, instead of chips and spinach dip, you can bring hummus and veggies. Traditional stuffing can be replaced with a wild rice and hazelnut dish. A green bean, dried cranberry & kale salad can replace the classic creamy green bean casserole.

Give yourself an opportunity to stay on your diet plan, or perhaps only slightly deviate. Bring healthy snacks with you and don’t be shy to bring healthy dish alternatives. Every gathering could use an additional dish, especially if it is healthy! You will be amazed to realize that others too, are trying to stay healthier and always looking to learn more about health and wellness.

10. Forgive & stay in the present. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult emotional states for humans to resonate in. Perhaps it is because our bold ego gets in the way. We tend not to want to forgive because we are still holding onto the hurt or anger regarding the situation and person involved. I am here to offer a new perspective on forgiveness - forgiveness is the true way to the heart. Whether it is a sibling, a parent, a friend or a colleague, forgiveness is what enables ourselves to heal, learn and grow. We realize that form a spiritual perspective, everybody, including ourselves, is doing the best we can.

A majority of us get stuck in the phase of playing the events over and over again in our minds. This in turn, breeds even more hostility and resentment within us and projects onto the others involved as well. This cycle internally continues to build within us until one day we realize we have not only continued to cultivate these negative emotions within ourselves, but are now projecting this energy onto strangers that had nothing to do with the situation!

This holiday season I invite you to forgive. Forgive yourself, for you were doing the best that you could, and forgive the other person, as they were simply trying to do the same. Really feel your forgiveness from your heart. Try visualizing the other person standing across from you, with your eyes closed, as you have a heartfelt exchange of genuine words of forgiveness. Liberate yourself these holidays with forgiveness. Your heart, mind and community will gratefully benefit as they try to do the same.