10 Tips for a Peaceful, Healthy Holiday Season (December 2019 #WehlChallenge)

December 5, 2019

December is here! The most wonderful time of the year? Yes, quite possibly… Let’s be real though, it can also be a challenge to maintain our healthy habits during this busy season, not to mention the holiday stressors, irregular routines and tempting treats. All of this leads us to our #WehlChallenge for December: Share what your wehlness is and how you’re keeping the peace of the season in your day.

Need a little inspiration to get started tackling the challenge?

Here are 10 tips to help you have a peaceful, healthy December:

1. Slow down and pause

Perhaps the hardest tip to implement but the most important. Refuse to make your holiday all “hustle and bustle” and instead, intentionally choose a mindset that will help you keep the “peace, joy and love” of the season in your day. In between all the shopping, baking, cleaning, travelling, visiting and everything else you need to do, don’t forget to take little moments in your day to stop, take a deep breath, drop your shoulders and “just be”. In other words, slow down and focus on the present (over the presents…).

 2. Do a year-end review

Book 15-30 minutes into your calendar for a personal year-end review. You do it in your work-life, so why not do it for your wellness to? Schedule time to review what has happened this year including your successes, your failures, and your “still to dos”. Remind yourself of your wellness goals and reflect on the ups and downs of your wellness journey over the past year. Sometimes, we may think “it’s too late for this year” but the truth is there’s still time to make progress and knock off a couple of goals or start a new habit you’ve been meaning to. Yes, it may be more difficult due to the busyness of the season but, you may also have some free time if you’re taking vacation or your regular activities and commitments are on hiatus until next year.

So, go ahead and set aside a short window of time to reflect. You’ll get a general picture of where you’re at and where you’d like to go which will be a motivator to help you travel through December mindful of wellness.

3. Pace yourself with the holiday gatherings and hosting duties

Holiday parties, gatherings and catching up with family and friends is a big part of what this time of year is all about. Hosting is a great chance to show kindness to others and invest in relationships but it can get stressful at times. If hosting tends to leave you drained, be sure to look at your calendar and try not to book two invitations back to back. Also, be sure to take it easy on yourself and eliminate any perfectionist tendencies. Remind yourself, it’s about the time together and not about the perfect food, magazine-worthy decor or anything else.

We’re social beings and we need social time – it’s part of social wellness after-all. Just try to avoid over-filling your “social cup”, by keeping a couple of completely unscheduled “nothing” days in your calendar just for you. In fact, book those in right now, too!

4. Incorporate wellness into your holiday meet-ups

If you’re planning a meet-up with friends, try making it an active one. This works any time of year of course but December can be quite sedentary – sit to drive to a friend’s house, sit to eat, sit to drive home, sit to unwind with a show, and then it’s time to lay down for some sleep! You could plan a double date walking around a Christmas Market or outdoor family activities including ice skating, skiing or a winter nature walk. Maybe it’s even just a little Christmas shopping with friends getting some movement as you walk around the mall.

If it’s dinner, do a bit of research and be the one to suggest a healthy restaurant. Wehl is a great place to start getting some ideas and inspiration from others about healthy activities, restaurants, cafes and more.

5. Plan your holiday treats before you go

First off, it is possible to celebrate and still eat healthy. If you look deep into what the season is truly about, it’s much more than just food. It doesn’t mean you have to “indulge” and go off your healthy diet – especially if you’ve been working hard all year to heal or just starting to adopt a new gluten-free diet or other diet considerations. Sure, some people might judge you for having the “healthy plate” at the table, but they’re not in charge of you, so just smile and always do what works for you and your health.

Try deciding ahead of time what your version of “indulge” will be in order to have the “holidays be happy” for you (not others, you!). It’s usually possible to guess what most of the treats will be, so pick a treat or two ahead of time that you really, really love and when you get to the event stick to your top choices and savour them. It’s a smart proactive move, along the lines of going to the grocery store with a list versus just going, “winging it”, and picking up things you don’t need. And on that note, just like you shouldn’t go to the grocery store hungry, you really shouldn’t head to the family gathering starving either. Danger!

Holistic Nutritionist, Andrea Brown, offers some advice to consider before you head to a gathering:

A little tip I like to use is to eat a little fat or protein rich snack before a dinner.  It tides me over and stops me from eating too many appies and dinner. When our blood sugar dips low, we want food and we want it now! It’s hard to think when you’re hungry (or hangry) so try a boiled egg, a piece of avocado toast or the various energy ball recipes … before a gathering, you’ll feel better, trust me! Plus, don’t forget to drink some water in between those beverages

As for how to approach the dessert table when you’re at a holiday event, Holistic Nutritionist, Natalie Pupo, offers her advice :

I would tell you to approach the dessert table with caution! As tempting and adorable as these Christmas baked goods are, beware as most are full of refined flours and sugars that will definitely send your blood sugar to the moon!I always like to suggest bringing one or two homemade sugar-free healthy desserts with you to share at holiday gatherings. This way you know you won’t have to deprive yourself and if you do add a small piece of a sugar-filled cookie to your plate at least it was only a very minimal amount.

6. Take steps to prevent getting caught by a nasty cold/flu

It is practically inevitable that you’re going to be exposed to some nasty cold and flu germs over the holidays, so, think prevention! Holistic Nutritionist, Stephanie Kay, provides some great ideas to help avoid getting sick while we’re travelling:

I stick to the basics. I do my best to keep hydrated with lots of water, try to keep my veggie intake as high as possible, and keep my sugar intake to a minimum. Sugar is really hard on the immune system; it can suppress it up to hours after consumption, so keeping it to a minimum is ideal to avoid getting sick. Depending on where I am traveling I may also pack probiotics or activated charcoal which is great for stomach bugs or food poisoning.

Another helpful reminder to help prevent getting a cold/flu this season comes from Naturopathic Doctor Janessa Chambers, who says:

Yes, you do want to minimize your exposure and limit your risk for contracting illness, but more importantly, it’s about your own susceptibility and keeping your system strong!  It means honouring those foundations to health and wellness like proper nutrition, sleep, movement, and mindfulness, and supporting your immune system in doing what it does so well! 

And if you do end up getting sick, Dr. Janessa Chambers, ND, also shares with us a few strategies including:

Although it’s often inconvenient timing, listen to your body, and rest when you are ill.  Foregoing slowing down, can provoke other complications, or cause the illness to linger.  Get sick well.

7. Don’t get sucked in

Big sales, buy one get one, free gifts, free wrapping, free shipping, more loyalty points – there are so many new and shiny things calling for your attention this time of year, all with serious marketing tactics behind it to wear you down. A friendly reminder – don’t get sucked into the consumption that can accompany the holiday season and try to maintain good financial wellness.

Remember, the memories of time and experiences with friends and family last far longer than anything you can buy with your credit card and wrap up. Homemade gifts are a great option too – you can reap the mind wehlness benefits of spending some time getting creative and crafty and you’ll have a unique, thoughtful gift for someone you love.

8. Minimize stress where possible and keep your stress management techniques top of mind

You know prolonged stress can be destructive to health, but avoiding and managing stress is far easier said than done! It can be helpful to remember that while you can’t control everything that happens, your perception of and reaction to life events can make all the difference. For example, think about the long lines at the mall during Christmas shopping, you could (a) perceive them as frustrating and begin to think of all the things you could be doing with the two minutes you’re wasting in line, in between muttering about the terrible, must-be-new staff. Or, (b) you could put on your “patient hat”, choose to be grateful that you’re out of the house, and take the two minutes to pause and zone in on the Christmas music in the background. Same situation, two different reactions, leading to different outcomes.

While it may not be easy, try to not just sing the lyrics from Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – “Let your heart be light. From now on your troubles will be out of sight” – do your best to put it into action. This especially goes for the “little stressors” of the holidays including traffic jams, busy airports and unpredictable weather that ruins your plans.

The sources, causes, and effects of stress are different for each person, so it’s important to spend time identifying your particular sources of stress and then choosing approaches to eliminate stressors where possible and adopt strategies to manage them.

Holistic Nutritionist, Carley Nadine, acknowledges it’s not unusual to feel depressed or anxious during the holiday season and offers a few of her tips for reducing holiday stress: 

  • Wash the Dishes: That’s right. Recent research indicates that doing the dishes can have a calming effect. The trick is to pay attention to the minute details of washing the dishes. This can bring you back to the present moment. Notice how the water feels on your skin and its temperature. Smell the soap. Pay attention to each plate, its shape and feel. Thoroughly engage your senses in the task. You’ll end up with clean dishes and a clearer mind.

  • Take a break: If situations get overwhelming, take a small, five-minute break. Removing yourself from the situation and practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress.

  • Walk around the block. Sit alone in your room. If the only place to escape is the restroom — go for it. Take deep breaths. Focus on colors, sights and sounds.

9. Make it a holistic holiday

At Wehl, we take a holistic approach to wellness and define our wehlness using 6 components – Body, Mind, Spiritual, Work, Enviro, and Social.  We need to nourish all of our components in order to truly enhance our quality of life, both in the short term and the long term. Over the holidays, try to keep each of the components in mind and make some time for each. For example, be sure to get some exercise and sweat a little; it’ll help your immune system and your mood. You could make time for a 5 minute meditation each day and try some brain fitness activities such as a puzzle or a board game with friends. Get outdoors daily if possible to reap the benefits of nature and of course, find some work-life balance by taking a full break from your regular work (read: put the “out of office” on and truly be out).

To help you brainstorm a few holistic wellness activities, you can find examples of what each wehlness component includes here. The “My Wehlness” section on the Wehl platform is a great place to help you think about and organize what each of the components means to you.

10. Talk about wellness to find out what helps others

Social support, whether it’s online or offline, is SO important for wellness. When you’re catching up with various friends and family members over the season, ask them about their plans and what helps them ensure they get a restful break in between the chaos of the season. People have great tips, tricks and ideas that will encourage you. Sometimes you just have to get real about the struggle with each other and ask! Of course, you’ll need to use your own judgement about whether to apply any, but just having the conversation will be good for your wellness.

Be sure to share your own thoughts and talk about your own experiences. While you’re at it, check in with each other about health and wellbeing over the year. Find out what others have been trying or doing to improve and care for their wellness.

For example, you could ask:

  • What have you been doing to keep active this year?
  • Have you learned any new, easy, healthy recipes this year?
  • Have you ever tried a sugar-free diet?
  • Got any health goals or resolutions for the new year?

If we truly want to connect and build relationships with each other, wellness should always be part of the conversation. There is nothing more important and there is no better way to show love and kindness this season (and all year around) than to take an interest in and care about the health and wellbeing of someone else.

Here are a few more helpful insights and holiday advice from Wellness Professionals:

 

Now, it’s time to take on the Challenge. Share what your wehlness is and how you’re keeping the peace of the season in your day.

How to Enter our December 2019 #Wehlchallenge:

  1. Take the challenge and enjoy!
  2. Login to Wehl (www.wehl.com) on your mobile or desktop. If you aren’t a Wehl member yet, it’s free and easy to join. Head over to Wehl.com!
  3. Make a post to share about your experience. Be sure to include #WehlChallenge in the text.
  4. Post as often as you like because more posts = more wellness for you and more chances to win!

Login to Wehl and share with us! Each time you share you’ll be entered to WIN a Wehl prize pack!

 

Seasons Greetings! We’re grateful to each of you for the support you’ve given to Wehl this year! We wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season! – Jennifer and The Wehl Team

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