Photo: Woman Meditating on the Beach

by Tandis Bishop, Nutritionist

With the busyness that accompanies the Christmas season, it is easy to neglect your own health and well being. Between all the shopping, family gatherings, and rich foods, you may suddenly find yourself stressed-out, exhausted, and getting sick! It happens more often than you know. To avoid this predicament, consider keeping your health in check this month using these tips:

  1. Take time to de-stress… Stress from shopping, working, entertaining, and visiting family can become very overwhelming. It is especially important during these hectic weeks to make time for stress-relieving activities.
    • Yoga, Tai-chi and Chi-kung are great for releasing tension, focusing the mind and lowering blood pressure. You can take a class or get a video to follow. Even a simple 10-minute breathing exercise can do wonders for the nerves.
    • Sneaking away for a quiet walk can be very therapeutic, especially in the midst of a family gathering. If you have time for more intense exercise, go for it – sweating out toxins and working your muscles is beneficial and does wonders for releasing stress.
    • Take a soothing bath. Use essential oils like lavender, bergamot or lemon balm; put a few drops in the water or use an essential oil burner or diffuser.
    • Sip a cup of chamomile or another relaxing herbal tea in the evening.
    • Stop stress before it starts by pre-planning all your gift buying and shopping early so you are not stuck doing last minute shopping on the busiest days.
  2. Remember to rest… Lack of sleep is common this time of year due to hectic schedules, parties to attend and traveling. Sufficient sleep is essential to keeping your body healthy and your immune system strong. Take some good old-fashioned naps during the day to recharge. Even 20 minutes of rest can make a world of difference in both your energy levels and your immune system.
  3. Eat well… Most of us will naturally eat some of the rich holiday foods at Christmas parties and family get-togethers. For the most part however, try to eat a wholesome, all-vegetarian diet as much as possible, including vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and drink plenty of water between meals. This will also help your body cope with the burden of stress and lack of sleep.

Above all, be thankful for the many gifts you have and try to keep things in perspective. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take the time needed to de-stress. Let this Christmas season be one of love and compassion to all, especially the innocent animals.