December is one of the busiest and most stressful months of the year. Parties, decorating, shopping, cooking, closing the year out financially, and spending time with family members who may have different values and beliefs can take a toll on our wellbeing.
When we are rundown and exhausted, situations we would normally move through with ease, create tremendous stress. Small tasks seem daunting, and we snap at those around us.
The best way to navigate through the stress of the month is to keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy.
So, how do we stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit?
While I don’t have any drummers drumming, geese a-laying, or a partridge in a pear tree, I can offer you 12 useful nuggets of wisdom to put into practice each day. I call them the 12 Days of Healthy Habits.
1) Move Your Body
We’re just getting started with what can sometimes be a season filled with stress. Movement gets your blood pumping and helps reduce stress. Even brief 5-to-10-minute spurts can be beneficial.
2) Balance Your Blood Sugar
It’s that time of year when holiday treats fill the house or office at every turn. We all love indulging in them. However, this can lead to a blood sugar roller coaster and spike insulin. To keep your blood sugar from spiking, eat protein, fat, and fiber along with your yummy treats.
It’s out with the old to make room for the new today! Whether you’re up for a massive top-to-bottom house cleaning, or you just need to clear your kitchen counter, purging can go a long way to managing your stress levels. If you only have a few minutes, try decluttering your wallet, purse, car console, or one counter.
4) Stay Hydrated
All those holiday parties with alcohol and caffeine can leave us dehydrated. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day to stay hydrated and energized.
Need help? Get a large container marked with times of the day. Add fruit, cucumber, or mint to you water. Start your day with 8-12 ounces of water as soon as you hop out of bed.
5) Get Quality Sleep
I know things are busy these days, however, keeping a bedtime routine which allows for 7-8 hours of sleep will keep you energized, focused, and help you to have better mood regulation. Start by waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. Limit caffeine late in the day and screen time before bed.
6) Mindfulness Practice
Start today off with 5 minutes of meditation or focused breathing. If you’re new to meditation or just need some guidance, try this step-by-step guide:
• Sit comfortably in a calm and quiet place. It can be in a chair or on the floor. Just make sure you are stable and in a position that you can stay in comfortably for a while.
• Set a time limit. 5-10 minutes is a good place to start
• Notice your body and any aches or pains.
• Feel the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out.
• Notice when your mind has wandered – because it will. When that happens, be kind and don’t judge yourself. Just gently bring your focus back to your breath.
• When you are ready, open your eyes or lift your gaze. Begin to turn your attention to your surroundings. Notice the sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
As our lives and schedules (and stores) become busier, practice gratitude. Be intentional about acknowledging the people and things you are grateful for in your life. This practice can also help decrease stress. When your stress level is high, pause and acknowledge three to five things that are going well.
Who do you want to be this year? This month? Today? The crazy, stressed person or the happy, calm person. You get to choose how you act and respond every second of the day. Our attitude has a ripple effect. When we choose kindness and peace, others feel our energy, attitude, and positive presence.
9) Practice affirmations
Begin your day with positive affirmations to set you on the right path. Need one to get you started? “I am loved for being who I am, for existing.” Start and end your day with one or more affirmation.
10) Connect with those around you
People who connect with others on a regular basis are more joyful. Human connection is vital for our mental and emotional health. Be intentional about connecting with people who uplift you and give you energy, especially on days when your energy is depleted.
Letting go of grudges, anger, resentment, and bitterness can have a huge impact on our health with benefits like:
• Healthier relationships
• Improved mental health
• Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
• Lower blood pressure
• Fewer symptoms of depression
• A stronger immune system
• Improved heart health
• Improved self-esteem
12) Embrace support and accountability
When healthy habits are in place, you’re healthier and life is more fulfilling. Having an accountability partner or coach can make all the difference in following through with your goals. Relying solely on ourselves often leads to excuses and self-sabotage. Having support and accountability from an outside source will help you stay on track and live the healthy life you deserve and desire.
Focusing on these healthy habits during the holiday season will help you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If STRESS is preventing you from living out these healthy habits in your daily life, grab this special report: Address Your Stress in 3 Simple Steps.