It isn’t necessary to have your stress levels ramp up over the holiday season – it really isn’t. When November rolls around, you start to see that slightly panicked look in people’s faces. Suddenly the pressure in ON!! But it doesn’t have to be. Here are my top tips for a zen and stress-free holiday season:
Preparation is everything: I’ve learned this the hard way, and thank goodness I now know better. I’m talking specifically about food preparation. As you know, I eat and promote a whole food, plant-based diet. Since this is relatively new for a lot of you, I highly recommend that you decide what you are going to cook or eat ASAP. If you are hosting, create a menu that will please everyone. Spend a day or so cruising vegan blogs, and browsing cookbooks to find recipes that will round out your holiday feast. Don’t stress about the plant-based thing because almost all your sides can easily be tweaked to be vegan. And pop a vegan celebration roast by Field Roast in the freezer for you and those who won’t be eating turkey.
Downsize everything: Instead of thinking that bigger or more is better, go minimal this year. Make do with what you’ve got, and instead of buying more ornaments, table decorations, gifts, and general holiday stuff, go green and reuse what you already have. Staying out of stores and the mall is the easiest path to a zen holiday season. Seriously – all that manic shopping with holiday muzak and artificial gingerbread scent everywhere just adds to the pressure of not feeling enough. You are enough. You have enough. The only thing that really matters is looking into the eyes of those you love and showing them how much you value them. This is truly the greatest gift that you can give anyone.
Get your meditation ON: If there’s ever a time of year to ramp up your meditation practice, it’s now. Let go of the holiday madness, and commit to going within. Thanksgiving is simply a time to give thanks, and there is no better way to do that than to meditate on what you are grateful for. Try sitting for just five minutes a day, take long, deep, even breaths (in for three slow beats and out for three slow beats). When your mind has slowed down, and your body feels calmer, whip out your notebook and write down five things that you are truly grateful for.
Take a 5-HTP supplement to help promote a calm and relaxed mood, and to help you to retain a positive outlook during this hectic season. I know what it’s like when you have family or in-laws coming into town who you know will press your buttons (or you may be visiting them). “Dread” is the word that comes to mind. But staying calm and positive is yours for the taking. And this is why Natrol 5-HTP, a 100% drug-free supplement, may be just what you need. It naturally increases your body’s serotonin levels, which helps you to stay positive during a stressful holiday season. I’ve found it to be enormously helpful in staying calm when everything around me becomes chaotic. It comes in either Time Release (to keep you calm throughout the day), or Fast Dissolve (for quicker relief). As is the case with all Natrol supplements, look for that familiar purple bottle cap.
Please check with your doctor before taking 5-HTP. You should not take it if you are already taking any prescription medications, or anti-depressants. And I recommend not taking it with other herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort.
Ramp up your exercise because along with my other tips, regular exercise will significantly diminish stress. Does this mean that you have to squeeze in extra classes and training sessions when you’re already crazy busy? Absolutely not! Simply lace up your sneakers for a brisk 30-minute walk a day. Build this into your schedule. This might mean that you integrate it into your lunch break, or get up a little earlier. Most of us can find a spare 30 minutes to do something as painless as walking. The added benefit is that walking for just 1 mile a day can reduce your risk of breast and prostate cancer by a whopping 40%
Get your yoga on because a daily practice honestly cannot fail to make you feel 100% better. Even if you get 3 poses under your belt, that will make a huge difference to your stress levels and your day. I basically live in yoga gear because this way I’m always ready to hop on my mat and practice a couple of poses. The meaning of yoga is “union”. Yoga means that you are joining all the different parts of your being together – your mind, your breath, your body, and your spirit. This is why it’s a holistic practice. You might think you’re just stretching, but you’re getting the stress release for free!