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According to the carol, this is supposed to be the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” But for many, the holidays are a time of great stress. There are work/school related stressors with year-end projects wrapping up, office holiday parties and kids dance recitals to attend and shopping, don’t forget the shopping.  With all of the hustle and bustle, our normal routines get thrown off kilter and far too often our health and wellness practices get put on hold (until our New Year’s Resolutions get them back on track).  It’s easy to get run down, but there are ways to prevent your holidays from turning into stressed out sick days.

Maintain your exercise habits

I learned a great lesson when I was training for triathlon-if I get my workout done in the morning I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. During this busy time, if you can get 30 minutes of exercise in each morning before the craziness begins, you don’t have to worry about something coming up that will derail your workout. Trust me, something ALWAYS comes up. There are loads of options from dvds to downloadable apps, that include everything from cardio to strength training to yoga. An added bonus of a morning workout, your increased heart rate will boost your metabolism throughout the day, you’ll have more energy throughout the day, and you’ll likely sleep better at night.

Don’t fall off the (healthy eating) wagon

I love a good party as much as anyone, and I know how easy it is to park myself next to a platter of bacon wrapped anything only to realize I’ve devoured most of it while hearing about a friend’s daughter’s dance recital.  Ma’am, step away from the cheese ball! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy party fare, but go in with a strategy to prevent yourself from overindulging. Some people like to eat a light, healthy meal before going to the party, others suggest eating off a salad plate rather than a full size plate, and it’s a good idea to walk away from the buffet table so that you’re not tempted to graze throughout the party. And a tip to help prevent over-imbibing, alternate between the adult beverage of choice and water or a soft drink.

Remember the reason for the season

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or the New Year, remember that there’s no prize for person who spends the most time at the mall or attends the most parties. It’s a great time to create traditions and memories. I come from a large family, and I love the fact the emphasis was never on presents. Sure we’d each get a few gifts under the tree, but my fondest memories of Christmas as a kid are the times spent in the kitchen baking cookies. Sally and I would make pecan balls and rum balls while our sister Elizabeth made the most beautiful marzipan fruits. We’d go door-to-door with several other families in the neighborhood singing Christmas carols. My brothers would go out in the woods and shoot mistletoe out of the trees to hang in the doorways. While presents are fun for a day, or a week, or a month, memories of time spent with friends and family last forever.

Take time out for yourself

Even if it’s just 20 minutes at the end of the day to read a bit of that book you’re enjoying, or treating yourself to a bubble bath with soothing essential oils, hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range or taking a walk around the neighborhood to admire the decorations, set aside time to do something that you want to do. Not that you have to do, or that someone expects you to do, just something that you want to do for your enjoyment and peace of mind. If 20 minutes of “You” time just isn’t enough, you can always schedule a session for an hour or two at Connective Touch Therapeutic Massage in Reston.  ;-D

I wish you all the comfort and joy of the season!


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