This is a topic near and dear to my heart, and something that is far more easily said than done, particularly during this “most wonderful time of the year.” Here are my top tips for surviving… and maybe even enjoying this holiday season.
– Make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep and that your children are too! The CDC recommends that adults get 7-8 hours, teens 9-10, school age children at least 10, and preschoolers 11-12 hours per day. For more info on sleep, check out this link www.cdc.gov
– Eat right! It’s easy to eat on the run this time of year and indulge in some treats, but fast food, baked goods, and alcohol will only leave your body craving real nutrition. If you must dine out, try something like Chipotle that has fresh food (order on-line to save yourself some time). Avoid menu items with the words fried, smothered, sautéed and anything with cream/cream sauce; when you can, opt for grilled or steamed. Keep the sweets to a minimum by filling up on healthy foods and knowing that you don’t have to try every single one of your relative’s cookies. When enjoying adult beverages, try not to over-indulge as alcohol interferes with sleep.
– Exercise! It doesn’t matter what you do, just move your body and get your heart rate elevated. After a long and hectic day I often don’t want to exercise, but I always do, because it makes me feel so much better! If you find yourself less than motivated, try just doing 5 minutes of something. Chances are, once you start, you’ll feel better and that 5 minutes will turn into more.
– Make time for yourself! Whether it’s a nightly bubble bath, a restorative yoga class (think getting cozy in a pose while the instructor comes around and gives all the students a massage), date night, a girls’ night in/out, a chapter of a good book, or just some time spent sitting in the silence after the kids are in bed. Remember, you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.
– Avoid peak shopping times! Though if you must, be prepared to take some deep breaths and know that there is always a place of peace and calm inside you if you take those deep breaths. A great strategy is to inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and then exhale for 6 counts.
– Arrange for childcare while you are shopping. Whether it’s grandma or grandpa or a teenager in your neighborhood, leaving the kids at home while you brave the stores will make things a lot less stressful! If you don’t have a trusted sitter, local churches and mom’s clubs often have lists of babysitters and websites. Places like www.care.com and www.sittercity.com have been very helpful for many people. The Little Gym (www.thelittlegym.com)also offers Parent Survival nights (usually Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30-10:00) and they have day camps during the weeks that the kids are out of school so that you can get some shopping done in peace. I checked rates last month for my son, and it’s $30 for members, $35 for non-members and there are discounts for multiple children.
– Use your children as an excuse. Hopefully none of my relatives are reading this right now, but getting your kids to bed on time is a great excuse to leave a stressful or unenjoyable holiday gathering a little early.
– Find something to be grateful for in every situation. When I’m sitting in traffic and my son is complaining, I remind him (and me), that not everyone has a car or money to fill up the gas tank and we are truly blessed to have the ability to sit in our warm car with music and each other for however long it takes us to get where we are going.
Nicole N. Torres, MOT, OTR/L