Tag Archives: 31 Days

Day 24 – Hydrate!

Drink up!

Drink up!

I know you’re busy so I’ll keep it short!  Your tip for day 24 of 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is to drink water.

I’m sure many of you are running around today with last minute errands, marathon gift-wrapping sessions and pretending to be in your own version of Iron Chef.  To make sure you have enough energy to get through it all, stay hydrated!  Even mild dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness and your energy to droop. Pack a couple of bottles of water with you if you’re going to be out for the day and try to not rely on caffeine and energy drinks too heavily.  They’ll actually drain your energy levels more.  If you’re not a huge fan of water, try flavored seltzers or squeeze a lemon or lime into your water.

Happy hydration and Christmas Eve to you!

Day 23 – Schedule Time with Friends Post Holiday

Friendship is good for you!

Friendship is good for you!

The tip for day 23 of 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is to make plans with your girlfriends after the holidays. It will keep your stress levels in check.

Despite all the events and gatherings going on during the holidays, sometimes it seems like we actually see less of our favorite people during them!  Everyone is so busy and just because you make it to a certain party, doesn’t mean that everyone you want to see will be able to.  Take a moment today to reach out to some of your best girlfriends and schedule some time to get together after the new year. Maybe a healthy brunch, yoga class or even just a long overdue phone call.

I was listening to Dr. Sara Gottfried (of The Hormone Cure fame) speak at the Longevity Now Conference earlier this year and she was talking about a groundbreaking UCLA study that looked at women’s friendships that revealed how men and women differ in their responses to stress.  Men tend to respond with fight or flight, and it was thought that women do too but this study showed that in addition to fight or flight, women seek out their friends during times of stress.  Time with friends increases their production of oxytocin (the bonding hormone), which in turn suppresses cortisol (the stress hormone) making them feel calmer.  So getting together with your girlfriends actually lowers your stress levels!  How awesome is that!?

I hope you don’t need an excuse to hang out with your girlfriends but if you do, you have a great one now.  Plan some time with them once the holidays are over so you can unwind from the hectic season together.

Day 22 – Be Still

IMG_1834Welcome to Day 22 of 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More.  Your tip today is to be still.  Spend some time in meditation.

You’re just a few days away from Christmas and you’ve been a busy, productive little bee!  Can you take 10 minutes out of your holiday preparations to be still, sit in a comfortable position and just listen to your breath as it moves in and out? If distracting thoughts come into your mind, that’s ok, just notice them and go back to focusing on your breath.  Sometimes it helps to repeat a word (or mantra) on the inhale or exhale.  I’m a little intense and have a hard time chilling out so I like to repeat the word “calm” on my exhale.  It helps!

Meditation can help bring clarity and focus to a busy mind.  It can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress.  It can help you start to see the big picture again if you’ve been getting bogged down by the nitty gritty details of life.  At first you might feel like you’re not doing anything at all and that you’re “wasting time” by just sitting and breathing, but if you give it some time and just let it happen, you will see some benefits over time.  The holidays are a great time to start a meditation practice because it will bring you to a calm place when there is so much going on around you.

Take a seat and try it.  What’s it like to just be alone with your body and mind for a few minutes?  What does that feel like?  Is it comfortable for you? Is it easy?

Need some more reasons to try it?  Check out this cool infographic on the benefits of meditation by Emma Seppala.

Day 21 – Sleep In!

Cats know how important sleep is.

Cats know how important sleep is.

The tip for day 21 of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is to sleep in!  If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already up so sleep in tomorrow, ok?  If you can’t sleep in, then try to fit in some naps this weekend.

There’s no better way to recharge and recoup from the stresses of the holiday season than getting a good night’s sleep.  Sleeping is when our body repairs itself and if you’re not getting enough you may increase your risk of cardiovascular issues and even gain weight. Plus, sleeping just feels good, especially when it’s so cold out!

If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep, try taking a warm bath or shower with lavender oil shortly before bedtime.  The drop in body temperature when you get out of the shower will let your body know that it’s time for bed.  It also helps to keep the temperature in your bedroom cool.  Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed and you know the blank journal you’ve been keeping next to the bed for your gratitude assignment from Day 19? Take a few minutes to jot down any last minute worries or things that belong on your to do list.  This will free your mind to rest.  If you thoughts about what you need to do the next day floating into your head when you first turn off the light, get up and jot those down too.  It really helps!

Don’t waste any of your time feeling guilty about sleeping in.  Whether you stayed in bed until 8am or 11am, enjoy it, relish it and remember that you’re giving your body something it desperately needs.

Day 20 – Get Some Hot Chocolate

Your tip for the 20th day of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate.

Chocolate has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reduces insulin resistance and can even lower your stress levels. No wonder so many of us reach for the stuff when we’re overwhelmed and anxious!  It’s full of antioxidants, flavonoids and minerals like magnesium and iron. In order to get some health benefits from this delicious stuff, the key is the quality you choose.  Eating milk chocolate covered marshmallows isn’t going to do you any good.  There’s just not enough cocoa in it.  For snacking, look for organic dark chocolate, 70% cacao or higher.  And when choosing cocoa powder, look for non-alkalized (not Dutch) cocoa powders, preferably organic.  If you can find raw organic cacao powder, even better!  It tastes the same as cocoa but the processing is slightly different leaving it with higher antioxidant content (supposedly).

Healthier Hot Cocoa (makes 2 servings)

2-3 tbsp organic cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp organic honey or raw sugar
1 tbsp warm water
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups unsweetened organic almond milk (rice, dairy or soy milk also works)
optional: dash of real vanilla extract

Mix cocoa, honey and salt in a small sauce pan.  Stir in 1 tbsp warm water and bring to just boiling, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally.  Once it boils, pour in your almond milk (or other milk) and vanilla (if using) and heat just until hot, again, stirring occasionally to make sure all the cocoa gets mixed in.  Serve and enjoy.

If you want a hot cocoa with a little more protein and pizzaz (and you have a great blender), check out this awesome recipe by Modern Vintage Cooking.  I make it with peppermint tea, one less date and a little extra cocoa.  It makes for a filling and delicious chocolatey snack.  I like it hot, John likes it cold.  Oh, and if you put it in the freezer for 45 minutes, you’ll have an awesome puddinglike concoction to eat with a spoon. YUM!

Cozy up today with a warm cup of hot chocolate!

Healthy Hot Cocoa

Healthy Hot Cocoa

Day 19 – What are you grateful for?

I'm always grateful to see a beautiful sunset!

I’m always grateful to see a beautiful sunset!

Wow, this month is flying by, huh?!  It’s day 19 of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More and today’s tip is to spend a few minutes thinking about what you are grateful for.  I know we just had thanksgiving a few weeks ago but studies show that people who focus on the good in their lives feel happier than those who focus on the negative so I think it’s important to make gratitude a regular thing.  Most of us have a tendency to focus on what isn’t going well.   While it isn’t easy to pull your head up when things aren’t going well, trying to remember what you have, instead of what you don’t have, can make things look a little rosier.

Acknowledging what is good in your life, doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop trying to change things for the better or that everything is perfect, it just means that you are aware of all that you have. It doesn’t mean that you can’t vent about the bad things (especially when you are going through a lot!).  I have my struggles but ultimately I feel very lucky because I have a warm and safe home, a kind and hardworking husband, good health and supportive family and friends.  That’s not so bad!

Take a few minutes today to think about what is positive in your life.  What or who are you grateful for?  Was there something good that happened to you today?  You can write it down or tell someone.  Sometimes saying things out loud makes a bigger impact.

If you feel like expressing gratitude isn’t easy for you, or if a dark cloud seems to be following you around try this longer term exercise:

Keep a blank journal on your nightstand and every night before bed, write down three things that happened that day that you are grateful for.  Simple things are fine.  For example:

1. I’m grateful for the sunshine today
2. I’m grateful for my reliable car getting me to where I need to be
3. I’m grateful for good coffee

Try it for three weeks.  Your general outlook on life will improve and you will find it easier to see the good.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for this holiday season.  I hope you do too!

Day 18 – Finish that Shopping!

You’re in the homestretch for Christmas.  Hopefully you’ve finished all your shopping!  If you haven’t, try to get it all done in the next day or two.  Would be nice to have a few days to relax a little before the holiday?  Put your feet up for a bit, read a book?

I love visiting small businesses for gifts.  They often have local made goodies (who wouldn’t want some NH Grade B Maple Syrup?!) and unique gifts that you won’t find anywhere else.  Great if you’re stuck for ideas. Plus you’re supporting the local economy!

If you don’t have time to zip around to all your favorite stores, online shopping is also great resource.   If you know what you need to get, you can often find the best price by a few google searches.  Many online retailers have deadlines to order by so that you get your packages in time for Christmas.  Those deadlines are fast approaching, probably in the next day or two.

If I’m out of ideas for gifts, some of the sites I check out for inspiration for kids are:  The Land of NodMindwareEbeanstalk.  For adults:  Red EnvelopeGarnett HillZady or Uncommon Goods.  Moma online and Strolby both have really cool stuff for both adults and kids.  Can you tell I’ve spent too much time on the internet?

A few more ideas:

  • Gift cards – you can even buy various ones at gas stations and the grocery store now
  • Donate to a charity in their name (not a great idea for kids but adults appreciate this one – not many of us need another candle or new tie).
  • Buy a gift certificate to a local restaurant
  • A homemade creative gift – homemade jam or Coconut oil whipped up with some lavender oil as a body butter
  • A gift certificate to a local farm store or health food store

You’re almost there.  You’ve got this!