Eggnog, cheese plates, chocolates, pastries, gravy, mashed potatoes, turkey and stuffing. Geezze, I’m stuffed just typing this. The holidays are a season of indulgences. Dinner parties, cocktails, grandma’s famous pie. Its all wonderful. But do you feel as wonderful waking up January 1st? Achy, tired, bloated, and depressed. The aftermath of 30 days of rich foods will affect more than just your waistline. Inflammation, hormone imbalances, digestion disturbed, mood altered. It can take weeks or even months to get back to feeling well again.
Treating yourself and your loved ones over the holidays does not necessarily have to be focused on rich heavy foods to celebrate. Here are a few was to treat yourself over the holidays.
1. Spend Time with Loved Ones
These days it seems like everyone is beyond busy. Running from one meeting to the next, work hours become longer and longer, the laundry list of things to do is never ending. There is always more to do and never enough time. Sound familiar? Best intentions to catch up with friends become broken promises. And all of a sudden, another week or month has passed, and you still don’t connect. Over the holidays, why not treat yourself by prioritizing a social date. Creating an opportunity for connection can be the most valuable gift. An afternoon filled with laughter, catching up, sharing stories and creating memories is the most decadent treat.
2. Make New Memories
Over the winter months, Netflix and Chill kicks into high gear. Binge watching movies and snacking on chips and popcorn has become the way of life until the spring arrives. When the temperatures are -40 cozy in. But winter does not necessarily have to mean hibernation. Get out and enjoy the beauty the season brings. Create a new memory with friends and family. Explore the holiday light displays, visit a night market all lit up, experiment with new recipes that will have all the holiday flavors without throwing you off you clean eating lifestyle. There is nostalgia in traditions but there is also excitement in creating new memories, new experiences. In our house, we have taken to a new tradition where every year it changes. We call it a Christmas of favorites. Choosing one day over the holidays where we make all our favorite foods. It gets us all involved. Everyone in the kitchen, cooking and laughing together with Holiday music as our soundtrack.
3. Spend Time Creating vs. Shopping
Malls filled with 100’s of people, long checkout lines, credit card balances climbing, stress building, and a partridge in a pear tree! Not exactly the holiday spirit I look forward to. The season too often becomes overrun by consumerism. Buying gifts for every relative, coworker, acquaintance. Mostly with feelings of ‘have to’ vs ‘want to’. Is that really what its all about? The person with the shiniest most expensive gadget wins? Forgive me, but I don’t see anything genuine or special about that. What about taking some of that time to tap into your creative self? Making a gift with some meaning. A photo album of favorite moments, a tree ornament or even a gag gift. Make some hilarity, that’s sure to leave a lasting memory. One of my favorite gifts was a cutting board my sister gave me. It doesn’t sound extravagant I know but it was something special. She had engraved a recipe in my mom’s hand writing on the cutting board. My mom passed away several years ago, so we haven’t been able to spend holidays together in quite some time. My sisters creativity that year briefly brought our mom back to celebrate with us. It meant so much more than a gift from a store.
4. Be a Kid Again
When we are young, the holidays are the best time of year. Visiting the bearded man in the red suit at the mall, making snow angles, memorized by all the lights. When did our magic for the season turn into stresses of the season. Everyone running around with so many things to do to create a perfect holiday. The tree must be perfectly matched to the wreath, place settings must be just so, and every gift wrapped and tied with a fancy bow. It truly breaks my heart to hear so many people so stressed at this time of year that they don’t enjoy it. Bring back your holiday spirit. Get out with the kids and build a snowman, take a holiday hike and enjoy some hot chocolate (organic dark chocolate of course 😊), crank up the cheesy jungles and belt out a tune. Or my personal favorite, find the ugliest holiday sweater and strut your stuff. Focusing on moments of laughter instead of chaos. Create opportunities to find the joy of the season instead of the stress.
5. Give to Charity
December has become known for the season of giving. Which can be a lovely. It feels good to give. Put a smile on someone’s face, express your gratitude, share the love. Unfortunately, however, for many the season brings sadness, feelings of loneliness and grief. It is at this time that we all have an opportunity to give to this less fortunate. It doesn’t have to be grand to make a difference. A pair of wool socks and a hat to someone who spends their days in the cold. A Holiday Hamper program to help a family enjoy a special meal when otherwise their fridge is empty. Donating time to community programs cost nothing but has so much value. In this season of giving, give. For the past 3 years my husband and I participate in the holiday hamper program and I have so much fun creating a special meal for a family that I know will appreciate the gift. We are now adding a new charity into the mix and will continue to do so each year. We are not millionaires by any means, but we feel its important to give what we can. Knowing that our small donations allow a family to enjoy the holiday is a beautiful gift.
The holidays are without doubt, a special time. It is a time to be celebrated. There are treats around every corner at every celebration. This is not to say you shouldn’t have any. Get a piece of Grandmas pie and enjoy every bite. But instead of indulging in every box of chocolates that crosses your path, consider treating yourself in a different way. Embracing the spirit of the holidays and create a memory to be cherished for years to come. To me, that’s a real treat.