Self-Care Tips For The Holiday Season

With the colder weather, shorter days, longer hours at the office and the inevitable parties & holiday gatherings, December can be a hard month on the body! All too often we burn the candle at both ends and wind up sick and rundown. Avoid the burnout and keep yourself feeling healthy this holiday season with these simple tips. 


Sleep is everything when it comes to maintaining good health and preventing illness-and is often the first thing to become affected when we’re juggling a lot of things. If you’re finding yourself ‘wired but tired’ in the evenings, or on a few nights of restless sleep, try winding down early. Put the electronic devices away and have a hot bath with epsom salts or magnesium flakes; the heat and muscle relaxing effects of the magnesium promotes relaxation. Lavender is great to rub on your temples or spray on your pillow, breathing in the aroma allows the calming effects to take place. Supplements like gaba may also be of benefit before bed. Gaba reduces feelings of acute stress and nervousness and promotes physical relaxation without drowsiness -which may help to improve the quality of your sleep. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about Gaba before you test it out! 


Acupuncture & cupping are great treatments to help calm the nervous system and promote restorative sleep. 


The dreaded feelings of stress can be mitigated by efforts to improve your breathing. Mindfulness with breath is the first step. Stop what you’re doing. Take a moment to observe your breath, are you deep belly breathing or are is your breath shallow and coming from your chest? Is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders hiked up to your ears? Allow yourself 5 slow, deep belly breaths. Relax your jaw, do a body scan and soften each muscle that is tense. Keeping going with these breaths for a few minutes. Go back to your task and check in again shortly. The more you become aware of how often you hold yourself in tension, the more you can change this state to a more relaxed one. 


Massage, acupuncture, cupping all require you to be laying down focusing on your breath and your body. Table treatments are a great way to get 60 minutes of inward focus in a quiet dark room, without the distraction of your phone or tv. 


Energy is maintained when we respect our boundaries. This means knowing when to, and being comfortable saying no to invitations and requests. If you’re all too familiar with over-extending yourself during this season, practice the ultimate self-care by saying NO. A warning sign that you might be over-extending yourself is when things that normally excite you feel like obligations. If the girls dinner on the calendar for next week is something you’re dreading instead of counting down the minutes for, it’s a sign that there’s too much on your plate. It’s ok to cancel the dinner, stay home, have a bath, do some deep breathing and rest your body so that the next event feels like a welcome social treat. 


Less of a treatment and more of a lifestyle hack, try lowering your caffeine intake. Yes lowering. 1 cup of coffee in the morning is a nice ritual, but any more than that is a big old swipe on the energy credit card. If you must have your afternoon pick-me-up, consider switching to green tea or matcha. Still caffeinated, but richer in anti-oxidants and theanine, an amino acid that can be helpful for energy, focus and concentration. 


Daily movement is crucial; intense exercise on the other hand, may just add to the demand on your body. If you’re feeling the tension and stress creeping in, consider swapping your high-intensity spin class or circuit training for a low-impact yoga class, like hatha or yin. You’ll still be getting the blood flowing, but in a restorative way that doesn’t ramp up the adrenaline. If it’s a sunny day, pass on the class and walk outside. We get so much less exposure to the sun and vitamin D during wintertime, and sometimes all it takes is a quiet, contemplative walk to feel fully restored. 


Olympic Village Loop – start your walk from the centre of Olympic Village, go left towards Granville Island along the sea wall, or go right towards Science Centre, either direction is fine! Walk along the sea wall until you come across your side of the Cambie St. bridge. Hop up the stairs, cross the bridge back down the stairs and walk along the other side of the sea wall back to Olympic Village. It’s about 30 minutes with a brisk pace. 


Holidays usually mean more snacks, sugar and alcoholic drinks. You can offset the effects by making sure to drink a ton of water, 2-3L daily. Since it’s colder weather, opt of warm water or hot teas instead of ice water. In fact, give your digestion a major hand and swap the cold salads and veggie bowls for warm soups and stews. Keeping your digestive tract warm will help prevent bloating, fatigue and irregular bowel movements. Digestive enzymes can come in handy before holiday parties too, as they help your body break down your meals which will also help reduce bloating, nausea and indigestion. Your Naturopathic doctor will be able to pick out a good option for you. 


Again, acupuncture can be really helpful to keep the digestive tract healthy and functioning optimally, and an IV drip may help with hydration, energy, mental clarity and immune function. Book a consult with your naturopathic doctor to find out if an IV drip is safe and indicated for you!

In Health,

Dr. Alaina

Call Tandem Clinic at 604 670 0590 or schedule online HERE

You might also want to read our previous blog, CHEMOTHERAPY-INDUCED PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY

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