You're a woman over 40. You've seen a few holiday seasons. You might even be wired to expect the usual over-indulgence, lack of sleep, stressful schedules, a long list of things that have to get done and a calendar that is over-booked.
But what if this year could be different?
I'm dreaming of a nice, easy holiday season... Are you with me?
I've come up with 10 tips to help women over 40 work in that direction. Who says you can't have healthy holidays?
- Politely bail out. Do you really have to go to all of those parties, gatherings, galas on your calendar? Go through your calendar and mindfully consider that there are many events and obligations that you are not actually obligated to attend. Aim to slash at least a third off the list. Send a warm, polite message to the hosts and let them know you have a very important person who has shown up really needing your time and attention that night. (It's not a lie! YOU are that very important person who desperately needs some peace and quiet).
- Hire a teenager to decorate, wrap and bake for you. This year I hired a very reliable, creative, dependable 16 year old girl (cough, cough... it was my daughter! Hey - she got to make some money and I bought myself time and energy!) to decorate the tree, the house, to bake holiday items for our neighbors and to help get all the gifts wrapped. This allowed me a chance to get in more yoga, more exercise time AND it kept me from tasting those baked items that are not on my healthy eating plan.
- Walk on. Walk off. I can't rave enough about how two super-brisk walks every day is keeping me on track. It gives me time to get my lungs and heart pumping while my brain is able to work through some solutions to challenges and my spirit gets to connect with Nature. You will feel so much more ALIVE if you adopt this practice into your life. Just 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the late afternoon does WONDERS.
- Breathe breaks. Remember in the old days how people used to take a coffee break or go outside to have a smoke? While ditching the unhealthy habits we lost the mental and emotional break from work by not taking those breaks. I recommend a 3 minute breathing break every hour during your work day or even if you're running errands. Stop what you're doing. Close your eyes and take some nice, slow, deep breaths.
- Eat at home. I am the first one to admit I'm a foodie. I love to try new restaurants and I love to sample the seasonal fares at our favorite places. But I've noticed since committing to prepare our meals and eat at home there are a few wonderful benefits. My husband and I cook together and it's a great bonding time. We turn on some tunes and enjoy chopping and prepping delicious, healthy whole-food meals together. We eat healthier when we eat at home. We also save so much money this way.
- Keep your bedtime routine intact. It's all too easy to have the regular routine completely derailed during the holidays. You need your sleep. Over 40 it's all the more important for our circadian rhythms to stay intact. Go to bed at the same time and set an alarm so you wake up at the same time. That beauty rest we heard about growing up is a real thing. To feel alive and well, for our metabolism to do its job, we need our sleep.
- Sing some holiday songs to lower your stress. Yep. According to Stacy Horn, author of Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others, "Singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits." Who knew?
- Aromatherapy for everyone. There is a reason we naturally love all those holiday scents. Peppermint is uplifting and invigorating. White fir is grounding and calming. Cinnamon and clove are warming. And if you can get these scents in the form of essential oils you get the benefit of boosting your body's immune system and helping fight off viruses, bacteria and other unwanted microbrial creatures. Invest in some quality essential oils and a good diffuser and keep your house and office smellling holiday fresh for all round good health.
- Hang out under the mistletoe. Hugs and kisses go along way in keeping us feeling connected. Research shows that loving physical affection is good for mental and physical well-being.
- Don't forget to relax regularly. Once you've created some white space in your schedule after politely bailing out and hiring a teen for the holiday tasks, don't fill up this time with other things to do. Use this time to RELAX. Take a soaking bath with epsom salts. Go to a restorative yoga class. Sit down and meditate. Curl up with a low key movie and a cup of chamomile tea.