The holidays can be tough—budgets, stressful schedules and less than ideal temptations can throw a wrench in your healthy daily routine. Try these tips from Chicago’s physicians and wellness experts at BIÂN on how to maintain body and mind balance and serenity this season.
Mentalize your mission. What is your specific hope (and reasons why you chose it) for this holiday season? Is it to get along with your mother-in-law at Christmas dinner or perhaps is your focus to bring your community together? “Create grand scale and micro missions to set the tone for each event,” says BIÂN co-Founder and director of Wellness Mar Soraparu. All decisions can filter through this to help you keep track of how your actions are leading towards, or away, from your mission.
Maintain an element of your routine. “Throwing all routine out the door invites not-so-healthy results,” says Soraparu. Maintaining a component of your normal routine (be it getting your heart rate up or spending a quiet moment reading in the morning) that you would consider fundamental to your health. It may look different (a brisk snowy walk versus a HIIT class) but the purpose remains the same, and it does matter.
Consume and savor mindfully. Be mindful with your food and drink choices. Feel it, taste it, smell it, swirl it, talk about it, and savor it. When we eat or drink too quickly, we tend to overconsume. When it comes to holiday meals, Soraparu suggests eating a small healthy meal ahead of events. That way you can ensure you’re getting healthy choices in, and it’ll help cut down on overindulging in rich foods.
Beat the bloat. We are all familiar with the bloated feeling after one too many servings of Christmas cookies. “Food can certainly contribute to pushing inflammation beyond what is normal and cause damage,” says Ben Schuff, N.D., BIÂN’s director of naturopathy and nutrition. “Overeating or eating meals with too much complexity, relative to our digestive capacity, is a direct route to inflammation, no matter what the actual meal contains.” You can help reduce bloat by eating slower, not overeating, and making sure you’re not stressed or fatigued while consuming food.
Give yourself a break. Dr. Sandra Subotich, doctor of East Asian medicine and the director of East Asian therapies at BIÂN, stresses the importance of sleep and rest when it comes to health and wellness. “I encourage people to listen to their bodies,” she says. “I think we have somehow equated rest with being lazy, and I think that’s a huge disservice.” During the holiday season especially, we can feel tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, and even moody—all which can be signs that we need rest. If you’re not a big napper, try taking 20 minutes alone with no distractions or give yourself time to just “do nothing” but breathe or stare into space. There are no rules to how you rest, but your body and mind will thank you for a quiet moment.