The Gift of Self Care
James Rouse, ND
The holiday season can be rich with joy, thanksgiving, and community celebration. It can also be a season of outward focusing that can leave us feeling out of balance from over doing for others and forgetting about ourselves. This year set the tone for living fully in the Spirit of the season by being willing to give the gift of peace and well-being to yourself and celebrating your many blessings!
The experience of a more balanced and joyous holiday begins with looking back at your past holiday experiences. So you see opportunities for improvement? Is there a memory of dashing through the checkout at the last minute with a default gift in hand and less than “good will” in your heart? How about any memories of conscious portion distortion or conspicuous consumption with holiday buffets? I know that we can all notice an instance or two where we would love to raise our holiday game! Rather than just settling for surviving the holiday hustle and bustle-this year, let’s set the intention to truly thrive! Here are some tips (gifts) that you must add to the top of your holiday “to do” list!
Begin each holiday marathon day strong and whole by eating a supportive breakfast. Here’s some food for thought: Breakfast eaters have greater overall health; breakfast eaters are more successful with weight loss and healthy weight management (not that weight is an issue this time of year [sigh]); and breakfast eaters are better with stress management than non breakfast eaters. Picture yourself in traffic with low blood sugar and a 100 ounce latte’ in hand — is this balance? Choose to take time and nourish your mind and body with a nutritious balance of whole grain and fiber rich complex carbohydrates from cereal or whole grain breads. Add extra stress busting support with Vitamin C- and antioxidant-rich berries and healthy omega 3 fatty aids from walnuts –yum! Balance this with lean protein like eggs, cottage cheese, protein smoothies, or soy based sausages or patties and you are fueled for greatness on the go!
Next stop the mall! When you are looking for many opportunities to experience Spiritual growth and detachment look no further than the mall; the lines, the noise, the good cheer on the faces of fellow shoppers…yes…breathe. You can make your mall time much merrier with a few simple rituals that help keep stress hormones at bay. Try not to shop when you are in a hurry so that you have time to implement these strategies. Instead of stressing over getting the closest parking space to the store door, choose the spot that’s farther away and use the walking time to get in exercise and walking meditation. Breathe from your belly as your make your way across the parking lot. Do a visioning practice and set your intentions for the type of shopping experience that you are creating for yourself and those with whom you transact. When spending time in line, notice what comes up for you and see how you might bring greater love and openness into the moment by looking at the cashier, the person next to you and all beings within your energy field with “soft eyes” of acceptance and compassion. Silently bless them with a smile. You can also help to cushion the cortisol (stress hormone) by keeping your blood sugar balanced and not letting it drop too low. Pack portable stress-easing snacks in your purse, backpack or pocket. Great bets are almonds, sunflower seeds and low-fat string cheese, and healthy energy bars. This will help with keeping your mood and outlook on the up and up.
The evening party circuit can be an arena where you may find yourself caught between the battle of endless buffets. A simple tip to keep your calories in check is to have a balanced meal with plenty of fiber BEFORE you head to the party. You can be social and snack, enjoy the company and keep your head about you when the 22nd tray passes your way and passes right on by-thank you. This will also help with being more mindful and moderate with alcohol consumption too-cheers.
In the time just before bed you have an opportunity to bring all things whole once again. Allow a window with no TV or over-processing the day’s events to practice simple self nurturing with gentle yoga and stretching. Breathe into each stretch with the intention of taking in soothing light and healing energy and when you exhale, release any heaviness, any doubt or fault finding and let it all go away. This practice seamlessly turns into a perfect time to write in a gratitude journal-recording the many blessings of the day and of this most beautiful time of the year and effortlessly into a peaceful night sleep. Happy holiday and many blessings to you and yours.
Dr. James Rouse
Dr. James Rouse is a naturopathic physician with extensive credentials in the wellness field including post-doctorate work in acupuncture, Chinese medicine and transpersonal psychology. He is a member of the Human Touch Health & Wellness Council and relaxes in his Human Touch Massage Chair daily.