Mental Health  
 December 2, 2015

Stay Energized this Holiday Season


How would you describe your mental and physical state during the holidays?  More specifically: how would you describe your mental and physical state after a big meal?

For me that can be: lethargic, bloated, grumpy, and a foggy brain.  Needless to say it’s tough to maintain a cheery state when I feel like that, especially with all the joy and merriment of the season.  I love the holiday season and I want to be able to enjoy it, which means I want to feel good, too.

So what to do with all that food?

Many families come together over a beautifully set table with delicious, homemade dishes; this is a time to celebrate and reconnect with loved ones!  A time to savor–especially when it comes to mom’s stuffing or Aunt Lynn’s famous pumpkin pie.  These foods are often special to us because they evoke a sense of comfort, love and fond memories of past holiday seasons.  And, plain and simple: they taste good.  We should enjoy such meals, right?

A resounding YES!  Such occasions are special and should be enjoyed.  Especially since it is possible to maintain good, steady energy throughout the season while still being able to enjoy your favorite foods in good company (this is something I’ve mastered over the years!).

Here’s the big secret: between each feast there are opportunities to bring a little restoration and balance into the season.  I take advantage of these opportunities whenever I can!  They help me feel better inside and out, which makes my mood that much more jolly.

Here are the five simple tips I follow to keep me balanced and energized during the holidays:


When we sleep our bodies have a chance to restore and detox.  This improves thinking, helps our bodies return to a neutral state and refuels energy.  Enhance your sleep time by allowing yourself time to digest after a big meal: try to take your last bite 2-3 hours before your bedtime.  To ensure I get serious, quality sleep I sleep with earplugs.

Stick to your regular diet

Just because dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow will be fit for a king, that doesn’t mean every other meal should be.  Pay attention to what you eat between the big meals.  Keep on hand the foods you know make you feel good.  To maintain good energy during those big meals load up on protein and healthy fats (click here to learn more about healthy fats), which will satiate and help the body better balance out the sugar intake from those delicious treats.

Drink plenty of water

Drink at least eight cups of water each day to ensure your body is staying hydrated!  Hydration helps keep our energy going and aids in the digestion process (feeling a little, ahem, backed up?  Up the water intake!).  Coffee, alcohol and sugar all have a tendency to dry out the skin so you’ll want to counteract this with plenty of water.  Which reminds me: the only way to avoid a hangover is to drink less, so be mindful of your alcohol consumption!  Especially when it comes to the buttered rum and other rich cocktails, which may have more calories or sugar in them than a dessert.

Seek out quiet time

Whether with a run, nap, or meditation, taking time to clear your mind will help you maintain focus, optimize digestion, and give you steadier energy.  A breathing exercise or some time with a good book are worth the time investment if it helps you relax and brings peace.  And getting outside for some physical activity will help keep your metabolism revved up.  Too cold out for a run?  Have a dance party!  On chilly mornings I love to turn up some fun tunes and dance around the living room with my one year old (this may not constitute quiet time, but it certainly makes for a decent workout!).

Be thankful

The holidays are all about love and gratitude.  But so often we get swept away in the traditions and demands of the season that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  Keep your perspective in check by leaving small reminders around that “represent” your thankfulness; small tokens that shift your thoughts to the joys–rather than the stressors–of life.

Try this: name something you’re thankful for in your life.  Next, find a small trinket that can represent this thought.  It can be a simple necklace, a scented candle, a plant, even a mug – something that will be on or around you as you move through the holidays.  So when you catch a glimpse of this item, your mind will immediately go to the thankful thought.  Voila!  Instant mood enhancer.

I love this last tip and practice it year round.  And same goes for the other four.  After all, big meals and chaotic periods aren’t just limited to the holidays!  Just because we can’t always control our environment, doesn’t mean we should withdraw from the fun and feasting of the season.  Quality of life matters, which why it is important to have tools in our tool belt that allow us to have our pie and eat it too!