'Tis the season! You're running around harried, stressed and trying your very best to accomplish all the details of the holidays - BUT - are you taking time to care for yourself? The flu has reached "widespread" levels here in Kentucky, a great reminder that self-care should be #1 on your to-do list. Coming down with true influenza can knock you out for several weeks - whereas a cold or other virus, generally runs its course in a week or so. Either way, I don't want you to get sick and certainly, neither do you! The pillars of HEALTH & HAPPINESS this time of year (and any time of the year really) include: 1.) Hydration 2.) Healthy Eating and 3.) Hibernation
Hydration: We all know it's important to drink water, even more so this time of year. Everything dries out a little more being indoors with artificial heat, not to mention the cool, winter dryness outside! Hydration does NOT include anything that contains caffeine: coffee, soda, black/green tea (and sweet tea). It also does NOT include alcoholic beverages - all of these types of drinks DEhydrate vs. REhydrate. When in doubt, drink - WATER. Limit or avoid fruit juices (or cut with water), though water (hot or room temp) with lemon slices is a GREAT immune booster. Add a little local, raw honey to taste. Also, stick to herbal teas. These are teas with an herbal base instead of a tea base. Ginger tea is also an amazing immune booster. Drink up!
Healthy Eating: It's the time for annual subterfuge of the "diet". Delicious treats are everywhere and the idea here is everything in MODERATION. If you are going to attend an event or gathering where you know you will likely be challenged with eating, have a small, healthy snack or meal at home before you go. You'll be surprised how much stronger your self-control will be if you are already partially or completely full. Save a little room for a special treat! If you feel yourself coming down with something or energy is running low, throw together some chicken noodle soup (there's a reason it's comfort food) or my favorite alternative - sautee chopped garlic, then add your favorite broth and veggies to simmer. You may choose to add rice or rice noodles. Top with fresh chopped green onions, cilantro and bean sprouts. Add your favorite spice or hot sauce to SWEAT OUT whatever is coming on. This is truly a go-to meal for staying healthy. If you're familiar with pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) work to create something similar.
Hibernate: I cannot stress the importance of sleep and relaxation! Really, I place proper, restorative sleep BEFORE exercise (important in its own right though - this is NOT me telling you to NOT exercise). Sleep is when our body heals and recuperates. Without enough substantive sleep, you're going to have problems - and likely feel like le crap (pardon my French). Chinese medicine is all about moderation and balance. Our society is very go-go-go, fast-paced. Always on the move to the next event, crossing off another item on the to-do list. I encourage you to find the balance. That means, completing tasks in a mindful and present manner (maybe not cutting the next guy off at the light, but letting him go in front of you?) and finding equal enjoyment in quiet tasks and then shutting down for 8 hours of shut-eye.
If you have particular challenges around any of these three, know that we all do! And what we may excel at one, we flounder a bit with another. If you want a little push in the right direction, know that I'm here to help! And if you start to feel off, come in for a treatment A.S.A.P.! Here's to your holiday season and may it be bright and healthful! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.