Last week our Office Manager Eileen and our Nutritionist, Kathryn Terry, had a great conversation about health during the holidays. Eileen thought some of Kathryn’s points were important enough to be shared and asked Kathryn to write about 5 habits of her normal routine that she sees as essential for her health, especially during the holiday season. Here is Kathryn’s top 5 below.
Sleep pops in my mind first because if I do fall short in one of these categories when my schedule is busier, it is sleep. I have learned in more recent years that I have to make it a number one priority as it is my body’s main time to restore and recover from the chaos and stress around me. More stress on the body= more sleep needed. Give yourself an absolute time on both ends of your sleep cycle. An absolute “no later to bed than” and a “will not sleep later than.” Strict bedtime boundaries are important to set when the to-do lists are long as they make us prioritize what has to get done immediately vs what can get done tomorrow, fostering healthy tasking relationship development at the same time.
A smaller wake-up window is crucial as well. Your body has a specific time for its needed cortisol pop, or “natural delivery of caffeine” in the morning to wake you up. Waking up way before or way after this natural pop often can confuse your body and lead to a decrease in the strength of the initial pop we desire to wake us up. This pop can be crucial to energy supply in the early morning especially and will keep us from walking to the coffee machine like a zombie on repeat.
2) Stress Outlet
You may initially laugh when I say, “when you are busy, make sure to make time for you too”, but this mindset is important now more than ever. Remember the phrase your grandma said, “Fill your cup up so it can overflow into others”? I believe this to my core and have seen great benefit in finding just a few minutes to dedicate toward restoration and recovery for not only the body and the soul. Bonus points if you enjoy both at the same time. For me, a long run is a good mental fix, and even better if I can talk with a friend along the way. Find something small daily that makes your shoulders relax from your ears, brings a smile to your face, and maybe even a laugh to your lips.
3) Planning Ahead For Meals
My husband makes fun of me sometimes to the extent I plan ahead, but I find great reward in these strategies, especially during the holidays. Whether you are out shopping, running extra holiday errands, or simply stuck in traffic for longer than normal, having some on-the-go snacks in the glove box, purse, diaper bag (but for you, not the baby) fanny pack (I don’t judge here), can prevent you from making a quick food, instant gratifying decision, you might regret just 10 minutes later.
Planning ahead for food also includes your trips to the grocery store. I do this by printing out a weekly calendar figuring out roughly what meals we want to have each night, and then I make sure my grocery list matches. This helps cut down on our contact with other people in the grocery store and allows you to maximize your time during this specifically chaotic season. Did I mention this will help save money too? I think we can all benefit from that during the holidays…
4) Continuous Learning
Despite a hectic schedule making time to read and educate yourself on topics of interest can keep your mind sharp. Whether you are keeping up with a medical news outlet, slowly pursuing a new certification, or are reading a new post from a certified healthcare professional, just a few minutes a day to continue expanding your knowledge on a subject of your interest will not only expand your knowledge on the subject, but give you the accomplished feeling that learning something new can provide. (And you didn’t have to even get up for this one!)
Water intake is one of my first discussion points with all of my nutrition clients, as well as my family and friends when they ask how to optimize their nutrition habits because it is THAT important. The biggest impact water can make during your holiday season (besides keeping you hydrated for normal functions) is aiding in your digestion. Continual water drinking, especially after a meal can aid in nutrient breakdown and transport of nutrients to the rest of your body. The general recommendation is ½ your body weight in ounces per day.