The Best Ways to Stay Healthy and Happy During the Holidays (Holiday Challenge!)
Is taking care of yourself a priority during the holidays? Do you put your health and wellbeing on the back burner knowing that the new year is right around the corner?
“If you don’t have 10-minutes for yourself, you don’t have a life!” – Tony Robbins
I recently attended Unleash the Power Within with Tony Robbins—it was amazing! During the empowering 4-day event, Tony said a lot of things that stuck, and this was one of them: “If you don’t have 10-minutes for yourself, you don’t have a life”.
In my work as a coach and workplace wellness professional, I’ve found that if someone has trouble making time for themselves during the holidays, they usually struggle with this throughout the rest of the year too.
I can’t tell you how many times my coaching clients tell me that they don’t have the time to do the things that they know they need to do if they want to see the results they’re after. What’s worse is that many people actually believe this statement to be true. Yikes!
Believing that you do not have time for yourself can be extremely detrimental to not only your health, but your happiness.
Take a moment to reflect for yourself, is this you? Do you constantly find yourself saying “I don’t have time for that” when it comes to doing things to nurture your body, mind and spirit? If so, it is time to make a change. Do not wait until Jan. 1 to start making time for yourself. Start now, today.
The best was to achieve any outcome is to take immediate action toward to result you desire. Not to wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.
There are Many Paths to Vibrant Wellbeing
My personal path to wellbeing often changes—I experiment with and adopt new daily and weekly practices for a while, only to change them up again depending on what’s working and my circumstances—but the outcome, or result I’m after, is always the same: to feel and be my very best.
Despite the fact that my routines change, there is one variable that remains constant: taking time to nurture my mind, body and spirit regularly. I’ve put together a simple Happy Holidays Challenge to support you in both feeling amazing through the holidays and building the habit of taking time for yourself.
OmBody Happy Holidays Challenge
Download the Challenge Guide and Calendar to get started!
Step 1: Write down the outcome or result(s) you’re after. How do you want to look and feel at the end of the challenge? What do you want to have accomplished?
Step 2: Write down your purpose for doing this challenge. Why do you want to achieve this out outcome?
Step 3: Designate how long and how many days per week you want to follow the challenge.
- Just getting started on a healthy path? I recommend 2-4 days/week.
- Already pretty healthy, but want to ensure you don’t falter? I recommend 4-6 days/week.
- Want to feel amazing this holiday season? I recommend 5-7 days/week.
Tip: Setting a range gives you some flexibility, making you more likely to stick with it on weeks you do less than you’d like and to go above and beyond on weeks you feel unstoppable.
Step 4: Choose how often you would like to perform action items 1 to 3 below and set an alarm or reminder on your phone (do it now!).
- Just getting started on a healthy path? I recommend 2-3 times/day (e.g., once in the morning, once mid-day, and once at night).
- Already pretty healthy, but want to ensure you don’t falter? I recommend every 3-4 hours.
- Want to feel amazing this holiday season? I recommend every 2 hours.
Tip: It is important that you set yourself up for success. Choose something you will follow through with.
Step 5: Plan out your week by staring or highlighting the days on your calendar you plan to participate this week. Think through a plan for yourself to ensure you can be successful. I suggest planning your week this way each Sunday throughout the challenge.
Step 6: Start NOW by doing steps 1-3 below.
Oxygen is the number one most important component of cellular health and vitality; thus, it is the number one most important component of our health and vitality (without it we die in minutes)! The problem is, most of us are breathing the wrong way.
“Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would simply be to learn how to breathe correctly. There is no single more powerful – or more simple- daily practice to further your health and wellbeing than breath.” – Dr. Andrew Weil
We naturally know how to breathe when we are first born, just watch a baby (or your cat or dog) and you will see their belly rise and fall as they breathe. As adults, most of us unconsciously pull our belly in as we inhale, directing our breath into the upper lungs or chest region and constricting the flow of oxygen to our lower lungs.
The anatomy of our lungs is such that the bulk of our alveoli—the little sacs responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of bloodstream—are accumulated in our lower lungs. Thus, when we regularly breathe into the chest and not the belly, we are circulating less oxygen to our cells and accelerating the aging process at the cellular level.
Challenge: Do 3 rounds of 5:20:10 breathing each time your alarm goes off.
Try this technique throughout your day to oxygenate your cells and reboot your brain.
- Inhale through your nose or mouth for a count of 5 (count silently to yourself). To ensure proper breathing, make sure to draw your inhale below your diaphragm, down to your lower lungs; to do so, let your belly rise and expand as you breathe in.
- Hold the breath in for a count of 20.
- Exhale for a count of 10. The longer exhale allows your body to release any stale carbon dioxide and has a cleansing effect on the bloodstream.
Note: It’s completely normal to feel a tad bit lightheaded when you do this. It’s a good thing! It means you’re getting lots of fresh oxygen to your brain.
Water is the second most important component to human health and vitality. It is an essential component of all living matter and the largest single component in our body. Water it critical for digestion, circulation, excretion/elimination of toxins. It dictates the rate at which neurons can fire in your brain, it carries nutrients throughout your body, regulates your body temperature, and is a major building material for growth and repair of cells.
Challenge: Drink an 8 oz glass of water every time your alarm goes off (at least).
If you really want to stay hydrated to optimize all of the processes above, try to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. (For example: if you weigh 150 lbs., you should drink 75 oz. water.)
You may have heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking”, which speaks to the dangers of being sedentary. Like oxygen and water, movement is also an essential component to our health and vitality.
Challenge: Stand up and move every time your alarm goes off.
At the very least take a quick walk and/or stretch. For maximum benefit, try one of the 3 to 5-minute sequences below.
- Stretch at your desk in under 5-minutes.
- I love this sequence from Egoscue designed to counteract our sitting and texting/typing postures to restore postural balance for peak state and performance, help you to live pain free and awaken your diaphragm to improve your breathing patterns and health.
Food, another essential component of our health and vitality—are you sensing a theme here? —can either energize us and help us feel amazing, or it can weigh us down and make us sluggish and even sick. It can be easy to fall off of our normal eating patterns during the holidays, but I find that as long as I’m focused on including lots of veggies and fruits most days, a few treats once in a while doesn’t take as much of a toll on my energy levels and overall vitality.
Challenge: Eat 50 – 70% vegetables and fruits on the days you are participating in the challenge (recall step 3 above when you chose your number or range of days per week).
Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat salad all of the time. For those of us in Maine, eating an excess of raw vegetables in the winter time may not work well for your body, I know it doesn’t for mine. Cooked vegetables (and fruits in your morning oatmeal) are great, just make sure you’re getting them in!
Tip: The healthiest way to cook your veggies is to lightly steam them, then season with cold-pressed olive oil and spices. You can also lightly sauté them over medium heat using olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or butter. Soups, crockpots and smoothies are also great ways to get more veggies into your diet.
Just the action of cultivating gratitude has been shown to improve psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing, making us feel happier and more satisfied with our lives (read more on the science of gratitude here).
Challenge: Take time for gratitude each day you are participating in the challenge.
Here are a few ideas:
- Keep a gratitude journal and as you lie down for bed, write down 1 to 3 things that you are thankful for from that day.
- Sit still, place your hands over your heart so you can feel your heartbeat, and recall 3 memories (one at a time) that you are grateful for. These memories could be from your childhood, years ago, or just the other day. For about 1-minute each, recall how you felt, who you were with, what you saw, any details you can remember, all while breathing into your heart space. This is a powerful practice and a great way to start the day!
Eliminate 2 things (optional)
We all have those pesky little habits that we know deep down do not allow us to be and feel our best, yet we do them anyways. We certainly do not need to strive for perfection, nor would I ever recommend or wish this on anyone.
However, I do find it healthy and useful to acknowledge without giving into my urges and cravings. This practice helps to remind us that we are in the driver’s seat of our choices and our lives. Impulses will continue to be there, habits will continue to have their pull, but when we can watch a craving or discomfort arise and consciously choose to respond in a new way, we take our power back and we build the skill of acting in alignment with our deepest truth and desires for our life.
Challenge: Eliminate 2 things that are not supporting your wellbeing and vitality during the days you are participating in the challenge.
Examples include: dairy, coffee, alcohol, TV, social media, smoking, sugar, etc.
The best way to stay healthy and happy during the holidays, and any other time of year, is to take regular, consistent action toward nurturing your body, mind and spirit in the most basic ways. Simply do the things that help your body thrive at the cellular level and exercise your mindfulness muscle by taking pause, checking in, and watching any resistance that comes up. You do not have to eat perfectly and run 2 miles a day, but you do need to take time for yourself.
As you move and smile your way through the holidays, make sure to keep your outcome and purpose front of mind. Revisit these statements daily throughout the challenge if you can and feel free to refine them as they evolve become clearer. Staying connected to the deeper motivation and meaning behind your daily action steps will make doing them easier and more fulfilling.
As always, be gentle with yourself along the journey, know you can ALWAYS recommit if you get off track, and HAVE FUN!
Download the Happy Holidays Challenge Guide and Calendar!
About the Author
Allison Andrews, M.Ed, Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist, Certified Health Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher
Allie is the Founder and Program Director at OmBody Health. In addition to coaching thought-leaders, executives and professionals to maximize their impact and quality of life, she and her team empower organizations to develop work cultures that foster employee health, happiness and engagement.