It’s here – the happiest time of the year…. well, the happiest that is if you take the holiday season for what it really is – a time to connect and relax with friends and family. For too many of us, the holidays become a period of intense stress and chaos.
2017 is the time to put an end to the negative holiday cycle. This year, we want you to have the best holiday season possible – whatever this means to you. Yes, the holidays mean something different to each of us. Regardless of your family, friends, and other pressures – it’s important to remember to let go of expectation and just enjoy the times together.
There is no way around it, holiday travel is stressful. The costs, the planning, the juggling, and the time spent in planes, cars, trains, and buses can add up to an unpleasant experience. While there is no way to get around the crowds that come with holiday travel, you can take steps to reduce the frenetic nature of this travel season.
- Plan ahead. This applies to booking flights, planning driving routes, and arranging for pick-ups at your destination. It also applies to packing and planning on how you’ll spend your time at your holiday destination. It is nice to take a relaxed play-it-by-ear approach to travel, however during the holiday season, the more you plan ahead, the more relaxed your travel will be.
- Kids. Your kids are not immune to the stresses and impacts of holiday travel. Routine is important to kids and holiday travel is a huge disruption to the day-to-day. Prepare your kids for the travel, let them choose their favorite toy (or two), and make sure your kids have multiple opportunities to burn off their endless energy.
- Have some space. Don’t stay with family. Yes, that’s right – stay at a B & B, hotel, or Airbnb instead of cramming yourself and family into one spare room or into a slightly damp basement. You need to sleep comfortably and have the space to relax and unwind – this is often not possible when you stay with family.
The holidays come packed with lots of tradition and for many of us this includes eating family favorites. Whether it’s your great-aunt’s cranberry sauce or your mom’s sweet potato dish or your brother-in-law’s holiday cookies – there is a lot expectation wrapped up in these dishes.
Not eating a special dish or skipping the multiple trays of snack foods and sweets can be a real challenge for anyone who has food intolerances or simply just doesn’t like a specific dish. To skip the hurt feelings and resentment from others when you don’t eat some foods, follow these tips:
- Speak up. Remember, you’re with family and friends – don’t feel shy to speak up and let your loved ones know about your food intolerances or foods you simply can’t eat. Explain why you can’t eat nuts, corn, or wheat – however, when you do this don’t imply that your host make something special for you.
- Bring food. It’s the holiday season and the general feeling is – the more food the better. Plan ahead and bring a favorite dish or two that you know you’ll be able to eat and know that others will enjoy. This way it’s not obvious when you’re eating only vegetables or are skipping the chocolate yule log.
- Don’t make a fuss. You might come across a host who doesn’t believe in food intolerances (yes, this happens). If this happens to you, just roll with it. Be prepared for a limited meal and remind yourself that you’ve got lots of food waiting for you at home or wherever you’re staying (another reason not to stay with family or friends during the holidays).
- Stay calm. Now, we’re not advocating meditation at the holiday supper table, rather we want you to focus on happy, calming thoughts. When you’ve had to explain your gluten intolerance for the sixth time to the same person, it can be a bit frustrating. Take a deep breathe, explain your situation, smile, and snack on some carrots and hummus.
“Ah, it’s the holidays – skip your daily run and have an extra slice of cake,” or “What you’re going for a long walk on Christmas morning? But it’s the holidays – take a break.” We’ve all heard similar comments from friends and family.
If there is one thing we know for sure, during the holidays, it’s important that you maintain your healthy living habits. You are under extra stress and pressure during the holidays and this has a huge impact on your immune system. Exercising, fresh air, and good mental health are all positives for your immune system.
Your body is used to a routine of a daily run or walk, a yoga practice, healthy foods, and taking the time to relax. You need to stay healthy and feeling your best – so go for that walk, skip the dessert (if you want), drink your green juice, and remember the benefits of a strong immune system.
We want to hear from you, visit the AHCC Research Association Facebook community page and tell us how you plan to survive the holidays.