Wondering How to Relax Your Body During the Holidays? These tips are sure to help you get your body out of fight-or-flight mode, where the majority of us live, and get you back into your rest-and-relaxation mode so that your body can perform it’s functions to the best of it’s ability. I hope you find the below tips helpful while you’re traveling, baking, wrapping presents and cooking all season long.
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Throughout the past few years so many people have asked me how to relax your body during the holidays and how I stick to my clean eating lifestyle. I tell them, “It’s a lifestyle, not a diet”. I don’t diet or deprive myself and that’s how I’m able to keep my body functioning optimally. Since adding in down time, relaxation, self-care practices, more lean proteins and healthy fats into my life, I have more energy than I’ve ever had and I don’t crave carbs and sugar like I did in my early 20’s.
So why is it that so many of us wait until January 1st to start feeling amazing?
You don’t have to wait until the New Year to revamp your lifestyle; you can start taking care of yourself today. Finding balance and nourishing yourself during the holidays includes the food you eat, the people you surround yourself with, the thoughts that keep circling through your mind and regular self-care practices. With our fast-paced lifestyles, many people feel guilty about resting, taking care of ourselves or having downtime, however, if we don’t cultivate this time for ourselves, our nervous system and immune system will start to get out of balance, leading to unwanted symptoms and health issues. So, this year, start your New Year, New You right now- before the holidays kick in and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how incredible you really can feel.
Holiday Clean Eating Tips
To get that warming fix of comfort foods without overdoing it this holiday season try a few of the below tips so you can feel energized without feeling weighed down, bloated and lethargic by the time you’re heading back to work in January. Remember, clean eating is a lifestyle. It’s about cultivating a way of eating that works for you- not what works for everyone else. There’s no deprivation but there is plenty of fresh, whole foods, healthy fats, protein and fiber. Try a few of the below tips and notice the difference you feel in your digestion and energy levels. I assure you, after you start eating clean, you’ll never go back to your old ways of eating again. You’ll feel too good to reach for something processed!
- Try Coconut Butter and Coconut Oil. Coconut butter is delicious and super thick. It’s perfect to add to hot cocoa recipes or to use for baking, stir-fries and stuffing. Toss the conventional butter that’s lurking in your fridge and use coconut butter or coconut oil in place of butter and butter substitutes in your baking and cooking recipes for a boost of real flavor without the inflammatory ingredients.
- Reach for Gluten-Free Whole Grains. Cook up a batch of your favorite gluten-free grains on Sunday nights so you’re prepped for the week. Reach for grains such as quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, wild rice and sorghum and use them throughout the week in tacos, fajitas, rice pudding, pilafs and more. Toss in your favorite fresh herbs, drizzle on some avocado or extra-virgin olive oil and a handful of your favorite nuts or seeds and you have a delicious and easy meal.
- Use Anti-Inflammatory Flours. Use almond flour, coconut flour and chickpea flour to make breads, cookies, cakes, breads and crackers that are filling and hearty without the fillers and inflammatory ingredients that can lead to everything from acne to exhaustion to weight gain and inflammation. These flours are full of fiber, protein and nutrients, unlike all-purpose flour, which is highly inflammatory. Try my almond cracker recipe and serve them with a spread of coconut butter or your favorite nut or seed butter such as cashew butter with a pinch of sea salt on top.
- Add Warming Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple pie spices are comforting and great to add to oatmeal, cereal and coconut milk yogurt. You can even add a little bit into a cup of warm almond milk for a naturally sweet evening beverage.
- Add Fresh Thyme and Rosemary. These herbs will do wonders for your taste buds; you won’t need the chemical-laden marinades. Just use fresh lemon juice, olive oil and fresh thyme or rosemary when roasting veggies.
- Add Full-Fat Coconut Milk. Don’t fear fat; we all need fat to ensure our hormones and our entire body is running smoothly! This full-fat coconut milk will add a lot of flavor to your stir-fries, smoothies, and desserts for an extra creamy consistency without the dairy.
- Add in Probiotics. Almost 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut, which means we need a healthy gut for a healthy body! That’s where probiotics come into play and probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, chickpea miso and pickles.
- Snack on Nuts and Seeds. Eat raw or sprouted nuts and seeds before going out to dinner or before heading out to your holiday or New Year’s Eve party. Try a handful of raw walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds. Avoid the roasted, salted nuts because they are highly inflammatory and made from refined vegetable oils and refined salt. Eating healthy fat will help curb your cravings so you don’t attack the appetizers or desserts.
- Make Warm Smoothies. The weather outside is chilly for many of us so the idea of a smoothie is a bit too cold to think about when there’s snow outside. Make yourself some warm, soothing smoothies with warm fruits and veggies. Here’s what I like to do: I roast a sweet potato and place the warm potato it in a high speed blender with warm almond milk, almond butter and cinnamon! Or you can warm up some frozen berries on the stove-top with water and honey and add these warm fruits to a high speed blender with full-fat coconut milk, cashews and a room temperature banana. Feed your body warm foods this time of the year and forgo those ice cold smoothies until spring rolls around. Your organs and your digestion will thank you. Trust me.
Cultivating Inner Peace: Gentle Detoxifying Self-Care Practices
Nourishment isn’t just from the foods we eat, it’s also about the way we take care of ourselves and respect our body on a daily basis. Inner peace: it’s one of those things that has taken me years to understand and grasp. The holiday seasons in my 20’s were complete chaos: shopping, cooking, cleaning, traveling, etc. When I got to my 30’s I had to learn how to slow down, let go, and find more quiet time to reboot my system. For me, inner peace is about saying ‘No’ when you really don’t want to do something, removing toxic thoughts from your mind, removing toxic people from your life, slowing down the way you eat your meals, cultivating gentle self-care practices for yourself on a daily basis, and learning how to love yourself- clichés aside.
So, you’re probably wondering, “How does one learn how to cultivate inner peace”? It’s something that many of us didn’t grow up learning how to embrace- let alone understand what ‘inner peace’ really meant. Many of us don’t know how to find happiness and calmness inside of ourselves. Instead we look for fulfillment, joy and completeness in external things (such as clothes, cars, promotions, a boyfriend, etc.). We’re often so bogged down with emails, social media, deadlines and more that we forget how to recharge our batteries by embracing alone time, resting, and witnessing our thought patterns to change the way we look at life. Furthermore, the majority of us weren’t taught any tools to handle the hundreds of daily stressors we’re bombarded by in our food, emails, work, deadlines, toxic relationships, family troubles, health issues, hectic travel schedules and more. It wasn’t until 7 years into my chronic health journey that I learned how to cultivate inner peace within myself and truly learn how to nourish myself beyond food. It was a process, I’m not going to lie. And I’m sure it will be a process for many of you, but it will do wonders for your health and overall energy. It will also change the vibe that you put out into the world so life starts to flow for you instead of making you feel like you’re a gerbil in a cage.
Here are a few ways I decompress, detox and cultivate inner peace during the busy holiday season and well into the New Year. Pick a few below that stand out to you and try them this week so you feel rejuvenated and not depleted by the time New Year’s rolls around.
SHOP the STORY
- Epsom Salt Bath: Wondering how to relax your body? Epsom salts are detoxifying and are a great way to absorb magnesium, which will help you relax. All you need to do is fill up your bath tub with warm water and add the entire carton of Epsom salts. Soak in the tub for at least 30 minutes. For an extra touch, add a few drops of organic essential oils (such as lavender) for yourself. Try doing this the night before you travel and again when you get home from your trip.
- Exfoliate: The night before you leave, exfoliate your body with a scrub or raw sugar mixed with almond oil and essential oils. This is a great way to get your skin feeling silky smooth and will help relax you while detoxing dead skin off your body.
- An Easy Read: Sometimes the best way to chill out is to curl up under your blankets with a cup of tea and read an inspiring and uplifting book.
- Earbuds: These are a must-have for the holidays. I always pack my earbuds to listen to my favorite music on my phone. It’s an easy way to calm you down when you’re meditating or need some alone, quiet time to escape from the family for a few minutes during the holidays.
- Eye Mask: I started using an eye mask last year and now I can’t sleep without one. It helps me relax my body and I bring this with me when I travel to make everything nice and dark so that I can sleep on planes when it’s bright outside. I use an eye mask every night and it blocks out the light from my alarm clock, phone and bathroom that often distract me falling asleep.
- Compassion Meditation: Another tip to help you relax your body is to sit with yourself in meditation and put your hands over your heart. Feel compassion for yourself and let yourself relax and breathe into your heart, filling your body up with compassion. This is a great way to increase your self-love and allows you to be gentler with yourself, especially when things don’t go as planned during your holiday travel. It’s also key to feel gratitude for your life and the challenges that you’ve encountered this year, which have made you stronger.
- Skin Brushing: Skin brushing is a great way to activate your lymphatic system, which doesn’t have a pump! Our blood has a pump (our heart) but our lymph system doesn’t so we need to support it with skin brushing to move the toxins out of your lymph. This is ideal for those of us who sit on a plane, train or in a car for a long period of time! This is the skin brush I use.
- Body Oil: When the weather gets cold, my skin gets super dry and flakey and I couldn’t find a moisturizer that helped moisten up my skin so I recently started using oils instead and my whole body started to glow. I use organic almond oil on my face and on my body every day after my warm shower (not a hot shower because that will dry out your skin even more). I also put the almond oil on my face and body before I get into bed at night. It’s incredibly soothing and my skin has never looked better. If you’re tired of staring at your dry feet, elbows and knees, reach for some almond oil to sooth and rejuvenate your skin. Note: I add the oil after I do my skin brushing (above).
- Acupuncture, Massage and Bodywork: Massage is incredibly relaxing and helps with our circulation. It’s also great for releasing toxins in areas where they build up in our fat cells. Make sure to drink plenty of water to flush out all the toxins after getting any type of bodywork done. You can do any type of bodywork the week before and after your travel to get your body into a deep relaxation mode.
- Movement: Exercise is a great way to help circulate or blood and lymphatic system. This doesn’t have to be intense exercise; it can be gently yoga. Move your body for at least 30 minutes a day to get your lymph and circulation flowing.
- Sleep: Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night will help your body regenerate, recover and repair so you function optimally while you’re traveling. Lack of sleep compromises your immune system, depletes your energy and effects your willpower which means you can reach for the donuts instead of making yourself a healthy smoothie.