written by Raulla S. Mitchell
Want to shine, shimmer and dazzle this season, but feeling like you’re sliding into overdrive or pandemic sadness? Thanksgiving travels, or family in from out of town? Or not, this year with the global pandemic still hanging on and creating concern for you and your vulnerable loved ones? Many of us are deeply missing our families who live far away from us, and choose to stay put, and not risk air travel at this time. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday,…what’s next…marketing names and games to get you out of the house and into the stores (or on-line as many of us are doing to stay safe) for uber holiday shopping. Entertaining family and friends, and parties that normally sweep you away on a magic carpet of energy and excitement may be replaced by smaller nuclear family celebrations, and many of us may be alone this year, and may understandably feel lonely, sad, disheartened. All of these emotions can also leave your your skin fatigued and stressed out.
Skin, the largest organ of your body will show the first visible signs of lifestyle imbalance including excessive dryness, inflammation, acne, eczema, itchiness and irritation. Beautiful skin, at its foundation, begins with healthy lifestyle choices. Your skin is effected by every thought, feeling, emotion and action. If you are stressed out trying to do it all or feeling sad or depressed for any reason (in a seemingly effortless manner), chances are, so is your skin.
Your mind can be comfy in de-Nile, but your skin will tell the truth. Listen to your skin.
10 Ways to reduce and manage stress naturally this holiday season with healthy lifestyle choices (we’re talking big rewards for just a few common sense easy ideas, no major overhaul):
- DIET: Eat healthy meals and small high-protein snacks throughout the day. Try to limit eating after 7h00 p.m. At a holiday party? Nibble less. Chat, listen and charm more. Consumption of alcoholic beverages within moderation. For every glass of wine or alcoholic beverage, drink two glasses of water to rehydrate. Alcohol dries your skin. Eat a balanced meal before going out to a party to curb a desire to binge on salty high fat hors d’oeuvres and sugary desserts. Don’t deprive yourself. You know the 80/20 rule? Great food choices 80% of the time, and leave some wiggle room (20%) to indulge a little with your favorite yummy foods which may fall off the perfectly healthy food list. A glass of wine and nibbling on mostly healthy choices at holiday parties is fine. Your party memories will be of your shared conversations, stories, and laughter, probably not of the food and drinks served.
- VITAMINS: Take a daily multi-vitamin-mineral with a meal, and any other vitamins which may be suggested by your doctor or holistic health care provider. Fish oil, vitamin D and vitamin C are vitamins you might want to consider this winter, especially if you are inside more, out of the sun. Lots of us who consistently use sunscreen are finding that we’re deficient in vitamin D. Chronic vitamin deficiencies are at the root of serious illnesses, so if you’re concerned that you may be low in vitamin D, ask your doctor for a simple blood test, and you’ll find out where you stand on the vitamin D balance spectrum. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention?
- HYDRATION: Drink plenty of water, including warm herbal teas. A large cup of hot water with freshly squeezed lemon is an excellent way to cleanse and detox every morning. Starting your day out right will help to keep you effortlessly on track throughout the day and eve.
- EXERCISE: A mix of cardio, yoga, and weight lifting is ideal for using a variety of muscles and not getting bored with the same old routines. Minimum of 20-30 minutes each day. If you miss a day, just jump right in the next. Balance is key. Just keep going. It takes about a year to incorporate regular daily exercise into your schedule and not fall off the wagon, so to speak. Hang in there for the first year, and this may be the trick to get you hooked forever. While your club or fitness center may be temporarily closed due to COVID restrictions, they may offer links to on-line workouts by excellent instructors, and there are always lots of YouTube videos featuring every kind of workout routine: yoga, dance, cardio, weights, etc.
- Incorporate movement into as many activities as possible. When holiday shopping, park your car a safe distance from the mall or grocery store entrance. Walk briskly to your destination. Walk up and down stairs and escalators rather than take the elevator. While watching holiday classics on television, grab a pair of free weights, hop on your treadmill or elliptical, move your hips with a hula hoop, do a few jumping jacks, jog in place or skip rope during commercials. Get in a workout without thinking of it. If you choose a hula hoop, you’ll get the double whammy of an amazing waist to hips ratio and lots of laughter which burns calories too!
- DETOX in a steam room or sauna for 10-15 minutes each day. After spending 15 min in the steam room followed by 15 min in the sauna, I feel like a new woman in mind, body and spirit. It’s like a mini spa. You must try it! Before getting dressed, apply a rich protective moisturizer like a creme or body butter to lock in natural moisture. Your skin will be radiant and glowing all day! If you’re missing your fitness club’s steam room and sauna, and don’t have an at-home sauna, a hot bath is a lovely temporary substitute to relax and cleanse mind and body.
- SLEEP: Get enough zzz’s. This may be between 7-10 hours a night. You know what you need. And, during seasonal transitions and the winter months, you’ll probably need more sleep than at other times of the year.
- If you compromise getting sufficient sleep, you risk weakening your immune system which may in turn interfere with the optimal elimination of toxins from your system. A build-up of internal toxins will seek elimination through your skin with visible signs of skin irritations and discolorations such as sallowness. Lack of sleep will also age your skin, as it reduces the speed of cellular regeneration, allowing dead surface skin cells to remain, clogging pores, and reducing the effectiveness of your topical moisturizing treatments. Your skin will tell you if you need more sleep. And, if you feel yourself starting to slip into sore throat or cold land, sleep it off. Rest and lots of liquids will help you fight off many seasonal cold and general flu germs.
- MEDITATION and DEEP BREATHING. Lower blood pressure, and calm your mind and spirit with meditation and a repeated series of deep inhales and exhales. Start with a gentle long exhale (go shhhhhh) to release air and cleanse your lungs, and then begin your series of inhales and exhales. If you’re new to this, begin with 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase mediation periods to 30 minutes or longer. Sit in a dark quiet room, undisturbed. Concentrate on your breath, and let everything else go. If your mind continues to turn like a gerbil wheel over your grocery list, holiday planning details, work and family commitments, who might have dented the driver’s side of your car in the parking lot while you were enjoying your steam/sauna, and feeling otherwise absolutely fabulous,… return gently to the natural flow of peaceful thoughts, envisioning a peaceful place where you are alone with your thoughts, feelings and sensations. Stay there until it’s time to go. You’ll know when you feel calm and ready to transition.
- PAMPER yourself with fresh natural skincare for the bath with luxurious ingredients and luscious fragrances. The bath is the perfect time to relax and unwind, rejuvenate mind, body and spirit. You’ll discover all the energy you need to enjoy the holidays more than ever, whatever they’ll look like this topsy turvy year 2020! Run the water, generously pour or drop in your bath products – you’re more than worth it – light fragrant candles, sip a hot tea, immerse, and feel everything slip away. You decide when to return, and then you open the door. Not a minute too soon. And I mean it – 99.9% of what’s probably happening on the other side can wait. This is your time.
- CHOOSE to make for YOU top priority. Make no excuses to others. Treat yourself like you would your best friend. Great advice, but who does this, right? But really, just for a moment think about this: Would you insist she take on too much until she collapeses from the stress of not being able to say no? Of course not. See, it’s ridiculous for us to treat ourselves the way we often do when we’re so genuinely kind, forgiving and loving with others. Sure, they deserve our loving graces, but so do we! Treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you extend to others. Time to relax, unwind, detox, balance holiday excitement with quiet times for self-reflection are essential to the health of your mind, body and spirit. It is the foundation on which all else is built. If it crumbles, nothing else will exist. Sounds kinda scary – sorry – but that just highlights how essential self-care is! It’s sort of everything when you think about it.
- LAUGH. Perhaps the best stress buster ever. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I remember laughing with friends about tiny things that just seemed so hilarious to us, and we couldn’t stop laughing. Laughter is contagious energy, and it’s just one of the best feelings in the world. Let yourself go. Enjoy a great big belly laugh (until it hurts)! It can be about anything at all!
Hey, you don’t have to do all ten. It’s not a competition. Just try a few (something new would be great) and see what happens. Let us know your favorite tips to reduce and manage stress, especially over the holidays, when let’s admit it, we all sometimes try to be more Facebook perfect than the rest of the year. Facebook Schmacebook! Be true to you, relax, enjoy, and make beautiful real memories that last through good times and challenging times, like now.
Sending warmest holiday hugs and love. Stay cozy, warm, safe, happy and healthy xo