Written by Katie Troyer.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, our own health can easily slide to the back burner (that homemade candy you’re trying not to burn is occupying the front burners!). This time of year that touts peace and joy becomes a whirlwind of hurried “to-dos,” and, often, neglected self-care.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are some simple tips (in no particular order) toward greater health, peace and wellbeing this season.
Fuel for fun.
Our diet greatly impacts our energy levels and how we feel. Good nutrition and moderation, including appropriate portion-sizes, will keep you feeling energized throughout the festivities. As you prepare for family gatherings, explore new recipes or moderations to old favorites that will provide greater nutritional value to you and those you love. Savor that slice of grandma’s pie- just don’t go back for seconds.
Research shows that, aside from well-known physiological benefits, physical activity also boosts energy and mood. Additional emotional and psychological benefits may be experienced by exercising with others or outdoors. A quiet, “unplugged” walk in nature is a wonderful opportunity to experience the beauty and peace of the season.
Make time to rest.
Aside from getting a good night’s sleep, restful practices such as prayer and meditation have been found to have a profound impact on overall health and wellbeing. If you struggle to find time for stillness, evaluate your schedule and see what you can let go of. Is a certain activity truly meaningful or important, or does it simply add to the “busyness”? Then find a space and means (e.g. self-directed vs use of an app, etc) where you can feel at rest to read scripture, pray, meditate, etc. Remain consistent and experience the benefits of intentional rest on your thoughts, attitude, and mood.
Connect with those you love.
This seems like a no-brainer, especially this time of year. But sometimes the tasks of the season distract us, making it difficult to simply be present and attentive to the needs of those we love the most. Maybe make a list of the people in your life you wish to show care for this season, and specific ways you want to do that. Whether it is quality time together, a shared meal or a thoughtful note, both of you will reap the benefits.
Listen to music…and sing along!
Singing is one of the easiest and most accessible means to boost your mood…and ‘tis the season to celebrate with song. Listening to music, especially up-tempo music with lyrics you find uplifting, has been shown to have multiple benefits on personal wellbeing. Singing oneself provides even more benefits, regardless of your perceived and/or actual abilities! Emotional and psychological benefits can be further amplified by singing as part of group. So whether you join the church choir, carol with a group of friends or find yourself belting “Let it Snow” in the shower, Christmastime is a great time to try on the benefits of singing for yourself.
Choose to receive grace.
As I bustle about with my own Christmas preparations, the nativity scene on my piano gives me pause, reminding me of the profound and yet beautifully simple “reason for the season.” The sight of Mary holding baby Jesus brings a sense of quiet, a sense of love, a sense of hope to my spirit.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas, represents God’s great love for us, His beloved creation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This is the best news and gift since that very first Christmas. Jesus came and died so that we may have “life to the full” and the hope of eternal life with God in Heaven. In this busy season and into the new year, I encourage you to pause: Thank, accept and seek Jesus continued to experience the “full” life that only He provides- a life where His joy, peace and love are available to us at all times, independent of our circumstances. Cultivate a healthy spirit for a fulfilling and purposeful life.