The Worn Out Mom Holiday Survival Guide

Mom Holiday SurvivalHoliday pressures lead many of us to rely on mile long to-do lists, with attendant feelings of inferiority rather than attending to self-care. Don’t you just love the warm fuzzy holiday feelings of peace and joy?!? (Sarcasm intended.)

Many moms feel the month of December is all about providing experiences for everyone else, and typical self-care strategies just don’t fit in. This month, many people put themselves on the bottom of the priority list. While this may help your family attend more holiday parties or have more decorations around the house, ignoring self-care has its consequences. For example, attending your regular weekly yoga class may be tough to squeeze in, yet doing so will help you feel less stressed, sleep better, and be more present this holiday. Remember, self-care is not selfish.

In order to promote health and mindfulness, consider these three sanity saving pointers:

Have One Hot Meal Sitting Down Per Day

I remember that, when my children were infants, I rarely sat down. As the primary caregiver, I was constantly attending to their needs. I have memories of changing diapers, feeding them, keeping them from pinching the dog, keeping them out of the cat litter, and otherwise protecting this fragile new human. I was sleep deprived, and constantly ate on the run–with one hand. If I couldn’t eat something with one hand, I didn’t eat it. And I wondered why I felt like a chaotic mess!

I read a recommendation from Geneen Roth that changed a big portion of my self-care. She wrote that we all need to sit down and eat one hot meal on a real plate each day. The food choice wasn’t important; rather, it was the time spent sitting and focusing on the meal that was important. This recommendation spoke to me, because I connected with this being an opportunity to nurture and nourish my mind, body and spirit. And, oh boy, I needed that!

Even during chaotic holiday schedules, be sure to give yourself at least one eating opportunity each day to eat mindfully, focusing on just that. You’ll find that it calms you and reenergizes you– so you can continue to keep your little human from sticking metal into electrical outlets or eating the dog food.

Stay Off Pinterest and Other Ways to Avoid Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think this quote by Theodore Roosevelt needs to be on the Pinterest disclaimer page. Holiday traditions and activities involve limitless options for creativity. This is cool–for those who love hodge podging or baking decadent desserts–yet it can lead the rest of us down the dark dreary place of comparison and perfectionism.

Instead of looking into what everyone else is doing, consider the holiday traditions that give you the most joyful feelings. What do you remember as a kid that you want to pass on? Give yourself permission to pick the ones, if any, that you have the mental bandwidth for this holiday season. Resist the urge to search online for what you should be doing. Focus on what you want to do, and practice being okay with limiting the choices. To do this, you may want to avoid some social media, like Pinterest or Facebook, until the urge to compare goes away.

By the way, I love this recommendation so much that I’m deleting the Pinterest app from my phone as I type this! Wheee, that felt good!

Move Your Body in a Way that Feels Good

Human bodies are meant to move, and I don’t mean on treadmills in the “no pain no gain” fashion. Our bodies are designed for movement to promote health and well-being.  Our body also has ways of letting us know that the movement we’ve chosen is one worth repeating by the pleasure it gives us.  By staying aware of your body’s response, you’ll know what your body needs and wants. You’ll know that you’re moving in the right direction (nice pun, right?!?) when the movement feels good.

As you experience the holiday, notice what your body is craving. Do you want to dance to your favorite holiday songs? Take a nighttime stroll to admire the lights? Do you crave stillness? Attend to your body’s desire to move or not, and you’ll notice more connection to the present–and less chaos with what life throws your way.

Happy holidays friends!

Holiday Survive + Thrive: Don’t Skip Meals

DontSkipMeals

The holiday season is upon us, and I want you to feel emotionally and physically well. Hectic schedules and travel are enough to send stress levels to the moon. Throw in pumpkin pie, cookies, and mashed potatoes, and now we’re off to Pluto!

Here’s a secret to help you remain sane this holiday: don’t skip meals. Before you start calculating calories or carbs, consider these reasons.

Skipping meals promotes bingeing

Although it may seem productive to skip breakfast to “allow” for more food consumption later, research has long been suggesting just the opposite.

Every binge starts with not eating enough earlier in the day. Skipping a meal amounts to “prolonged food deprivation”, in which the human brain fixates on food. This makes the celebratory meal even more enticing, and will make it tough to stop eating at a comfortable fullness and satiety level.

If you follow a typical day’s intake of 3 meals and a couple of snacks on the day of the holiday meal, you can then just experience the holiday meal as a normal meal, instead of a binge.

Skipping meals promotes irritability

From the Oxford Dictionary:

han·gry [ˈhaNGɡrē]

ADJECTIVE

bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger: “I get very hangry if I miss a meal”

Have you been hangry? Have you seen the Snickers Candy Bar commercials, where the tag line is: “You’re not YOU when you’re hungry”? Can you relate?

We know that going too long without eating lowers blood sugar. And often, a sign of low blood sugar is irritability. I’ve heard from many people that holiday family time can be trying enough on its own; you definitely don’t want to add your own irritability on top of it!

To keep the peace, at least within yourself, keep to regular meal and snack times.

Allow the focus of the holidays to remain on what’s important

We give food too much power.

Turkey, stuffing, cookies, cakes and other holiday delights taste great and are fun. Avoiding one or more meals to feel justified to eat that one special meal only backfires. Instead of giving permission, it promotes bingeing and moodiness. Even more, meal-skipping keeps our minds focused on eating instead of the reason for the season. Food ends up being a distraction instead of the great connector to holiday traditions, culture, family, and friends.