Have a fun, healthy holiday and don’t forget your pants!
Do you remember this Christmas commercial that aired almost 20 years ago? The hostess completes the preparations for her Christmas party. As she anticipates her guests’ arrival, she lights the festive candles, presses play on the holiday themed music. Even the dog is ready – adorned with a set of reindeer antlers. As the doorbell rings, she looks around, very pleased that she pulled it all off. “I really got my act together this year,” she says. “I don’t think there’s one thing I’ve forgotten.” As she heads to open the door, we see that in fact, she has forgotten one important detail, her pants!
All joking aside, the holidays can be a particularly triggering and stressful time for many people. An online survey conducted by Research Co. last year found that one-in-four Canadians expected Christmas to be “more stressful than fun.” We are often left feeling like we never have enough, that we’ve overspent and overindulged. It can also be a very lonely and isolating time of year. Then there is the fatigue and the increase in colds and flu that happen during the winter months. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget about our own mental, emotional and physical health.
Tabitha Coleman, designer and founder of TABITHA + CO™, knows all too well about managing a busy life this time of year. “Finding work/life balance as a mother and entrepreneur has been my biggest challenge at this time in my life,” she says. In spite of these challenges, she knows how important it is to make her health a priority. “I commit to setting aside at least one hour per day for some form of physical exercise. It helps my mind focus on day-to-day life goals, fostering creativity and for my overall physical health. This in turn provides me with the tools to be a better mom to my children and support my growing company. Setting this example for my children of overall wellbeing provides them with optional tools as they journey into their own form of life balance and self care.”
One of the things I love about Naturopathic Medicine is its connection to nature and the rhythms of life. Naturopathic Doctor, Sat Dharam Kaur explains, “The solar seasons, the lunar phases, our daily waking and sleeping, our menstrual cycle and hormone levels, our breathing patterns and heartbeat…these natural rhythms are encoded in our cells and in our genes. We are all part of the great rhythms of the universe.” Disease or ‘dis-ease’ can happen when we lose our connection and are out of sync with these natural cycles.
As we head into this hectic time of year, it is important to honour the rhythm of the winter season and to be aware of what it is that our minds and bodies need to feel well. Are you experiencing more anxiety coming into the holiday season? Are pre-existing medical conditions flaring up this time of year? Are you not sleeping well or are you finding you need more rest compared to the spring and summer months?
Dr. Kaur reminds us, “On the winter solstice, occurring December 21st in the northern hemisphere, the sun rises the latest and sets the earliest, giving us the shortest day and the longest night of the year. This is a time for us to go deeply within, to bring light to the dark places, the shadow side of ourselves, just as on this day the sun casts the longest shadows.”
The short days and longer nights can definitely have a dampening effect on our spirits. One way to ease the “winter blues” is to get out into the open air into nature. However, despite our time spent outside, research shows that many Canadians are not getting enough vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin). With its essential role in maintaining health (i.e., our immune system and mental health), it is important to have your vitamin D levels checked through blood work. Getting this simple test done, and taking a vitamin D supplement, if required, can be one of the best gifts you give yourself this season.
It is a challenge to keep the schedule from becoming too packed with activities. Yet, if we can be open to the gifts that winter brings, as noted by Dr. Sat Dharam Kaur, we can reap the benefits of the season. Keeping time in the schedule for creative activities, and for quiet time alone, is another way to keep a healthy balance in our lives.
The winter season has been a part of the human experience for millennia. Taking the time and energy to care for ourselves will ensure that we can have fun, work hard, and still remember to put on our pants!