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Don’t Be Such A Grinch: 10 Tips to Happier Holidays

20 J00000012UTC 2011

I’m a people-watcher. Having a job in both health and retail fosters this passtime. I also love the holidays. I think it’s a magical carry-over from childhood. I like lights and snow (sometimes) and warm drinks and holly. I love getting the Christmas tree and decorating it. I know not everyone has the same experience.

I see a lot of folks who aim for the perfect holiday– the perfect meal, home, tree, gifts, children. With perfectionism comes disappointment. I’ve done it; you have too. Another result is a bunch of people running around Target, World Market, McDonald’s and Macy’s like this:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus,
You’re as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

You’re a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart’s an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You’ve got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.

I wouldn’t touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole

That’s it. People get stressed, mean, pushy and nasty. We forget to unwind, eat balanced meals, sleep enough, play enough, go outside to get enough sun and fresh air. We freak out about the Christmas-15, crazy uncle Phil our perfect mother-in-law and how to be first in line for this year’s equivalent of the Tickle-Me-Elmo. It’s straight-up craziness.

In light of this Grinchy danger, here are 10 Tips to Happier Holidays. Implement a few (or all of these) and no one will sing you above song this year.

1. Plan Ahead & Prepare (stolen from the National Outdoor Leadership School). Instead of going to parties and the office starving and depleted, go with food in your belly, so you don’t binge on balaclava and sausage rolls. Pack snacks and drinks for long shopping days. Pack healthy meals for long travel days. Don’t eat at Kentucky Fried Panda at the mall or airport. You know you’ll regret it ten minutes into the flight.

2. Forego White-on-White. This season, instead of using the usual white flour and white sugar in every. single. recipe. try something new, more nutritionally dense and less processed. Instead of sugar, fake sugar or corn syrup try raw honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar or blackstrap molasses. Instead of white flour try whole wheat, brown rice, almond, garbanzo or coconut. See the Elana’s Pantry and gluten free girl for great recipes.

3. Avoid Your Allergens. As easy or tempting as it may be to consume the fountain of Velveeta and cauldron of ranch dip, if you are lactose intolerant, choose something else. If gluten causes your gut to explode or your brain to swell, don’t fill your plate with the phyllo dough triangles or sugar cookies. You know better. Don’t choose to feel like crap just because it’s December. That doesn’t make sense. Find a delicious alternative recipe and bring it to the party or eat ahead of time just to be sure you don’t starve.

4. Hydrate or Die (stolen from Camelbak). In winter it’s easy to forget how depleted and dehydrated we get. Instead of waiting until you become thirsty, pace yourself with water starting when you wake. If it’s too cold try warm lemon water or herbal tea. Balance water with electrolyte powder or coconut water once a day.

5. Go Colorful. Even though veggies are somewhat limited in the winter and salads are not so appealing, it’s more important than ever to fortify yourself with a wide range of colors, vitamins and minerals found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Throw them in stews, crockpots and soups. Search for new, interesting recipes on the web.

6. Take Your D. In the winter months, we are no longer capable of making vitamin D from the UV rays in the sun. Some of us are so over-zealous with sunscreen (some of which is toxic) in the summer, that we don’t make it then, either. Because of this, we are largely deficient in this vital nutrient (actually closer to a steroid hormone than a vitamin). Supplement with 1000-2000 IU/day throughout the winter months (even kiddos!).

7. Help For S.A.D.ness. Lots of people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder or the winter blues. Winter is rough– it’s gray, days are short, sunlight is weak and we are in a type of hibernation. To have to keep working and ‘producing’ during this time is challenging. Supplement with a B-complex, St. John’s Wort and/or SAM-e; install full spectrum light bulbs; get outside to let sunlight in your eyes and the top of your head– daily.

8. De-Stress. Come up with a seasonal ritual that is un-winding to you and your partner, spouse, roommates or family. Build a fire, sip warm drinks, listen to music, walk the dogs, play games. Move away from the television and the malls and towards time together. Find time to soak in epsom salt baths, take a yoga class or stretch on the living room floor.

9. Be Kind to Yourself. Instead of needing the perfect cookie for the exchange, the perfect wrapping paper for the inlaws or the perfect experience for the kids, change it up. Visit a friend, go skiing or eat breakfast for dinner. Wrap gifts in newspaper or skip them all-together. Make pie instead of cookies. Just be kind.

10. Stay Conscious, and this doesn’t mean not dipping into the punchbowl. It means staying aware of self; paying attention to who you are and how you feel. Take care of your body and mind and they will take care of you. Chew your food, stop eating once you are full, avoid things that damage your body, steer clear of people who damage your psyche, go to bed before you are exhausted, breathe deeply, let your heart grow three sizes.

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