Nurture Yourself This Season

Summer is barely over and we’re getting ready for the holidays! If you’re like me, I love this time
of the year, but I also dread it. With eventful calendars and daily stress, it’s hard to think about our personal well­-being; by the time it’s all over, we’re left drained and depleted. Here are a few suggestions for staying healthy and sane.

Set a time apart to relax. I know that it could sound impossible, but what if you scheduled just a few minutes a day, 3 to 5 minutes as a start, to just close your eyes and breathe, consciously… as you would for anything else that’s vital for you? Because this is, I promise. One of my favorite neuroscientists Dr. Dan Siegel says that a mindfulness practice serves “ to create, on purpose, and repeatedly, an intentional state of taking in what is, without judgment, and with presence to whatever arises.” Self ­compassion, understanding, calm, relaxation and openness are just a few of the amazing benefits of this practice.

Stay hydrated. Running around planning the holidays is stressful to our bodies and water is a vital component of our health. Avoid sugary drinks as they will strip your body of nutrients. Include greens with your meals. Green and fresh vegetables deliver substantial amounts of nutrients and help in detoxifying and cleansing our liver, gallbladder, pancreas, etc. Choose dark leafy greens and mix them with reds (tomatoes, beets), oranges (carrots, yams, squash.) yellows (bell peppers, summer squash).

Make your own salad dressing. There’s nothing better than knowing what goes into your food. While most store bought dressings have preservatives and added sugar, making your own is definitely healthier. As a base, I use equal parts olive oil and lemon juice (add more olive oil if you prefer) plus salt and pepper. If you feel creative, add your choice of herbs and spices. Almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are delicious options, too.

Juice. Consider juicing as a way to alternate between eating your salad and drinking it! If you like to add fruits for the taste, keep it at 85% vegetables and 15% fruits to avoid overcharging your pancreas with sugar. Berries contain the least amount of sugar.

Eat smaller portions of carbohydrates. Who doesn’t love a good pasta dish, a side of rice or a piece of cheese on a bread or cracker? They are delicious! So yes, savor them, but make sure your protein and veggie portions are bigger.

Eat fewer sweets and pastries. I know you will think that this is the hardest one of all! Here’s a trick I want to share with you: Hold the object of your craving between your fingers, notice its texture then take a small bite. Chew slowly, feeling it in your mouth and taking in all the flavors. Continue taking small bites until you’re satisfied. Sometimes just getting a mindful taste is enough to satisfy the craving. Remember, you don’t have to finish it, and it’s ok to toss it. Your health is much more valuable than the piece of cake that you don’t want to waste.

Last but not least… Exercise! Whether you choose to walk, run or do any form of physical activity, try to stick to your routine during this busy time. If you don’t have a routine yet, this is a good time to start. Yoga is an amazing way to stay calm and relaxed. Choose a class where the teacher encourages you to move at your own pace, and connect with your body. Yoga is about your own personal practice where you feel safe and comfortable to be yourself. It’s certainly not about competition or becoming an acrobat.

One important thing to remember is that it’s not about losing weight and feeling bad about slipping here and there. Just pace yourself, do your best, and focus on the positive changes that you’ve already made.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to email me or contact me through my website.

Doreen Maalouf is a certified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance and is an OpenSky bodywork practitioner, treating clients with trauma, anxiety, fears, stress and other matters. She is now accepting clients at the new Center for Integrative Health and Healing in Seal Beach.

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