As moms, we’re often in charge of juggling all the house-hold duties and decisions when it comes to our family’s schedule, which becomes even more complicated during the holidays. We all know that holiday time can be magical. But this time of year often brings with it disrupted schedules, higher levels of stress, and less-than healthy food choices. While we can’t avoid these altogether, there are ways to enhance the immune system and improve our chances of keeping our families healthy through the holiday season. I’ve compiled some of the most fundamental items I’ve found work for our home – and hope they’ll help in yours!
12. Don’t Procrastinate
During the holidays, there is so much to do! Not only do we have to accomplish all of our normal daily and weekly responsibilities, but we add to our list a plethora of “extras” that aren’t always necessary. In the process, some important tasks get left undone until the last minute, as we try to fit absolutely everything into an already busy schedule. A recent study shows that 46% of the general population feels like procrastination has a negative impact on their level of happiness! In addition, adult procrastinators had higher levels of stress and more frequent acute illnesses than those who complete their tasks on time.
TIPS: This holiday season – know when to say “no” to events or requests that will create more chaos than enjoyment. Set realistic deadlines and stick to them. You’ll feel less overwhelmed and stressed – and enjoy those select activities that have been important enough to stay on the calendar that much more.
11. Financial Check-In
Often, end-of-year spending can get a little out of hand, and we don’t realize it until credit card bills arrive in January. This causes stress – and stress negatively impacts health! This year – take the month of December to evaluate your year’s financial decisions, and make any necessary course corrections before the end of the year.
TIPS: Check on the balance in your Flexible Spending account – make any necessary health-related appointments or purchases before the end of the year so you don’t lose those contributions. Check with your accountant or financial advisor about 529 plans for college savings – which have a tax deduction! End the year right to start off the new year ahead of the game. Perhaps sit down and create a budget for 2018 – budgeting now might help reduce excess spending in the month of December, and get you one step ahead in January.
10. Stay Hydrated
We all know how sluggish we feel when we don’t consume enough water. But in addition to being tired, being dehydrated increases our body’s susceptibility to illness. Dehydration leads to many unwanted symptoms including headaches, dry skin, and reduced immune system function. If we’re dehydrated, our body simply doesn’t have the fluids necessary to help our body eliminate waste. Dry, cracked skin and lips as well as dehydrated mucous membranes leaves our body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses severely weakened.
TIPS: Adults need to drink at least half their body weight in ounces of water daily. For children, the requirements are different, so check with your child’s healthcare provider for more custom recommendations. As moms, we typically are hyper-vigilant of our children’s habits – so simply check the color of their urine the next time they go – it should be a light yellow color. This is a much quicker check-in than measuring or monitoring our kids’ daily water intake!
9. Minimize Sugar and Processed Foods
I know – a big part of the holiday season is about holiday treats that bring back memories of our childhood – and if those memories are magical – we want to create those memories for our little ones, too! Unfortunately, we all know that illnesses feed on sugar, and that processed foods don’t contribute to high levels of health.
TIPS: There are amazing resources available to help us modify our old favorite recipes into healthier versions that will still keep our taste buds happy – and the kids (or husband) won’t notice the difference! Check out “paleo” versions of recipes to eliminate wheat, dairy and gluten and to use alternative natural sweeteners. If you know you’re going to splurge on goodies at a holiday party – pay close attention to your intake for the rest of the day. No one’s suggesting you deprive yourself during the ‘most wonderful time of the year’!
8. Pre-Plan Meals and Snacks
I find it difficult to pre-plan meals consistently. While we always have healthy proteins in our home that we source from a local farmer – it still takes work to plan what meals we’ll enjoy on which nights, and how much time we have to prepare those meals between all of our kids’ after school activities. If only during the holiday season, having a plan for healthy meals between holiday events can be very beneficial in maintaining your own sanity as well as your family’s nutrition
TIPS: I find that having healthy protein sources in our freezer at all times makes all meal planning much simpler. Then, a quick vegetable or salad can complete the meal. In our house, we often thaw a couple of chickens, a few pounds of hamburger and a couple of steaks at the beginning of the week in the refrigerator. My husband then makes several hamburgers and chickens all in one evening, that we can warm when we’re ready to eat at meals during the week. Steaks don’t take long, so we can quickly grill those any evening we have just a short period of time, too.
7. Nutritional Supplements!
It’s always best to get your primary nutritional needs from food. Real food. Unfortunately, even when seeking out the highest quality foods from local farmers, markets and grocers, it’s still not possible to get all of our requirements without supplementation. The soil our foods are grown in simply isn’t the same clean, healthy soil as was available even just 100 years ago. Supplementation increases the chance of your body having the essentials required for a fully functioning immune system.
TIPS: Some nutrients are essential for optimal body function, but difficult to acquire through even the healthiest of eating habits. These include omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D3. Omega 3’s play an important and essential role in the structure and function of virtually every cell in the body. Having a healthy level of this essential fatty acid in the body is protective against inflammation and promotes normal cell function. Healthy Vitamin D3 levels allow proper immune system function and the body’s ability to fight off illness. It’s incredibly difficult to get adequate levels of D3 through food. Sunshine is a great way to increase our levels, but difficult to attain in our Indiana winters! The final supplement healthy for anyone to include in their regimen is a probiotic. There are many different strains of probiotics, even strains specific to the function of an infant’s immune system. Supplementing with a probiotic is very protective against illness and promotes healthy immune system response. Ask your natural healthcare provider if you have questions about supplements best for you and your family.
6. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is great for the immune system. It’s also amazing for reducing stress and helping to improve mental clarity. We all know about the benefits, so let’s be real: it’s fitting it into the schedule that’s typically the issue.
TIPS: Make exercise a priority. Put it on the calendar – even if it’s a 20 minute slot twice per week. Anything is better than nothing – and you’re worth it.
5. Get Enough Rest
As moms, we tend to burn the candle at both ends. We’re up early to feed infants and/or get kids to school – and before we finally crawl into bed at night, we’re finishing up the last load of laundry and putting away dishes (the same dishes we’ll dirty at breakfast in just a few short hours). From day to day, we might not notice being slightly shorted on our necessary hours of sleep. Over time, however, chronic insufficient sleep leads to chronic health issues. We often don’t notice until we’re experiencing a health challenge – so it’s better to modify this habit as soon as possible.
TIPS: I’ve found that there were several things I’d scramble to do right before going to bed that would delay my own bedtime. I used to take supplements at night – now I’ve moved them to dinner time. The last load of laundry: I’d often watch my husband climb the stairs to get ready for bed and realize I still had clothes in the dryer. I hate wrinkled clothes – so I’d re-start the dryer and let it run for long enough to get the wrinkles out – and then proceed to fold. Now – they wait for morning. My time to sleep or decompress from the day with my husband is more important. Listen to calming music, make sure your room is dark, and keep your kids on great sleep routines. No plan is perfect, but these rituals do seem to help!
4. Chiropractic Adjustments
When I tell people I’m a chiropractor, the most common response I get is a person pointing to their neck or low back and telling me it’s been too long since they’ve been checked. What most people don’t realize, is that the chiropractic care is aimed at improving the function of the nervous system, which is directly linked to the immune system. There is ample research to explain how this physiologically happens – but the short story is this: people (and kids) under regular chiropractic care get sick less often.
TIPS: Talk to your chiropractor, or find one who focuses on family health and wellness that you feel comfortable will serve your family’s need for exceptional health.
3. Make amends
Stress negatively impacts our health, happiness and life. If you’re frustrated, angry, or having trouble forgiving yourself or someone else – now is the time to let these negative emotions go and free your mind and body for better things.
TIPS: Write. You may never send the letter to the person your words are directed toward – but getting your emotions and words out of your head and onto paper is often all it takes to let it stop negatively impacting your health and life. Make a phone call. A quick call and short conversation can clear up a small misunderstanding that has been blown out of proportion in your mind over time. Forgiveness is freeing – whether you need to forgive others or yourself.
2. Review Your Accomplishments
Review the high-lights from the year. Personal and professional accomplishments, as well as obstacles you’ve overcome are worth celebrating.
TIPS: I like to make a photo book of one or two pictures that adequately represent each month from the past year. Reviewing those events and people that made you happy, lifted you up and caused emotions of gratefulness and joy are worth reviewing – not just at the end of the year, but daily.
1. Journal and Set Goals
It’s hard to know how to get where you’re going if you don’t know the destination. Set goals for each area of your life. Personal and professional goals are a great start, but there are so many sub-categories that can be created that will help intensify your clarity and increase the chance of you attaining your objectives.
TIPS: I love using my Passion Planner. I thought having a paper journal would be more work – but even though I love technology – I’ve found that the old adage is true: “there’s just something about putting pen to paper.” Find an accountability partner – someone who will help keep you on track, just as you do for them. Having this person in your life greatly increases your chance of success, as well as connection.