By Susan Neal Susan U. Neal, RN, MBA, MHS
The holidays are a joyous but stressful time of year. Many of us strive to accomplish everything on our “To Do List” and “Shopping List.” As overachievers, we end up rattled and worn out. However, you can successfully navigate the season to ensure you stay centered and healthy. Here are some guidelines to achieve that goal.
Master Christmas Shopping
Buying gifts during December is a nerve-wracking experience. The stores are packed, items run low, and the parking lots are always full. Instead, purchase gifts all year long. If you spend $15–$30 per month on Christmas gifts this does not gouge your pocketbook and the shopping experience is pleasurable.
As you travel, attend art festivals, or find yourself in an interesting shop, pick up a gift or two for loved ones. These unique gifts will be thoroughly enjoyed by their recipients. Whenever I shop with my teenagers, I ask them to give me one item that they picked out, and I hide it until Christmas. Months later, when we open our gifts Christmas morning, they forgot all about the items, but each one fits perfectly and they love it.
As you purchase each gift, record it on a master Christmas list and stash the gifts away. In November, check how much you bought for each person, and finalize your gift list. Finish your shopping in November, before the Thanksgiving holidays, when the stores become busy. If you still need to purchase a few items in December, order them online to avoid the crowds. Instead of spending time shopping, sit by the fire and enjoy your family.
Stay Healthy During the Holidays
To stay healthy during the holidays you need to focus on you. Continue to exercise even if you’re only walking or working out at the gym once a week. Sleep at least eight hours each night so you feel energetic in the morning. Avoid wheat and sugar, so you don’t experience blood sugar fluctuations, which cause brain fog and lethargy.
When baking, use coconut, almond, or quinoa flour instead of white or wheat flour. Also, use sugar substitutes such as stevia and monk fruit sweetener. Both of these sweeteners rank zero on the glycemic index and have no calories! Desserts made with these ingredients are as tasty as the usual sugar-laden culprits.
Make dishes using fresh, raw ingredients such as sautéed fresh green beans with garlic and slivered almonds versus the typical green bean casserole loaded with fat and processed ingredients. The fresh green beans are nutritious and delicious. Fresh, raw foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and all the nutrients the human body needs—the way God intended you to eat.
At holiday parties, avoid eating foods made with sugar and wheat. Instead, eat nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Serve yourself healthy dips like guacamole and hummus. These foods are just as delicious, and they won’t contribute to brain fog. Be sure to serve yourself smaller portions. Using a smaller plate may help.
Focus on the Reason for the Season
During the Christmas season don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Completing your shopping before the busy season allows you to enjoy the holidays versus fighting the crowds. In turn, you have more time to focus spiritually.
When we stay centered on the reason for the season we experience the joy of the holidays. To stay centered read through the Christmas story and count the number of angelic visits surrounding Jesus’s birth. You will be surprised at how many you find. Read these Bible verses with your family in the following chronological order: Luke 1: 5–39, 56; Matthew 1: 20; Luke 2: 1–14; and Matthew 2:1–22.
Ultimately, to stay healthy and peaceful during the holidays your goal should be to complete your shopping before December. While everyone else runs around checking everything off their list, you can enjoy focusing on the real reason for the holidays—the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Susan’s mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She has her RN and MBA degrees, as well as a master’s in health science. She published five books, the Selah award winner 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates, Christian Study Guide for 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates, Healthy Living Journal, Scripture Yoga a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book, and Yoga for Beginners. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks and two Christian Yoga DVDs. To learn more visit SusanUNeal.com.