Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2010
Written by 

How to ensure a healthy, happy holiday season

Like it or not, the season’s craziness is upon us once again, with marketing blitzes, the next “best” sale that we must not miss, holiday parties and many other potential stressors. We cannot change the commercialism that pervades our culture today, but we can change how we respond to it. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves and our loved ones is the gift of taking care of mind, body and spirit. There are many simple methods to ensure a healthy, lower stress holiday season:

Take timeouts just to breathe – yes, breathe! Feel those shoulders creeping up to meet your ears? Take a breath! You’ve just fixed a lovely, healthy meal — the table is perfect, guests are ready to “dig in” — take a breath! Take a moment to acknowledge to yourself all you have done, to enjoy the smells and the visual feast before you before you start to eat!

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends a daily practice of relaxing breathing — simple, and quite effective. Just follow these steps:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight.
  • Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Take care of your body – eat healthy, tasty foods, drink lots of liquids (of the nonalcoholic variety), minimize refined sugar and caffeine. Schedule exercise every day — even a 10 minute walk will do wonders for your body, mind and spirit. Sip on a delicious herbal tea — chamomile, hops, skullcap, passionflower — an hour or so before you want to go to sleep and get some restorative sleep, which your body needs! Add some immunity boosters to your daily routine — elder berry and elder flower, echinacea, golden seal, rosehips and hibiscus combine to make yummy immunity boosting teas, for example. Make soups/stews to stay warm and satisfy your taste buds. Add some astragalus root to the pot to boost that immunity! Herbs and spices can be added to many foods and beverages. Rather than grabbing a supplement bottle, incorporate the actual plant in your cooking to enjoy the benefits and the flavor the herbs provide!

Are you noticing muscle tightness or pain? Get up and move a little, change positions, close your eyes to reduce strain for a few moments. Think you don’t have time? You will find that just a few moments of movement can save you much time in the long run. You will be more effective and efficient, and you won’t be nearly as uncomfortable!

Take care of your mind – it needs rest, but it also needs new types of stimulation. Try a different type of literature, music or art to stimulate those beautiful “grey cells”! Explore new places, vary where you go for your walks and really pay attention to what is around you — mental stimulation helps keep our brains functioning well, and improves our mood and sense of fulfillment. Stimulate the senses. Try new herbs or spices in your foods and beverages. Add some organic cardamom pods to your coffee or tea, or perhaps some cinnamon and savor the difference as you enjoy the smell and taste of something new!

Take care of your spirit – the propaganda machines are telling you all the things you must buy, do, see and make, but listen to your own internal voice. What brings you peace, joy and happiness? What does this season mean to you? You don’t have to cave in to the consumerism of this time of year — if your joy comes from nature, from your friends and family, from your religious expression — be there, do that, share that! Agree to buy and do less, and share more. Take these moments to deepen those things that bring joy to your spirit.

We can all live healthier, more simple lives, which allows us to enjoy the beauty of this planet, our friends and family, and our lives. Enjoy the magic of the season and stay healthy at the same time!

Reference: “Three breathing exercises.” A Weil.

T. Heather Herdman, RN, PhD

T. Heather Herdman, RN, PhD is co-owner of Sweet Willow Naturals in Green Bay, where we have over 140 organic herbs and 70 organic spices available for you to craft your own products, or to simply enjoy as tea. Our store focuses on education and we have many classes to help you learn about herbs, aromatherapy, nutrition, and self-care – focusing on safe information backed up by research and experience. We also offer wellness coaching and massage – stop in today! For more information, visit or email [email protected]

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