During the holidays, routines often get out of whack. The derailment might be due to family commitments, a vacation, a work deadline before year-end, or unexpected events that pop up. What can you do to stay healthy and on track this time of year?
Here our coaches from The FlipSide Plan share simple yet powerful practices that will set you up for success in 6 different parts of your life.
1 – For Time Management: The “Big 3”
If you struggle to set boundaries and manage your agenda in December, we invite you to identify your “Daily Big 3.” What are the 3 most important things you must do each day? Write them down (on paper) and plan for them to happen. But here’s the deal: make sure these are tasks that rely 100% on you to complete. You don’t want to be chasing people these days!
Write your Big 3 at night: the next morning you’ll be a step ahead knowing your priorities as soon as you wake up. These can be small things (15-min HIIT training) or a work-related activity (finishing the Q4 report). Evidence shows that working on your Big 3 before lunchtime increases the probability of being successful, so plan for early morning productivity.
2 – For Stress Management: Gratitude Practice
Did you know that a gratitude practice has the same health benefits as a 1-hour HIIT training session? Gratitude causes the same “feel good” sensation in the brain as a hard workout.
There’s a caveat though. This practice is not about listing things you’re thankful for; it’s about telling people face-to-face (or by phone) why you are grateful to them. Find one opportunity every day, and act on it. Tell someone (your partner, kid, co-worker, parent, friend) why you’re thankful for something they specifically did to make your life better. Don’t look for heroic moments – stick with simple things.
The bonus? This practice equally benefits the giver and receiver. Do it daily as your gift to others (and yourself) during these holidays.
3 – For Nutrition: One Perfect Meal
Eating out and enjoying food is a huge thing this time of year. Here’s the plan: control just one meal per day, and control everything about it. Make it the healthiest meal possible. If it’s breakfast, opt for a balanced smoothie, with maybe some berries and leafy greens, avocado or nut butter, hemp seeds, flax or chia. If it’s lunch, make a big warm salad with a green base, roasted veggies, topped with an amazing dressing. No processed or packaged foods! No sugary drinks! Even at this time of year, you can do it. It’s not complete deprivation… it’s just one meal a day to make perfect.
4 – For Movement: Two Quick Sets
Your body is designed for activity: walking, pulling, pushing, and hoisting things like dumbbells at the gym (or Christmas shopping bags at the mall!) Your body is better off moving than immobilized: more movement throughout the day is what your body wants and needs. Stay on track by practicing two quick 15-minute sets of movement a day.
How to fit it in when you’re so busy? Park your car further away when shopping. At work, ditch the chair, and use an imaginary seat against the wall, challenging yourself to hold it for 1 or more minutes. Walk during calls. (Bonus: walking stimulates the exchange of information between the brain’s hemispheres, boosting your problem-solving skills and creativity.) Take a stroll before meals. (Bonus: you’ll decompress your digestive system, de-stress your nervous system, and be more wakeful after eating.)
Fifteen minutes is just three songs, after all, or the length of a call to someone to express your gratitude!
5 – For Gut Health: Mindful Eating
The gut is not only affected by what we eat but also how we eat. “Mindful Eating” means eating without external distractions, chewing slowly, and enjoying the moment, even when eating alone.
By paying attention to what we eat, without distractions, our gut and brain recognize when we’re full, and we avoid overeating. Also, by chewing slowly you allow the gut to absorb broken-down nutrients better instead of having to do the heavy work of decomposing food. (Fast eating causes gas, by the way.)
For one meal each day – at home, at the office, or at a party – make an extra effort to sit down to eat. If alone, put your phone away and avoid your computer to focus on your food. Invite a co-worker to join you. If at a dinner party, before going for seconds, pause for 5 minutes. You’ll likely realize you are already satisfied.
6 – For Sleep: Natural Light Exposure
Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset the brain and body each day. Sleep allows our body to reboot and our cells to detox. But how can we get good sleep with so much on the mind and on the calendar this time of year?
A scientifically-proven tool is exposure to natural light. Being exposed to morning sunlight within one hour of waking helps regulate your biological clock and circadian rhythm. It promotes a healthy wake-sleep cycle, regardless of your social life.
Aim for a 15-minute walk in the morning to get that natural light (even if it’s cloudy it works). Or sit close to a window at breakfast, letting the sunlight activate your hormones (cortisol and melatonin) which in turn regulate your sleep that night.
To fit all these in, try to stack your habits. For example, take a brisk walk during early morning to get your sun exposure; or express gratitude to someone while you’re mindfully eating.
These habits are super simple, yet so powerful. Give them a try and be consistent. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
ACE Coworking members, Rosana Fernandez and MV Anzola, are the co-founders of The FlipSide Plan. They are credentialed professional coaches known for designing, managing and delivering top-notch corporate wellness workshops and programs on health and productivity. Follow ACE Coworking & The FlipSide Plan on social media to stay up-to-date on our regular co-hosted Lunch & Learn Workshops, which you are welcome to attend!