Real talk: as much as we love the holidays, they can be a stressful time. With a horde of family members to feed, gifts to buy, and your own health to maintain, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Everyone knows the basics of holiday survival: Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, eat your veggies, and try not to stress. Easier said than done, right? Here are a few more tips to help keep you and your family happy and well-fed throughout the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Get plenty of sun (and other sources of Vitamin D3).
The farther you live away from the equator, the less Vitamin D your body can make from sunlight during the winter months. Your body and your brain need Vitamin D: It’s vital for bone growth and calcium absorption, and it plays a role in cell growth, immune functions, and reducing inflammation, too (especially those ankles swollen from being on your feet so much while decorating the tree, shopping for gifts, and cooking multi-course meals!). If it’s just too cold for you to get a daily dose of direct sunlight on your skin, consider upping your family’s intake of naturally-occurring Vitamin D: fatty fish like salmon and anchovies, meat (especially beef liver), egg yolks, and wild-grown mushrooms. Alternatively, fortified foods and Vitamin D3 supplements can help.
2. Eat lots of quality fats.
Avocados have “good fats” your body needs to keep healthy, and the great news is, Avocados from Mexico are unique in that they’re available year-round. Plus, there’s no cooking required — and with all the dishes you’re planning on making for the holidays, you could use a break from the kitchen’s hot stove, right?
AVO TIP: Have an avocado that isn’t quite ripe? Find out how to get it just right for munchin’.
3. Make meditation a family affair.
Taking a few minutes to slow down and just breathe can be a big help for the harried adult, and a great way to bond with family during this busy time of year, too. Keep it short and simple. Try it out sitting, standing, even walking (with eyes open!) to keep everyone engaged. A few times a day, just take a brief moment to share quiet time together.
4. Embrace the make-ahead meal.
The holiday season may be one of the best times of year to really expand your repertoire of one-dish hot meals. The Crock-Pot bubbling all day, tempting the family with its rich smells, followed by everyone gathering around the table for a bowl of a steaming stew . . . it’s the perfect winter scene. So break out the recipe books and choose five or ten different soups, stews, and casseroles that you can prepare in bulk and freeze for heating up later. If you get the whole family together and spend a weekend prepping, you might be able to mix up a month’s worth of food. (Maybe start with cleaning out the freezer!)
You can always throw together a fresh salad or a bowl of guacamole to round things out, and be sure to put breadsticks or tortilla chips on the table, too. This makes it easy to sit down as a family, even if you’re in a hurry, and eat something you all love.
5. Focus on the spirit of the season.
Let yourself stop when things get intense, or don’t go as planned, when siblings (or spouses) aren’t getting along, or you’re having one of those days when there just isn’t enough time to do everything that needs to be done. Take a breath and remind yourself why you do all these things. Tell these stories to your children, remember all the holidays past, the traditions you are carrying forward, and the new ones you are making. Whatever and however you are celebrating, don’t lose sight of the celebration.