What a challenging year for EVERYONE! For those of you struggling with chronic complex illnesses, it’s been an even greater challenge. Covid seems to be never-ending and we’re ALL fatigued, irritable, grief-filled, and hungry for change. Whether or not we will be spending time with extended family is up in the air. On top of dealing with all of the Covid restrictions, and our health issues, the holiday season can bring out the worst in us with additional layers of expectations on top of all those we already have: decorating, shopping, travel, family conflicts, and frustrations from trying to be on a clean diet while visions of sugar plums dance in our heads!

Already our Adrenal glands have been in overdrive this year, dumping out lots of adrenaline to deal with all of the uncertainty and hoping our cortisol can keep up. Let’s give them a break with enough sleep, and by keeping your immune system strong with plenty of self-care and clean, anti-inflammatory foods and a basic nutrient program that includes at least Vit D, Zinc, and Vit C to keep the innate immune system strong (goes after viruses and bacteria) and calm down the adaptive (which makes cytokines and autoantibodies). For a list of our immune-supporting and viral preventing nutrients see here. See our 12 hacks for adrenal health and sanity below.

Let’s also remember that in all spiritual traditions around the world, this time of longest darkness is honored by finding the Light within, and celebrating with festivals honoring the return of Light. So lighten up in all ways with your expectations and choose to lighten up your body, heart, mind, and soul with nourishment at all levels.

Here are 12 things you can do during these next few weeks to help you feel nourished and get through with your waistline, your sanity, your soul, and your Light intact!

  1. Prepare food ahead of time to bring to events that you can eat. See our great holiday recipes. Make a nourishing smoothie before going to any gathering so you are full and not as tempted by off diet foods. Don’t keep sugar or treats in the house- give away any you receive to food banks or the homeless shelters. Give teacher’s homemade cards instead of cookies!
  2. Alcohol alternatives– avoid the slippery slide in alcohol and sugar binging by substituting sparkling water + cranberry juice with a lime wedge or kombucha in a pretty wine glass.
  3. Lower expectations across the board- especially with gift-giving. White Elephants with re-gifted “gifts” from your closet cleaning are fun, inexpensive and take the stress out of shopping, and generate great laughs! Do you really need to send out so many Christmas cards? Do you have to put up ALL of the decorations? Where can you simplify?
  4. Stay connected with others who have had your health challenges to share wisdom and tips. Online Zoom support groups can make a HUGE difference in our sanity. From Weight Watchers to therapy groups, to prayer study, to 12 step groups. Sign up for our upcoming online group Nourish program post-holidays with our health coaches for the value of group healing and support.
  5. Move every day– Get the adrenaline out! Even if it’s only 5 minutes of stretching and your 1 minute HIIT or mini-trampoline or staircase,  even better getting out to run or bike, or doing wheelchair yoga or mall walking (without the buying!). Take a daily walk in your neighborhood and enjoy the lights and decorations.
  6. Turn off the news and minimize intense TV programs or media– the body doesn’t know the difference between watching something and actually being present for whatever trauma or stress is playing out on the screen. Don’t add to yours.
  7. Laugh and smile daily, ON purpose, whether or not you mean it! Watch funny uplifting positive media, You-tubes, concerts, dance performances, etc. Greet everyone you see with a smile. Laughing activates the Vagus nerve to help calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, and keep the GI tract moving.
  8. Gratitude list– before the New Year make a list of 100 things you are grateful for in this last year. Write down 5-10 each day. Gratitude helps keep you out of recycling chronically negative thoughts in the limbic system. On New Year’s Eve read your list aloud to reflect back on the accomplishments, resiliency, blessings, and little things in your life that made you happy, no matter how small.
  9. Music is healing at so many levels! Put on your favorite calming, uplifting, joyous, or relaxing music and sing along to activate that vagus nerve and send healing signals to your organs.
  10. Meditation– take time every day for meditation and/or prayer. Getting quiet even for 5-10 minutes, reading positive uplifting words, and taking time to contemplate the inner Light this season stands for, in all traditions, can start and end your day with Grace.
  11. Have an escape plan for visiting with relatives! If family gatherings are stressful for you, remember to “serve and observe” and keep quiet around controversies, not trying to fix or change anyone.  Have a car or Uber to be able to leave if tensions are triggered. You can blame “your doctor” for giving you strict self-care parameters!
  12. Sleep! Do your best to get into bed by 10-11 with good sleep hygiene, no cell phone, electronics, or TV in the bedroom, Earplugs, eye masks, and white noise if helpful, with something calming to read.  If you’ve worked on the previous 11 steps you’ll find that good sleep is much more accessible and refreshing!

The collaborative team of practitioners and staff at Carpathia wishes you all safe, sane, nourishing, and Happy Holidays. We are with you in celebrating your Light and in starting a New Year refreshed, hopeful, dedicated to self-care and healing, and filled with Grace! Blessings to ALL.