Whether you want to avoid putting on a few extra pounds before the years up, control your blood sugar amidst food & beverage-centric occasions, or you simply wish to eat and move so you feel in vibrant health each day, the holiday season can be challenging.
But staying mindful of both your eating and moving habits can help you enjoy this cozy season to the fullest extent – while keeping your healthy living goals in check.
In case you aren’t certain what we mean here, by mindfulness we’re referring to the practice of being aware and in the moment. Not letting thoughts of the time just past, or what lies in wait in our future, sneak in. Just being – here and now – and savouring that. Mindfulness encourages us to notice what is going on around and within us, gently bringing ourselves back to the present.
Specifically when talking about eating and moving as our body needs, mindfulness can help us fully enjoy a meal/ activity and the experience of eating/ moving. With moderation, balance, and appropriate restraint in mind (yes, I’m looking at you decorated dessert table…).
Here are 5 tips to support more mindful living to help you in navigating this celebratory season while keeping health and happiness top of mind:
1. Start your day with Movement.
Begin your day with healthy choices that get your muscles pumping and encourage a mindful living attitude all day long. On the morning of your holiday celebration, move your body and take time to organize your thoughts.
Go for a walk, run, or hike outside, practice yoga, and/or do a meditation session. The important thing is you engage in an activity you enjoy.
Exercising reduces cortisol (a stress hormone), which can help ease tensions even before they arise. Engaging in purposeful physical activity to start the day will help clear your mind, improve your mood, and prepare you for the busy day ahead.
Before you begin the task at hand (be it cooking, cleaning, or relaxation related), take a moment to reflect upon how you feel. Are you rushed? Stressed? Sad? Bored? Hungry?
After you have taken this moment to reflect, then you can choose what action would serve your body best at this time. It may be stepping away from busy planning and prep and going for a short walk, having a small nutritious snack to fuel you, or jotting down a to-do list of what you still hope to accomplish that day.
Whatever the activity you decide on doing is, we have confidence you’ll feel better tackling it with this reflection.
Even the most mindful amongst us slip up with this habit at times (especially during those busy holiday event times).
It stands to be true that the better hydrated you are, the more efficient your body will be at so many things (including transporting nutrients, encouraging circulation, toxin elimination). All these improved markers lead to healthier body functioning overall. Water also helps regulate your appetite so that you eat just as much as your body needs during your meal.
4. Engage all of your Senses.
Slowing down the pace at which you experience the life event (be it eating, moving, or otherwise) helps you live with intention and enjoy the experience more mindfully.
Regarding eating specifically – when you sit down at the table, engage your senses and savour each bite. While taste is a primary element of the meal, also appreciate how the food looks on your plate. Take a moment and assess the colours and aroma of your food. Put your fork down between bites and appreciate every aspect of what you’re eating before you take another bite.
When you are about halfway through the meal or so, assess again how you’re feeling. Be honest, and ask yourself if you really want much more or if there’s notably more than you need left on your plate. If you aren’t sure, pausing for a bit and engaging in conversation with those around you as appropriate is encouraged is to give your body time to register fullness.
5. Give Gratitude.
Tis’ the season to feel thankful for all we have and can do.
Before you start to eat or engage in vigorous activity, pause and take a moment to acknowledge all that goes into it. The labour that went into providing your meal or the hard work your body in about to undertake outside, in the studio, or at the gym.
Taking the time to count your blessing in life can be refreshing and set a grateful tone for the rest of the day.
Mindfulness offers many benefits throughout the year, but can be especially helpful during the holidays; even beyond healthful eating and moving. Purposefully focusing your attention on the present can help you embrace companionship, connectivity, and overall contentment and help make the season more meaningful for you.