Four Tips For Fighting The Pandemic Holiday Blues From A Revered Wellness Expert
The holidays can be rough, but this wellness aficionado shares how to easily stay healthy, strong and inspired.
If I start this by saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS! and you’re immediately agitated, you are not alone. The holidays are a stressful time for a lot of us, even pre-pandemic. We spend too much, eat too much and expect too much, from ourselves and our loved ones. This year, many of us are also struggling with the added financial strain, loss, and loneliness that Covid-19 has catapulted into our lives. How is anyone expected to celebrate when so many of us are grieving in different ways?
Wellness guru, Joy Puleo, has a lot of experience helping people through difficult life transitions. She’s a master trainer in several modalities with a master’s degree in Applied Physiology who believes in managing stress the natural way – through movement. She works with a variety of clients and is Education Director for Balanced Body, the largest provider of Pilates education and equipment, but notably uses her wealth of knowledge to restore physical self awareness and empowerment to newly diagnosed cancer patients. And as a cancer survivor myself, I can tell you, this kind of expertise is invaluable when you’re struggling.
Here are four of Joy’s top tips for getting through the dumpster fire of a holiday season 2020 has brought us.
1. Stay Mindful And Check In With Your Body. Joy makes a habit of using transitional moments like waking up or simply parking the car to check in with how she’s feeling. It gives her a chance to organize her thoughts and figure out what she needs. “This helps me be less reactive to my environment,” Joy says. “And, particularly during the holidays, this helps me stay centered.” It might seem like a small thing, but Joy finds that it makes her less susceptible to impulsive behaviors. “I also have a much better sense for how my body feels,” she adds. You might consider carrying around a small journal as extra motivation for taking this time. Or even set a reminder on your phone.
Party pooper alert. Here is where I tell you that getting drunk is the opposite of staying mindful – booze is not the answer. Sure, you’ll feel better in the moment, but alcohol is actually a depressant and is reportedly a carcinogen, so too much, too often is only going to make you feel worse, both mentally and physically in the long run.
2. Stay Active. I know that many of us are under strict stay at home orders, so it might feel like this step is impossible. It isn’t. Go for a walk, stretch, take a fun virtual fitness class, jump up and down, toss a ball, attempt a few squats, finally finish that Unlock Your Body course you paid for a million years ago and keep putting off. Being active is a priority. “Find something you enjoy doing and make it a part of your holiday schedule,” Joy says. “Mindful activities like Tai Chi and Pilates are ideal for this time of year as they help you to stay in tune with the needs of your body.”
3. Get Plenty Of Sleep. Sleep and exercise are finally getting the recognition they deserve as key factors in staying healthy and well, and Joy is thrilled about it. “Sleep provides the brain an opportunity to heal, process and support the intellectual and mental work you do all day long,” she says. “Sleep also provides the body an opportunity to heal, process and support the physical work you do all day long.”
So, how do you get enough sleep? Put down your phone and turn off the television. Put a limit on your doomsday scrolling and make sure it isn’t happening close to your bedtime, take a bath, read a book, light a candle, have some tea. Do all of this at the same time! Speaking of same time, try to make your bedtimes match from night to night so you don’t throw off your circadian rhythms.
4. Get Some Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a must for your bones, and getting outside in the sunlight will give you just the shot you need. According to Joy, going outside for a walk will also help you reset your mind and keep you active during the day. “An added, and often overlooked benefit, is that by drinking in the cool fresh air, not only will you energize your body but you will also trigger your metabolism to bump up its calorie burning potential in an effort to keep you warm.”
You had me at burning calories, Joy. I am in.
Seriously though, folks, this is a challenging time. There is no getting around that. But let’s remember – it won’t be like this forever and there is hope on the horizon. So, let’s take care of ourselves and our loved ones and we’ll come out on the other side, together and better than ever. Happy Holidays. Yeah, I said it.