It’s the most joyous time of year! It’s also the time of year when many are getting colds, flus, and running themselves ragged with all the to-do’s of the holiday season!
However, what if we could keep our stress at an all time low this season? What if we were still able to participate in all the things, but keep our immune system top-notch? Let’s do it! Here are 6 easy ways to stay healthy through the holiday season (and well into the winter months, too!).
Use spices regularly – cinnamon, clove, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, all spice, etc. are all immune system boosters. Spices have been long known to aid in the recovery of illness, but they are also key in preventing them AND they are awesome for incorporating into food and drink this time of year because they are so festive!
Here are a few ideas for incorporating some of these warming spices into your everyday routine:
Make Turmeric Milk
On stovetop, measure out 1 mug of milk over low heat. Add ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric, honey to taste, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of black pepper and increase temperature to medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour and enjoy!
*I also love adding ground turmeric to my eggs!*
Make Cinnamon Honey Tea
Add a stick of cinnamon to warm water on stovetop and bring to a boil. Add honey to taste and stir until dissolved. Drink ½ cup of cinnamon honey tea 3-4 times a day. Thisis a great remedy if you feel cold all the time!
*Add in some whole cloves (which are GREAT to inhale for a stuffy nose) to the cinnamon and honey for a huge added boost of flavor and antioxidants!*
Make a cup of Kadha
Kadha is a spice tea blend based on the principles of Ayurveda that uses winter spices & herbs to combat coughs and cold.
The following recipe is by Karen Hansen, Sri Vidya and Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, co-owner of Samsara Yoga Center in Jamestown, NY
Kadha by Karen
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
- 1-3 black pepper corns whole & crushed or 1/2tsp ground black pepper
- 1-3 whole cloves or 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp finely chopped ginger or 1 tsp ginger juice or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 4-5 Tulsi leaves (Indian basil) or 1/4 tsp ground tulsi
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 -3tsp local raw honey to taste (added at the end when temperature is below 180 F)
- add 1-2 tsp thyme if you are prone to cough dry throat
- add 2-3 crushed juniper berries if you tend to feel cold
- If you cannot find tulsi/holy basil use half a fresh rosemary sprig or 1-2tsp rosemary leaves or 1/2 tsp ground rosemary
- If possible it is always best to use the whole form of the herb
Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a saucepan. Add the cloves, black pepper, chopped ginger and tulsi.
Warm the spices until they become aromatice – add ginger juice here along with the water.
Simmer over low heat for 3-5 minutes.
Pour kadha through strainer – let cool for 1-2 minutes and add honey to taste.
- Scent your home naturally – traditional candles may smell amazing
and give you all the cozy feels, but they are highly toxic and significantly decrease indoor air quality. Most candles (unless stated otherwise) are made with a petroleum base, lead containing wick, and fragrance oils. When burned, these are carcinogenic and extremely harmful, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some safer alternatives!
One alternative is to look for beeswax candles made with an organic cotton wick.
Another favorite of mine is to make a stovetop potpourri – below is one that will give your home a sweet and spicy smell and it’s completely non-toxic!
In a large pot on stovetop, bring the following ingredients to a low rolling simmer and leave it there for however long you want. If you simmer it for an extended period of time, you’ll need to add more water to the mixture.
- 8 cups water
- the peels of 3 large oranges
- ¾ cup fresh cranberries
- ¼ cup fresh anise stars
- 2 tbsp whole fresh cloves
- 3-4 fresh cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 bay leaves
- Stay hydrated! – Ok, this one might be a no brainer, BUT are you staying hydrated? It’s not as easy to remember when you have extra tasks and activities to do per day, but there are a few things you can do to keep it top of mind.
- Drink water first thing each morning.
- Change it up a bit with mineral water or infused water
(try cinnamon sticks and apples for a festive twist!)
- Get a huge insulated water bottle to keep in your car while you
do errands (I personally love the Hydroflask brand)
- When you order your favorite latté, get a cup of water to go with it
- Try brain dumping or journaling as part of your nighttime routine – get the lists, to-do’s, and tasks on paper. Don’t attempt to store all this in your brain overnight. You’ll be in a more restful state of mind if you do get your thoughts on paper and you’ll sleepmore deeply.
To make it more of a habit, try to create a relaxing ritual that incorporates the list writing. Diffuse a calming blend of essential oils, drink a cup of chamomile tea, and/or listen to meditative music to create a welcoming atmosphere to help you stick with the practice.
- Minimize stress – In order to minimize stress, plan as much in advance as possible. Plan your holiday meals and menus well in advance to help avoid last minute scrambling. And ask family members and friends to bring dishes (you don’t have to do it all!).
Dedicate one day in December for your own self care. Perhaps this means taking a yoga class, going for a walk, getting a massage or seeing a movie. If you over commit, your stress levels will soar so feel free to decline an invitation or two, perhaps hire a home cleaning service for the month, or even take advantage of a home delivery meal service for the month (my favorite is Daily Harvest, which specializes in superfood smoothies, bowls, and soups!).
Another way to minimize stress is to set your priority on those you love. Don’t worry about perfectly wrapping your gifts or creating Instagram worthy meals. Focus on spending time doing things that really matter – spending time with friends and family – and don’t worry so much about the rest.
High stress situations can cause the following acute symptoms and more severe, chronic symptoms if not addressed properly:
- Body aches
- Colds or flu
- High blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
- Eating disorders or poor eating habits
- Mood disturbances
- Increased frequency of other habits (staying up too late, drinking too much alcohol, excessive or no exercise)
- Prepare grab and go snacks! – This one right here is a life saver in our
household year-round. I make sure I plan out snack options for the week, get the items on my shopping list, and then my kids help assemble what they call, “snack packs”. Easy enough for a kid to help out with and a total lifesaver to have in your purse, gym bag, car, etc. I listed a few of my favorite combos below, but also feel free to pick up a free copy of my ebook, 20 Simple and Healthy Snack Ideas for Thyroid Health that everyone will love! Give these ideas a try:
- Clementines and Lightly salted cashews
- Apples sprinkled with cinnamon and Lakanto
- Olives, cheese cubes, and rice crackers
- Banana with spread almond butter and chia seeds on top
- Baby carrots, celery sticks, and hard boiled egg
Alright! You’re all set! Even if you were to implement just 1-2 of the ideas from this list, you’ll notice an impact. But don’t stop after the holiday bustle. This list could literally help lay the foundation for those of you who are aiming to add any wellness goals to your New Year’s Resolutions. It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does have to be consistent!
Wishing you the best holiday season!