The winter holidays can feel a bit like a triathlon. You see the race coming, you’ve trained long and hard, but you’re never quite ready for that marathon of shopping, baking, decorating and entertaining. While the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year may feel like a series of Olympic events, don’t let the season crash your energy before you reach the finish line.
Make your meals count. Even if you’re not a breakfast eater, now’s the time to break out that omelet pan and crack open some morning energy. Eating a high-protein breakfast will rev up your metabolism and keep you full longer. To avoid that afternoon crash, fill up on a plant-based lunch rather than carbs, especially if your day extends into holiday festivities after work. If the evening calls for a rich meal, make sure not to over-indulge too close to bedtime. Going to sleep on a full stomach will leave your digestion sluggish, resulting in insomnia, unstable blood sugar and next-day fatigue.
Go easy on the alcohol. Tis the season for holiday cheer, but too many glasses of spiked eggnog, mulled wine or cranberry punch will leave you sleepy but unrested. While one glass of wine may help you fall asleep, too much will wake you in the middle of the night, once the alcohol has been completely metabolized. Large amounts of alcohol will also disrupt the important REM sleep cycle, leaving you without the necessary energy to power through the next day.
Be careful with sugar. It’s no secret that the holidays are a heavenly time for sweet treats. No need to pass them up, but if you want to avoid an energy crash, you’ll need to indulge moderately. Sugary foods cause a quick spike in blood sugar which signals your body to release insulin. Once the insulin passes through your system, you blood sugar drops, causing fatigue and brain fog. And don’t forget what sugar can do to your teeth!
Schedule a tea time. While it’s tempting to go for that cup of steaming, hot coffee, certain kinds of tea can help rev up your energy without sending you into overdrive. Green tea contains less caffeine, and may even combat cold and flu viruses during the stressful holidays. Spicy ginger tea contains zingerone, a fatigue-fighting chemical that can gently stimulate. If you can’t pass up the coffee, stick with espresso. According to nutritionists, the roasting and brewing process is healthier and less acidic than conventional java.
Don’t skip the gym. During the busy holiday season, it’s easy to count shopping as a cardio work-out, but unless you’re literally jogging through Macy’s, it’s best not to skip your fitness regime. Even if you need to pare down your usual schedule, exercising will boost your mood, maintain your energy level, and help you sail through the holidays without weight gain.
Nutritional supplements can help. Even if you’re not a daily pill-popper, you may want to consider giving your body some extra support during the busy, holiday season. Vitamin C will help strengthen your immune system, and may even boost your energy during that mid-afternoon slump. A B-complex supplement will support your adrenal glands during times of stress and help regulate your sleep patterns. Vitamin D decreases muscle fatigue and helps manufacture energy at the cellular level.
Though your holiday to-do list may be a mile long, don’t forget to pencil in some relaxation time. Whether this includes a warm bath or just an hour with a good book, taking care of your own well-being is the gift you owe yourself during this busy time of year.