My family didn’t celebrate Christmas growing up, so holiday traditions have come and gone for me over the years.
But there one tradition that has become too ingrained . . . almost every December I get sick with a bad cold and cough.
This has been going on since I moved to Seattle many years ago, except that first winter I got sick right around my February birthday. Since then it’s been pretty consistently around Christmas time, most years. Over the last ten years it’s been just about every year, with one major exception—the last Christmas that my late husband Dan and I celebrated together, I did not get sick. I don’t know how, but I didn’t, and I am so eternally grateful we had that time together!
This year will be five Christmases with my husband Eric, and I stayed healthy in just ONE of those years. Last year I came down with that horrific flu that was going around. We had just relocated to Texas, so I could see where that major life change might bring on so much stress that my immune system had no choice to cave in. I am hopeful that this is the year I break the cycle, but since it’s not yet Christmas, it’s too soon to tell! Fingers seriously crossed.
The fact is, the holidays are very stressful. Even if you don’t manifest your stress in illness, like I apparently do, it can be an overwhelming time for so many of us. Even worse, everything in our popular culture tells us we are supposed to feel joyous and happy and excited, when it can be the exact opposite! There’s little recognition for alternative emotions or circumstances at this time of year.
I may or may not get sick again this year, but I’m doing everything in my power to stay healthy. It never hurts any of us to minimize stress regardless. Here’s my plan, it’s not too late to join me!
- Drink water, a lot of it. Still, sparkling, infused, decaffeinated tea, the options are endless these days. Just stay hydrated.
- Eat well. There’s no sense in denying yourself the treats that seem to be everywhere, but try to stick with the basics most of the time. Protein, fruits, vegetables. You’ll get plenty of carbs one way or another at this time of year! Attempt to limit portions of the rich sweet stuff if possible. If not, don’t beat yourself up. It’s pointless.
- Keep moving. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, a ten-minute bodyweight workout, or a couple of yoga moves. Something, anything to keep your body in the daily (or most days) exercise game.
- Let something go. Pick and choose how you want to expend your energy. You are not a failure if you don’t do it all.
- Don’t take on anything new or big. Don’t ask too much of yourself. Be okay with exactly where you are and what you are doing right here and now. You’re doing fine. It’s all good.
- Stop and breathe. One, two, three deep breaths. Repeat as much or as little as possible depending on what feels right for you.
Perhaps this is the year I start a new tradition—a healthy holiday season! Fingers seriously crossed!