Blog #82 Taking Good Care of Ourselves During the Holiday Season and Beyond
Sometimes, overwhelmed with visiting friends and relatives, shopping for presents, and overstimulated by the commercial messages all around us to buy, buy, buy, we forget to take care of ourselves during the holidays. This leaves us with problems like a few extra pounds (possibly from over-indulging in rich, sugar laden foods), abdominal cramping (possibly from an over-burdened gall bladder or food sensitivities), headaches, anxiety and depression (possibly from interpersonal stress and inner turmoil), and low back pain (possibly from sitting long hours in a car or plane or bus on our trips to vacation and visit family and friends).
I have a few things to share in this blog. The equinoxes and the solstices are particularly special and powerful times, heralding major seasonal changes as well as marking the Sun’s relationship to the Earth. The Winter Solstice, which occurs on December 21st coincides with many major holidays, including Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza and New Year’s. It is a time that puts a little extra stress on the body and mind. This extra stress makes the toxins and challenges we encounter over the winter holidays a little more powerful and problematic for our physical and mental health and stability.
In the Northern hemisphere, people acknowledge the returning sun/lights with decorations or candles or celebratory fires around the Winter Solstice, when there is more darkness than at any other time. Knowing that the sun’s influence starts to increase after the solstice may help us tolerate cold weather a little better than we would otherwise. Gathering with loved ones may sometimes also be helpful, if it allows us to feel more supported at this potentially hazardous time of year.
During the winter holidays, it is important to take care of ourselves while traveling, by stretching and preferably standing up and walking around at least once per hour, if possible. It is also important to eat as healthfully and to get sufficient sleep. Taking time for mental clarity and inspiration, through such activities as reading, meditation, walking in nature, or listening to upbeat or uplifting music, can support and strengthen us. Celebration is great, but overindulging in alcohol or in rich, greasy foods may make us feel ill later on.
According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) when the body receives an insult or stress, the resultant damage will show up during the following season, in this case, the spring. Usually, springtime is considered the best time to detoxify. To jumpstart your health, you might want to begin thinking of a spring cleaning, starting in late winter to early spring. Even just eating strictly vegan, organic, and sugar and gluten-free for a week or so can be helpful. Make sure to consume many dark leafy green vegetables and drink lots of water. A short water or vegetable juice fast may also be helpful, depending on your age, state of health, lifestyle, and degree of commitment to the fast. Another option is the fasting mimicking diet, developed by Dr. Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California. This five- day program provides pre-selected and prepared meals designed to affect the body in a way that mimics water fasting. It is appropriate for those who are unable to or choose not to do a more stringent fast or detoxification. Check out the Valter Longo Foundation to learn more.
This blog’s offer: I will be trying out Dr. Longo’s fasting mimicking five day program in mid-January 2019, and would be glad to share my experiences and suggestions. Feel free to contact me with questions about this and about detoxification in general. And have a happy, healthy New Year.