Holiday priority number one: Take care of yourself | AspenTimes.com

Holiday priority number one: Take care of yourself

Barbara Platts

Christmas is practically here.

This is usually the time of year I like to write about delicious Christmas meals, a surplus of boozy holiday drinks and skiing on powder days. Now, don't get me wrong, all of those things are still very important. I love this time of year. The Christmas music playing in the stores warms my heart, and the amount of tasty food I've consumed over the past few weeks has brought me huge amounts of joy.

However, this year more than ever before, I'm feeling the true stress that the holidays bring. I'm not exactly sure why it hit so hard this December. Maybe I just didn't plan ahead properly, perhaps I've been focusing more on work and other things, or maybe I'm simply getting older and realizing that the magic of the holidays can come at a cost. Gone are the days where presents would just show up under the tree and we had nothing to do except play with those gifts and enjoy our time away from school. Now the world doesn't stop just because the holidays are here. Sadly, this time of year adds more to our plates instead of less.

Now, please don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to Grinch up your holiday week. But I do think it's a stressful time of year and, because of this, there are some simple things we can do to take care of ourselves. Here are the main things I plan to focus on …

Sleep: Possibly one of the most underrated things we do in our lives is also one of the most vital. In the long run, sleeping enough helps ward off the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. But it's not just about the long game. If you don't get enough sleep in the short term, it can cause overactive anxiety, forgetfulness and even added stress on relationships. Those are three things that none of us need during the holidays. So, even though it's easier said than done, a strategy for self care this holiday season is to stick to your normal sleep routine. Yes, there are endless amounts of things to do right now, but maintaining a good night's sleep will make you better-equipped to handle it all.

Eat healthy: I wrote about this extensively in my column before Thanksgiving, but it's so important, I'm bringing it up again. During the holidays, we make up a lot of excuses when it comes to our diets. I've probably eaten my body weight in chocolate in the past month. While it's glorious at the time of consumption, the sugar crash after is often more stress than it's worth. That's not to say you shouldn't eat chocolate or whatever your favorite holiday treat is, but just balance that out with vegetables and lots of water. These should be constants during each of your meals. Yes, I know that's not a lot of fun. The idea that the holidays is a vacation away from healthy eating does sound appealing, but it usually leaves us worse off than when we started.

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Take time to yourself: During the holidays, we're supposed to spend our energy on loved ones, but it's hard to do that if we simply have no energy to give. So, if and when you need it, take some alone time. That could mean a couple laps on the mountain by yourself, a yoga class in town or maybe just a brief meditation away from everyone else. A nap is also an option, as we discussed earlier in this column. Whatever relaxes you and helps you reset, schedule time every day (yes, each one) to do it.

So, in conclusion, don't let the stress of the holidays inhibit your ability to enjoy them. These times of year are supposed to be fun, after all.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Barbara Platts really does love the holidays … even if this column makes it seem otherwise. Reach her at bplatts.000@gmail.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.