“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” – Maya Angelou
This quote is the true embodiment of the holiday season — we are chronically on the verge of losing our mind. There’s so much to love — the chill in the air, twinkling lights about town, fresh baked cookies, and hopefully some quality time with family (and maybe even a few awesome gifts). But hey, we’ve got to remember life is all about balance, and where there’s plenty to love, there is also plenty to dread — bone chilling weather often accompanied by hours of shoveling out your car, hours of untangling holiday lights, wondering if you’ll ever eat a green vegetable again, and the common blanket of soft depression that envelops us in a season that triggers painful or unprocessed emotions and memories.
There may be magical moments accompanied by pockets of exhaustion and dread, which is why I’m offering three simple ways to stay on the positive side. Tune in to how you think, how you act, and how you eat. Try these three simple suggestions to keep yourself on the path of holiday cheer.
Find a quiet space. If that sentence triggered a sarcastic giggle, go to the bathroom, shut the door, put down the lid, and take a seat. Seriously. It could be the only place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit tall, close your eyes, and relax your shoulders. Let your hands rest above your knees with you right palm down (the side that gives) and your left palm (the side that receives) facing up. Cultivate calm, even breath in and out through your nostrils. Begin to repeat the mantra to yourself (in your mind or out loud):
Inhale: I let go …
Exhale: … to experience freedom.
Depending on your allotted time, do this for one minute, or as long as you comfortably can. The longer you sit, the easier it is to move past the initial distraction in your mind and truly connect with the words and the meaning behind them. This is a particularly useful mantra during a season where we are constantly juggling travel, family, large groups, painful past memories, or general pressure to be everywhere at once. This mantra can shine a ray of light on clouded moments where you can’t seem to sort through the mess.
Carve out some you time. For example, bundle up (assuming you’re in cold weather) and take yourself for a walk (bring a dog or two if you can). The simplicity of connecting with nature (regardless of her wild elements) is always medicinal. If you have a noisy gerbil brain, try downloading a few of your favorite podcasts and digest them as you walk. It’s an opportunity to be alone, reconnect, breath fresh air, and maybe even flex the muscles of your brain with a though provoking podcast.
Assuming you live in an absolutely frigid environment and a walk is out of the question, take a hot bath instead. Fill it with magnesium or Epsom salts (fantastic for soothing sore muscles and calming the body) and a splash of lavender essential oil (also wonderful for easing the nerves). Turn on some music or a podcast, and allow yourself to bask in the cleansing element of water.
There are two major risks \ during the holiday season: over indulging (and subsequently feeling like crap) or getting hangry from going non-stop and thus becoming a walking time-bomb. This insanely simple recipe works double duty — it gives you a healthy dose of protein to keep you trucking, healthy fat to keep you full (b’bye hangry), and satiates your sweet tooth without triggering holiday guilt.
1 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup chocolate protein powder*
1/2 cup almonds, ground or almond meal
2 teaspoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*choosing a good powder makes all the difference. I use Sun Warrior Warrior Blend in Chocolate
Combine room temperature coconut oil with your protein powder in a large bowl and whisk until fully combined.
If you’re working with whole or sliced almonds, place into a high speed blender such as a Vitamix and blitz for about 20 seconds, or until transformed into a meal consistency. If you have almond meal already, you’re ready to go!
Combine almond meal, honey and vanilla extract to your coconut mix and fold in completely.
Place a large piece of parchment paper into a 9×5 bread pan and pour everything in. Smooth out the top with a spoon and transfer to the freezer for an hour or overnight.
Remove from the freezer and lift your fudge out of the loaf pan. Remove the parchment paper and cut into individual squares to serve.
These bars will soften quickly, so keep in the freezer until ready to serve!