10 More Gifts To Give To YOU
Part 2 of 2: Sometimes the Things We Need Most Are These Intangibles.
Are you budgeting and shopping and ordering and wrapping and just generally dealing with a lot of holiday STUFF? Well, it is that "most wonderful" time of the year. Special items can certainly make the season bright. (I'm still celebrating my spin bike 12 months after last December!) But sometimes what we need most are the intangible things we don't always bestow upon ourselves. In part 2 of this holiday post are 10 more gifts you may really need right now. Each one can carry well into 2022 and beyond.
11. A buddy—A health & wellness pal doesn’t have to be a best friend or spouse. If they are, awesome. If not, finding someone who supports & admires your fitness efforts is invaluable… especially in December when tumbleweeds are practically rolling through the deserted gym. Surely someone likable in your life shares your passion or at least can recommend a great health coach or online group. If you feel isolated in your wellness routine, give yourself the gift of reaching out for support.
12. A break—If you exercise ALL the time and/or are generally sick of it, then afford yourself a break. Being too locked into exercise & a rigid diet day after day can land you in a state of burnout. Forbes magazine fitness contributor Noma Nazish writes, “[Exercise burnout’s] physical effects include lethargy, decreased performance, delay in recovery and an overall decline in your fitness progress, among other things. Mentally, it can make you feel utterly bored or drained out. So much so, that you begin to dread working out.” Step back—just set a parameter as to when you’ll jump back in.
13. Some convenience —Holiday time can be both a heck of a lot of fun and a heck of a headache. If stress is bubbling to the boiling point, consider making your wellness routine a little more convenient. Skip the gym but exercise at home (or by walking around downtown to take in the holiday sights or skating or skiing, etc). Plan a weekly, healthy take-out dinner option. Have groceries delivered. Beg a relative to cook some yummy, nutritious meals for you. (Okay, good luck on that one! You might get away with framing it as your Christmas gift, though!)
14. Boost by pet—When you’re not feeding, walking, or emptying the litter boxes of pets, have you noticed how fantastic they can make you feel? Well, according to the NIH, the benefits of pet ownership are the real deal: “Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.” Don’t have or want a kept critter? Visit a shelter or pet sit. Consider it the animal equivalent of having grandkids, lol!
15. Complete quiet—Did you say, What is THAT? If you did, then you may be overdue for a delicious spell of silence. It need not involve a retreat or even a full day, but believe it or not, building some true quiet into your life can benefit health in the following ways: lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, helping the brain grow new cells, decreasing stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline.
16. A good night’s sleep—Good sleep often becomes a more maddening pursuit during the holiday season. Our schedules get upended. Our eating can change a lot. So can emotions. Even extra lights (though they be festive) may keep us awake later. If you’re struggling, troubleshoot your bedtime habits and pick a treat: nightly yoga and a warm shower, a luxurious sleep mask and/or ear plugs, even just simply sticking to set bed & wake times.
17. Sharing with others—It’s not called the season of giving for nothing. According to research, reaching out to others, whether via donations of things, money or your time or simply lifting up a family member or friend, benefits the giver as well as the receiver.
18. Reflection—The New Year provides that perfect, little suspended space in which we can look both backward and forward. Reviewing life blessings, aka practicing gratitude, imbues more blessings. Check out this list of 28 researched health benefits related to gratitude. And of course, looking ahead, we can enjoy the exhilaration of setting new goals. Pro tip: just keep the list succinct and actually doable.
19. A little burst of prayer—Rooted in spirituality, the season reminds us not that we HAVE to practice or exhibit faith in some strictly prescribed way, but to remember that we’re spiritual as well as physical beings. When the spirit suffers, so does health. In late 2014, Harvard Medical School held a symposium and “Spirituality and Healing.” You’ll find the fascinating discussion here.
20. And lots of Love, of course—Above all, indulge in love. Love is actually an incredibly complex, enigmatic emotion, say scientists. As of 2018, the NIH was conducting 18 clinical trials on it! What we do know is that love triggers dopamine and oxytocin in our brains and that feels great. Regardless of the physiology, it’s “what the world needs now,” right? So spread some around your neck of the woods. I’m sending you some from mine.