Lying in bed late one November night, you gaze out your bedroom window and see snow falling. Gleefully, your thoughts turn to the holiday season but delight suddenly turns to terror and you dive under the covers to escape the upcoming chaos. "Holiday horror" can be brought on by thoughts of crowded shopping malls, burnt Christmas cookies and gaudy snowmen sweaters.
The key to a quick recovery is to take care of yourself so you can actually enjoy the festive season. Here are 10 tips to help you do just that.
Outfit yourself in head-to-toe winter gear, grab your kids or a friend and head to the nearest snow hill for the ultimate in winter fun: tobogganing. Too many of us get wrapped up in holiday planning and forget to enjoy the winter weather – and each other. No minced meat pie is worth making when you can enjoy fun times with loved ones instead.
You don't have to be a certified yoga expert to realize the benefits of a little solitude. For 30 years, integrative medicine guru and founder of the program in integrative medicine (PIM) at the University of Arizona, Andrew Weil, M.D., has endorsed the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of meditation. Take a yoga break by learning to focus your awareness and direct it onto objects like an image, a word repeated silently or an inspirational passage. In a quiet space, sit up straight or lie down, close your eyes, and begin to relax your body as you focus on your desired object for a minimum of five minutes. According to Dr. Weil's website (www.drweil.com), even walking or sitting in a natural environment "is an antidote to being too focused on thoughts and emotions."
3. Take a bath
One of the most cost-effective and simplistic ways of pampering yourself is to shut everyone out of the bathroom and run a bath. Water temperatures should remain between 34-36 degrees for optimum relaxation according to Kailee Kline, president of Toronto's Healthwinds Health and Wellness Spa. Many beauty/health companies offer consumers a plethora of bath products to soothe or invigorate the body. Try Kiehl's sumptuous Lavender Foaming-Relaxing Bath with Sea Salts and Aloe Vera (available online at www.kiehls.com) or for muscle relaxation, try Kneipp's Juniper Herbal Bath. Tip: For added sensory pleasure, brew a cup of your favourite herbal tea before bathtime.
Page 1 of 3 – Discover how spa treatments can help you de-stress over the holidays on page 2.
If your over-worked body can't muster the strength to turn the taps on, surrender yourself to a spa treatment. Kline says the combination of holiday stress and cold weather causes lethargy, and muscles to tense up. "Stress levels are high [at this time of the year] and people are in their worst moods when they should be in their best." Healthwinds offers an exclusive Hydrotherapy Bath Treatment that boasts 120 water air jets and a high-pressure underwater massage wand that left this writer literally speechless. For those on limited budgets, cost-friendlier treatments like body scrubs and toxin-releasing massages that help the body fight off colds are your best bets.
5. Join a Run/Walk Club
If joining a group whose main objective is to run on ice and snow isn't your idea of pampering yourself, you may be missing out on several benefits. By setting aside time for yourself during the week, you not only get to burn those extra calories, you also remove yourself from the demands of work and home. Best of all, it's a great excuse to socialize. The Running/Walking Room, with locations across Canada, offers clinics for all levels ranging from "Learn to Run" to "Marathon." Dawn Heighton, an assistant manager at a Toronto Running Room store says there is nothing more motivating than a run. "[Running] keeps energy up to get you through the winter months. [You can] hang out later with group members and have a giggle." Check out www.runningroom.com for a store near you.
6. Rent your favourite flick
Dedicate an evening to pajamas and popcorn and rent your favourite movie. Send your hubby and kids on their way or tell friends you are flying solo as you slouch into the couch and watch something that's chosen just for you.
Page 2 of 3 – Find out how shopping for yourself this Christmas can make the season a little less stressful on page 3.
7. Buy yourself a present
Forget what Uncle Robert wants this holiday season for a moment and buy that pair of gorgeous earrings or those to-die-for boots you're longing for. You don't have to spend a fortune on yourself; a little token will make up for all that mall-hopping.
8. Just breathe
Concentrated breathing helps calm your nerves and lets you step back from a strenuous situation. Begin by closing your eyes for a few minutes, keep your back straight and take a deep, audible sigh, then silently inhale and notice how slow and deep you can comfortably breathe.
9. Visit an art gallery
During busy times, we forget to indulge our senses with the beauty that surrounds us. Leave the outside world behind for a while and become enraptured by colours and textures at your local art gallery.
10. Chat with a friend
Not every social gathering demands your skills as a hostess. Meet your friends at a local coffee shop and dish the dirt on the latest gossip. Keep it local – meeting at a busy mall will only remind you of unfinished gift lists.
Don't allow feelings of guilt to work their way into your plans for pampering yourself. Remember that it's not your responsibility to ensure everyone is having a good time during the holidays, but if you're able to peacefully enjoy the delights of the season, your joy just may become contagious.
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