Finding Balance within the Holidays

Finding balance within the holiday season has been something most of us have struggled with for years. From having visitors and family over to dinners and endless days of navigating through shoppers, it is easy to say Christmas is quickly overwhelming. We lose hours of sleep, eat meals that may not be the most nutritious and over-schedule to a new degree. It is hard enough on a human body but if you add pregnancy hormones, cold weather and edema, a growing baby and some of the discomforts that come along with specific weeks of pregnancy, you may feel as if you don’t want to leave the house.

It’s hard to find the time to care for ourselves when so much is going on but here are a few self-care tips to hopefully ease some of that holiday stress.
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1) Breathe.
You think you’re already doing it don’t you? In and out, in and out, we saturate ourselves in oxygen all hours of the day, but how often do you stop to think about breathing? When you draw attention to this mindless process, you may realise that your inhales are short and may only extend your chest. Try drawing in air and feel it roll down the back of your throat and into your belly. Feel your belly fill and slowly allow it to exhale.
That is a breath. It is releasing and full; It allows more of your cells access to oxygen, a vital element to our every moment. It provides mental awareness and flow within us.
Try bringing awareness to your breath in periods of stress or during conversations or activities that you may not be too fond of doing. Your breath will always be with you, slow and steady. You are in control of it and if you can turn your focus inwards, you are reminding your body of your power and connection to the elements. Try connecting to your breath in the shower, while driving, even when you’re walking into someone’s house. A few minutes a day of breath awareness can change more than a few minutes of tomorrow.

Here is a little article on the power of breath for you to enjoy.
http://nabeelafsar.com/2014/05/20/the-benefits-of-mindful-breathing/

 
2) Snack.
We all know the holidays are full of snack trays and meals. Look in any direction and you will find an advertisement for a peppermint mocha frapped eggnog  something or other or a tray of meat and cheese, cookies, crackers, nuts and my personal favourite—chocolates. Indulging is part of the holidays. We love to eat with people. Food is a language of its own and there’s no questions asked about why we always pile into the kitchen during any party: everyone loves food.
There is, however, a personal limit we all have to make when it comes to some of the highly processed treats we may have in front of us—especially if we are nourishing not only our body, but a placenta and a growing baby.
Try and watch how many cookies, crackers, and cakes you take in especially if they are made of highly processed ingredients. Crackers are a delicious vessel in my eyes, but vegetable slices or seed rich crackers are always a great alternative. If you know that your family or party isn’t too big on alternative options, be the person to bring them. Change their minds on ingredients and show them that flax and hemp crackers or cucumber can carry that cream cheese dip or hummus just as well as the saltines.
Better yet, bring something without telling them exactly what the base is made of and see if they can tell the difference.

 

Try these brownies from Minimalist Baker for example—They are so easy to make and I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t like them.
http://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-gluten-free-black-bean-brownies/

 

Find your protein source! There is always a way to either find a direct protein like meat or nuts or create one through a combination of foods. Protein can help take away some of the jitters of too much sugar or caffeine, it ensures that we have a stable energy source instead of a high followed by a crash and if you are experiencing morning sickness or food hang-overs, protein can help put your body back in check. If you are always running around, try keeping nuts in your purse. Make up some hearty salads with a quinoa, lentil or bean base and all in all sorts of veggies, fresh herbs or meat of your choice. A lot of the time we will crave sugary items when we need protein so try eating a piece of chicken or handful of nuts, maybe some cottage cheese or something with protein before reaching for a piece of cake to get you through.
I cannot tell you how much protein you need for your blooming body so it is best to take not only your physical stature into account, but your lifestyle factors and accessibility to specific protein rich items.
Here is a list of some foods that contain protein.
http://www.mynetdiary.com/protein-foods-in-diet.html

 

 

3) DRINK.
You know when you’re going back and forth from work to the store, picking up kids, hiding gifts or volunteering and then it hits you? That awful feeling of did I even drink a glass of water since I got out of bed? It leaves you light headed, feeling weak and can change so many chemical components within your body. Did you know your blood volume doubles during pregnancy? That is only one of many good reasons why it is important to be aware of your liquid intake. Water flushes toxins, it keeps your cells hydrated, it can be a vessel for many nutrients like when you have soups, broths, or herbal teas.
Again, I cannot tell you how much water your body needs to stay hydrated, but the recommended amount is 2 litres for an average body. If you are not drinking 2 litres a day to begin with, try increasing your liquids to that amount. Buy yourself a lovely reusable water bottle and add things like cranberries, lemons or limes, cucumber, hibiscus or herbal tea bases to keep yourself sipping. Yes, sipping.. All day long! It will help keep your electrolytes in check and ensure that your digestion is always in motion. If you find that you are waking up in the night to urinate more frequently than you would like, try taking in most of your liquids before mid-afternoon and avoid mugs of tea after dinner.

 

Here is some information on how to choose herbs for your stage of pregnancy (try making some mocktails, jazz the holiday season up!)
http://avivaromm.com/herbal-medicines-in-pregnancy-safety

 

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4) Kick your feet up, stay a while.

Yes, stay a while. Find the things that make you feel loved or calm and stay within those moments and put your feet up. Winter can be a harsh time for our bodies especially in the way of edema—swelling from excess fluids remaining stagnant in our body. Allowing your limbs the chance to defy gravity and stretch out can help with these discomforts—especially if you have been spending a lot of time on your feet. If you have the ability to rest your feet on a chair and gently rub your feet or stroke upwards from your feet to your thighs, you can gently relieve some of these discomforts. You can also include essential oils like rosemary or clove to bring extra awareness or warmth to areas of your body that may need it. *please be advised that these two oils have been used to raise blood pressure and must be used at your own risk.

Here are some tips from Modern Mom to help relieve swelling.
http://www.modernmom.com/e67a33f4-3b3d-11e3-be8a-bc764e04a41e.html

5) Release.

The holidays can be full of stress. We love our family and friends but there are times when it is just too much. In this society, we tend to take on more than we can handle and find difficulty in saying no. Add in the financial stresses and pressures of the holiday season and you may find yourself at a new breaking point. I only have one thing to say about these feelings:

Release them.
It is a beautiful thing to find the time to break down. We may have been told over and over that we need to hold it together, that we need to get everything done and smile, we need to be good and truthful. One major part in all of this that so many people skip is being honest with your feelings. If you feel like you need to cry, make the time to release the tears. Release your feelings and the sensations. Creating tightness and holding onto the things that do not serve you may only create tension or problems down the road. When you move this negativity or stress out of your body, you create the space to fill it with something that serves you. It is a beautiful thing to release, and it is even more beautiful to recreate. Shed, become aware of your boundaries, say no to something that brings you no pleasure, say yes to something new, say yes to comforts, say yes to your feelings. They are a part of you and you deserve the space to experience your feelings no matter what they look like.
The holiday season is a time for love, for laughing, for creating memories. I wish you all a wonderfully warm and safe holiday season full of experiences that you may treasure for the rest of your life.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

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