With holiday gatherings, the opportunity to indulge in sweets and festive cocktails will soon surround us. Having some special treats that remind you of years gone past can be a beautiful experience.

Your favorite pumpkin pie or those special cookies your grandmother used to make can all contribute to this season feeling full and rich.  

I plan on making one of my favorite desserts, Kabocha Squash Pie. It’s like pumpkin pie, only richer and full of nutrition. (Click here for my favorite recipe!)

This season can be tricky to navigate at times. With the extra items on your to-do list, simple acts of self-care such as feeding yourself, getting enough sleep, and getting exercise can go right out the window.

And as they do, so can your ability to navigate the mire of emotions that come with this time of year.

How many times have you arrived at a holiday event full of anticipation only to find yourself unexpectedly caught up in old emotions soon after arriving?

I know as a child I would be so excited for the holidays only to end up crying at some point because none of my hopes and expectations were actually being met. 

The secret to navigating this time of year is simpler than you think.  Make sure you are taking the time to make self-care your priority.

If you maintain self care, hence maintain balance, then when Aunt Betty says that thing she always says that is so infuriating, you will be able to maintain your center and just walk away.  

When you let go of self-care, skip meals, make your to-do list more important than your “take care of myself” list, things might just get ugly.

A big part of ensuring steady energy and a festive mood is to ensure your blood sugar levels are balanced. Blood sugar regulation is all about how much you eat and when you eat it.

As your blood sugar goes low, your stress hormones go up. Yep, you read that correctly. Every time you skip a meal, stress hormones are released. It’s how your body deals with the internal emergency of not having what it needs to make energy.

If you arrive at a gathering hungry because you skipped meals, feeling out of balance due to moving too fast, or consuming excessive sugar and alcohol, and neglecting self-care, your ability to navigate triggers weakens because you are already internally stressed out.

Then you know how it goes. Since we are feeling badly, we lose our ability to make choices that will support us to feel good tomorrow. We start to self-soothe with… that’s right, foods and excess alcohol we know are not good for us! We end up in a vicious loop.   

Incorporating a little balance into the holidays will go a long way in making them the beautiful time we hope for.

Here are some tips to maintain holiday physical and mental steadiness:

🍽  Eat Before You Mingle: Have a healthy snack before an event; veggies and hummus, a handful of nuts, or a few bites of your favorite protein bar. Eating a small snack before you leave will significantly help you avoid the less-than-healthy hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

👛 B.Y.O.S: Bring Your Own Snacks! If you have dietary limitations, have foods with you that you can enjoy. I always bring my own crackers, for example.

🧘🏻‍♂️ Prioritize Your Daily Practice: Make sure to keep that daily practice in place. Even 5 minutes a day of sitting quietly and breathing can go a long way toward keeping you balanced.

🎉 Make Love Your Priority: Make connecting with the people you love more important than making sure everything is done just right.

Take simple steps every day to keep your overall internal stress level low and you can make this holiday season a truly merry one.  

May this season be filled with joy, warmth and happiness!

Happy holidays!r, DACM