Three Ways To Be Well And Stay Well This Holiday Season

At Sea To Peak Financial Advisors we’re constantly focused on your financial wellbeing.   As we embark on this most unusual holiday season, we are also reminded that wellbeing includes our mind, body, and soul.  Of course, we can still expect all of the joy, excitement, and nostalgia that comes with this time of year.  But we can also anticipate that the normal stress that goes hand in hand with the holidays is almost certainly going to be magnified as we navigate a global pandemic and prolonged confinement with our loved ones or perhaps because we are without them. With that in mind, here are 3 things experts recommend that we are doing to stay well – walking, eating, and yes, relaxing!

When walking (or rolling), the key is to do so like a toddler (perhaps without the falling down.)      This relates more to consciously being “in awe” of all the things around us.  A study published by the journal Emotion looked at two groups of adults that took 15 minute weekly walks for eight weeks.  The group that was asked to note things that inspired a sense of “awe” (i.e. a beautiful view, colors of the trees, smell of the fresh air), subsequently showed less distress and more joy, compassion, and gratitude than the other group.   Just yesterday on my walk I noticed the crisp fresh air and geese flying overhead.

While we will be enjoying some of our favorite holiday treats this year, we know that eating can also be problematic when we overindulge.  Additionally, if we are busy, we are eating food quickly while juggling all the tasks of modern life and our taste buds can barely register what we just ate. We are guessing that we are not alone here.   An article by Harvard Medical School notes a small study showing that mindful eating techniques can not only contribute to weight loss, but they can also lead to a decrease in hunger, stress, anxiety, depression and binge eating.  What exactly is mindful eating? Mindful eating involves sitting down and putting distractions out of reach.  Slowing down to savor every bite of food.  Some techniques to help mindful eating include chewing each bite of food 30 times, turning off the tv, sitting at the kitchen table, setting a timer for 20 minutes and stretching your meal to take up all of that time.  This magic timer of 20 minutes gives our bodies the necessary time it needs to react and interpret the food you are ingesting.  This is the time necessary for our stomach and intestines to self-regulate and send satiety signals to the brain, letting us know when we are full.  So unlike those fitness instructors that can sometimes incessantly shout at us to speed up, this technique is all about slowing down.

Finally, relaxation.  We’re not just talking about kicking our feet up to watch TV (although we did really enjoy The Queens Gambit.)   True stress management techniques involve more intention.  According to an article by Health Science Journal one evidence-based process that reduces stress and promotes health is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).  This practice of strategically tensing and releasing muscle groups throughout your body in a sequential manner has been shown to reduce pain or perception of pain, decrease anxiety, and teach patients to learn to relax.  We’ve tried this and it really helps.

So now that you are armed with these scientifically proven techniques, go forth, and view the world as a child, take your time to enjoy every bite of delicious food, and most importantly, relax.   And let us know how it goes.    From our family to yours, enjoy this holiday season, and be well!