Don’t you wish that you could just take the time right now for a luxurious and blissfully indulgent spa weekend? There’s nothing like the hustle and hurry of the holiday season to make even the most seasoned shopper long for a bit of time out! Long years spent in the grueling trenches of holiday retail have taught this witch a few tricks and I’ve learned that if I just give myself an extra bit of TLC during the month of December that life is looking pretty good by the Winter Solstice! So here is my Yuletide gift to you in the form of some of my most relaxing tips to keep the holidays special, sparkling and bright!
First of all make sure that you’re taking the time to eat right. For every piece of candy or every Christmas cookie that you eat (and I am the first to admit that I’ll enjoy plenty this month!) make sure that you eat at least 2 pieces of fresh fruit, or a snack of fresh vegetables with a bit of cheese. Salads as often as possible this month can really help to move the sugar through your system, just remember to watch the dressing. If you’ve got a juicer, try to have at least one glass of fresh juice today to gently detoxify your system!
If you can’t stomach a lot of raw food when it’s cold outside and many people can’t, steamed vegetables and a bit of chicken or fresh fish are a good bet. I’ve noticed recently that most good salad bars are filled with yummy grains, like quinoa and plenty of options like cooked butternut squash and beets, both of which are root vegetables and will serve to ground you and keep you warm during this strenuous season. Let your instincts guide you and generally you’ll choose the foods you need!
You need even more hydration than normal when its Christmassy cold and dry outside so I love to sip lots of green tea or my own herbal tea blend (I love red rooibos tea blended with cinnamon, pink peppercorn and sage!), sweetened with agave nectar or raw honey. I can’t say it enough, if you’re a coffee drinker, alternate between tea or sparkling water. If you have a soda-stream machine you can make your own, but if not why not buy good seltzer water and flavor it yourself? One of my favorites this time of year is a classic combination of soda, peppermint essential oil or extract and a bit of chocolate syrup with about a teaspoon of agave nectar. Stir, pour over ice and enjoy! You can add juice to soda water or even flavored green tea to make a healthy spritzer. No sugar laden cola beverages need apply!
If you overindulge one evening just jump back on the bandwagon! After a night of too much eggnog (and who can resist too much eggnog every now and then!) just make sure that the next day is filled with food that’s as “clean” as possible and by this I mean nothing processed and everything simple and fresh! Drink lots of fresh water and add some extra vitamin B and in a few hours you’ll feel like new again!
Make sure that you get plenty of fresh air this time of year even if it’s cold outside. Just bundle up and take a quick walk or if you have an office, open the window, shut the door and do a few simple yoga stretches. If you can take a walk before you go to work in the morning begin and end it with a few simple stretches. Then sit down and drink a cup of tea and read something delightful even if it’s only for 15 minutes. This will relax and prepare you for the busy day ahead. If you can, crack the window just a teeny bit before you go to bed. Numerous studies have shown that a temperature anywhere between 65 or 70 degrees along with a bit of fresh air creates the most restful environment!
A bath or a lovely shower at the end of a long day is my idea of nirvana, but a bath in the morning before work is true pampering. My mother used to take one everyday and she swore by them. If you can, get up early one weekday and fill up the tub with bubbles or delicious bath oil. LIght a couple of lovely candles and make sure that the water's not too hot, nor too cold.. just a temperature that relaxes and refreshes you. If you want, add a sugar or salt scrub to keep your skin glowing, Then slip out of the tub, wrap yourself in a huge bath sheet and moisturize with a light sesame, olive or almond oil. Don’t forget a spritz of your favorite perfume and you’ll feel ready for the busiest day.
If you don’t have time for a bath, how about throwing a big handful of fresh or dried herbs like lavender, rose, peppermint or lemon verbena into a pot for a wonderful facial steam. Bring the herbs and water to a simmer, put your head over the pot and cover your head and shoulders with a soft loose towel for a few minutes. Afterwards, splash some cool water on your face and spritz with some rosewater that you can buy at any health food store. A light massage of your favorite moisturizer will have your skin glowing and ready for makeup if you wear it!
Don’t forget to winterize your hair, which at this time of year can be frizzy, and flyaway from the dry air and forced artificial heat of our environments. I love to make my own hair mayonnaise when I get a chance and it’s easy to do! I simply put two eggs in the blender, some lavender or rose essential oil and turn it on. Drizzle about a cup of olive oil in to the mixture while the blender is turning at it’s highest speed and voila’, you’ve got a wonderful hair treatment! Wet your hair with warm water, towel dry and apply the mayonnaise for about ½ hour covering your hair with a towel. Shampoo it out, let it air dry and enjoy your silky, soft and completely manageable hair! If you don't have time to make your own, just grab a cup of olive oil mayonnaise and stirr the essential oils into it. Use in the same way for absolutely beautiful results!
If you’re lucky enough to have someone around to give you a healing massage don’t hesitate to ask for one this time of year (don’t forget to give as good as you get!) but if not you can give yourself a very good self massage quite easily! Keep a tube of peppermint foot cream and another of your favorite hand cream in your purse or briefcase at all times. When you feel in need of a quick break, just give yourself a simple hand massage by gently pulling on each finger and rubbing the cream into your palms, massaging all of the tendons in your hands. Be sure to rub your neck and shoulders, the easiest way to do this is to interlock the fingers in both hands and then use your thumbs to massage gently all of the way around your head and neck. You’ll be surprised when in a few minutes you’re feeling refreshed and ready to tackle all of that unfinished Christmas business!
Last but definitely not least, be sure to set the scene for the holiday that you want. Fill your home with candles and fresh greens, and let yourself enjoy the sounds and spirit of the season. Have this holiday season be the way that YOU want it to be. Too often these days our holidays are dictated by marketing groups sitting isolated in their offices far away. Instead, why don’t you choose what you want your December to look like this year. If you want your home to be a peaceful haven completely removed from the holiday madness then that’s what you should create but if you want the Norman Rockwell/ Martha Stewart version go ahead and try that too! Just don’t stress yourself out with images of perfection that are airbrushed and unrealistic. Take a deep breath, jump in and enjoy yourself. FInd a family to feed or a shut -in relative to visit. Start a food drive in your community or go ice skating with your sweetheart.The best tip I've got for stres reduction during the holidays? Make sure that you've got plenty of mistletoe for kissing under! This is a season full of magic and good wishes and my wish for you is the very happiest and most original of holidays this year!
None of these pictures are mine! I'm not sure where to attribute them though.