The Greatest Gift – Being Truly Present During the Holidays

I’m pretty sure I woke up today thinking it was summer and realized that it’s almost December, where did this year go?! I’m not going to stress though, because today I want to talk about getting through the holidays with minimal stress.

Most of us love our spouses, children, in-laws, extended family and friends, but even with all that love, when we see them in large volumes for extended amounts of time, it can test even the most loving hearts.  I was debating on writing this post about healthy food choices during the holidays, but quite honestly, most of us already know that we feel better when we don’t overeat, but our conditioned minds can overindulge on holiday meals even when we have the best intentions set in place. I get it, Grandmas chocolate haystacks; I never asked her for the recipe because I knew if I had it, I would make them all year long and they would lose that special holiday dopamine response coupled with stomach distress.

I will caution that food does have a direct impact on our mood, and there’s a true gut –brain connection that modern research is diving into at the moment (book recommendation: “A Mind of Your Own” by Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD). This shift in research is allowing us to move our future treatments geared towards dietary and nutritional changes to enhance overall mental health. Nutrition plays such a huge role in maintaining and creating a healthy living environment for our bodies!

During the holidays, best food sources of foods to help keep are brains sharp and bellies full are proteins,  good fats and minimal processed carbs (breads, pies, cakes, cookies, rolls, pastas, etc.).  This will help prevent that afternoon nap on the couch, covered up in Black Thursday/Friday ads.

Now let’s chat about mindfulness and living in the present! Holidays are truly amazing times to get together with loved ones and catch up with each other and spend that quality bonding time with people we have grown up around that we either love or lovingly disagree with.

Here are a few tips to make the most out of the Holidays:

  1. Be Self-Loving: As much as we feel the need to be around others 100% during the holidays, this is a perfect time to take 1 hour each morning to wake up, find a quiet place in your house to relax, meditate (recommendation: free apps like Headspace), read a book, journal, pray. Whatever you can do to just reset yourself for a great day ahead.  If you need more help with this, drop me an e-mail and I can give you some helpful tips.
  2. Be an Advocate for Yourself: Usually the holidays can be hectic at our jobs and we can feel stressed or burned out quite quickly. Make sure you are maintaining your boundaries and not letting your big heart guide you into overworking. The last thing you want to do is be sick throughout the holidays.
  3. Be Grateful: I have an exercise that I like doing before I go to bed, I write down 3 things that I am most grateful for during the day. Our subconscious thoughts rule our mind, so when we are stopping ourselves to listen to what our inner voice is saying; we have the power to make ourselves happy all the time. No matter what negative things happened during the day, there are always situations, events and people that I can say that I’m truly grateful for.
  4. Be Giving: When we give without expecting anything in return, somewhere down the road when we need that support, we will receive it back in 10 fold. My heart is always full knowing that giving others the opportunity to experience something they might not have been able to, makes the best gift of all.
    1. One fantastic way to give is to support one of my friends making 100 stockings for children this Winter season. She is looking for items to donate even if it’s cash or just a few items, anything will help give these children that have a hard time getting food in their bellies, some TLC this holiday season. Contact Danielle at
  5. Be Strategic: If you know you are going to a work or family event and there are a few people that zap your energy, steer clear from them. Being around people that are energy zappers, even if we aren’t conversing with them, can drain our valuable energy we could be spending with someone else. So, find out who will be at the gatherings that you adore, and stay close to those people throughout the event.
  6. Be Present & Have Fun: Disconnect from the new electronic gadgets you scored and bust out board games, card games, or any activity that you can laugh with each other and share that connection. Rinse off those spoons you used at lunch and play a round of spoons. My family loves busting out the quarters and dice (in a game called Left, Right, Center), it gets everyone going and so many laughs are shared.
  7. Be Healthy: At the end of the day, health is important to enjoying the holiday seasons. Make sure you are preventing illnesses by building your immune system (see prior blog articles), getting enough vitamins – especially Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C, and get into a practice of doing some type of exercise at least a few days a week.
  8. Be Aware: If you notice your mood shift as the seasons change, look at increasing your Vitamin D3 levels (I recommend Vitamin D3 injections at Vive IV Therapy I also recommend adding a “HappyLight” to your routine. I started using this light therapy box (which is free of UV rays) 30 days ago, and I love it! I purchased mine from Body & Soul on Asbury Road and I use it every morning when I wake up. As I am taking an hour to complete self-care tasks, I sit in front of this light. You can also keep it on your desk at work, or wherever you sit for periods of time. It only needs to be used 30min. to 2 hours daily to help mimic the impact of the sun.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.