The winter holidays can offer a much-needed break, a time to reflect and a time to catch up with loved ones. However, without intentional planning, the holidays can fly past leaving you in a daze of dinners and events leaving you wondering where all that time went. Here are five things to remember to take care of yourself and your thyroid (or lack thereof) during the holidays.
1. Continue to eat well
There is often a lot of food and baked goods involved during the holiday season. If there’s a dietary change you’ve committed to that has left you feeling better this year, stick to it during the holidays. A few months ago, I cut out dairy for good due to lactose intolerance and I’ve noticed a huge improvement in how I’m feeling. Most of us with thyroid issues know the importance of feeling well and maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of that. One tip is to try to plan for occasions where you may feel tempted. I have a stash of dairy-free sweet treats just in case, as I know that could be my undoing.
2. Maintain your routine (as much as possible)
This can be hard when events often go later into the night, but our bodies rely on good, regular sleep. Take your medication (e.g. T4 and T3) and vitamins as usual, at the regular time and try not to throw your sleep cycle off track. Your body will thank you for it and it won’t be as much of a drag getting back into the regular routine after the holidays.
3. Make some time for yourself
This year, I am making the effort to carve out some time just for myself during the holidays. It doesn’t have to be long, but among all the family and friend obligations, it’s important to cultivate that relationship with yourself. This protected time can be in the form of trying a new recipe, journaling, playing video games or making time to read that book you’ve been wanting to. I like that the end of the year is a natural time to reflect on how the year has been, taking stock of the years highlights, or what you’d like to focus on better for next year. Whatever it is you want to do, do it. Give yourself permission to laze around in your pajamas.
4. Get some physical activity in
If you’re like me, and this year was the one where you were able to finally start being more active, it’s important to maintain that over the holidays. I started swimming as a low-impact activity that would not hurt my already aching joints. The difference this made was astounding. Within a couple of months, I found that I had built up enough strength and stamina to start biking. Shortly after, I felt strong enough to start weight-lifting (something that my doctors had initially cautioned against). I now realize that if I’m not able to get some physical activity in, it leaves me feeling more lethargic and emotionally down. Schedule this in and make it a priority. For me, it works best if I work out first thing in the morning. That way, I don’t talk myself out of it due to tiredness at the end of the day.
5. Be gentle with yourself
As ambitious as I can be, I find that I often have to remind myself to “try less.” I did a Meditation for Health course by Dr. Lucinda Sykes which was truly life-changing. A great piece of advice she gave me was that when I found myself getting frustrated that I wasn’t on track with the program, I needed to take a step back, breathe and as contradictory as it sounds, not try as hard. Just an observation that most of the people who I know with thyroid issues are the ones who take everything on and strive for perfection- career, family, hobbies, side projects and so on. If everything doesn’t come together or heck, if nothing happens as planned, it’s okay.
There is a lot to be said for observing the moment and being mindful about what we do. And so this is a reminder to us all, to remember to be present during the holidays.
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