ZooFit Holiday Guide: How to Have a Happy Holiday

Holidays are thought to be one of the most stressful times of the year. If you find yourself getting in a tizzy this season, ZooFit is here to help give you peace of mind and de-stress your winter.

The most important thing I can impart on anyone looking to reduce stress and get into the holiday spirit is to get enough sleep. However, most of us aren’t getting enough sleep. We need between 7-10 hours of sleep a night, but a majority of us only get 5-6 every night. During the holidays, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number goes down.

Moving and eating are considered the foundations for good health. If that’s true (which I’m of the opinion to agree), then sleep is the BEDROCK on which our foundations lay. I can’t stress this enough. “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” E Joseph Cossman, while not a scientist or sleep expert, was right on the money. If you want to improve your life, start with a good night’s sleep.

    • Here are some holiday tips to help you get some quality shut-eye
      • Shut off the television/computer/phones at least one hour before going to bed. The blue lights from our screens signals our brains to stay alert and awake. Make the hour before you go to bed a screen-free time block. You can do anything EXCEPT look at your computer or phone. Put your phone away, turn off your computer and television. Set this time to start unwinding- read a book, take a bath or shower, meditate, anything you wish to get ready for the next day. Just keep off the computer.
      • Stop eating at least 2 hours before going to bed. Again, like looking at blue lights, eating a full meal too close to bedtime can cause severe sleep disruptions. It can also cause heartburn, acid reflux, and attribute to weight gain. If you can’t help it during the holidays (say you are traveling or special circumstances kept you from eating earlier), avoid foods high in carbohydrates. Proteins or foods low on the glycemic index are your best choices for later in the evening snacking. And go as light as possible for the meal. Eating SOMETHING is better than starving, but you don’t need a five course meal before hitting the hay either.
      • Stop drinking caffeine AT LEAST 5 hours before going to bed. Caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours, which means five hours after you drink it, half of it is still in your system. Better choices for the afternoon and evening are chamomile tea, lavender, or sleepy time blends. I usually drink a wonderful turmeric and cinnamon tea which is also an anti-inflammatory. Ditch the coffee for something which will help you sleep, and say sweet dreams.
      • Do your workout or your main exercise for the day earlier if possible. If you do exercise in the evening, don’t just make it low impact, but low intensity, too. Stretching, mobility, yoga, tai-chi, and lite Pilates are better choices than HIIT, Strength training, cardio, or even most ZooFit workouts. Getting your heart rate up right before trying to go to sleep is like giving a kindergartener a lollipop and a puppy and telling them to take a nap.

My husband is really happy I brought this topic up. Over the past four months or so, he has really made sleep a priority in his life, and there is not one aspect of his life which has not benefitted from the changes he’s made.

We have been eating well and exercising daily for years now. But less than a month of making sure he gets over 7 hours of sleep a night improved not only Chris’ energy, but his general mood as well. He has never been much of a morning person, but now when I get up in the morning, he is not grumpy or cranky. Sleep improves our memory, metabolism, and is essential for a healthy immune system. All of these benefits I have seen first hand in my husband simply by making sleep a priority.

We turned our bedroom into a sleep-haven. It’s a dark, cold cave with black-out curtains over the windows and even a curtain to cut out light from the bedroom door. He invested in a nice eye mask, ear plugs, and lavender scent for the bedroom, which has a very calming effect. Since he usually gets up at 3 or 4 in the morning for work (and because our cats wake him up so he can feed them), Chris makes sure he is in bed no later than 7 pm. Eight hours in bed does not equate to 8 hours of sleep.

Now, at the risk of overwhelming my readers with so much goodness their minds implode, sleep isn’t the only thing we can change to reduce our stress. Sometimes we need help in the moment. That’s where breathing comes into play.

Here’s the thing about breathing. We can live weeks without food, days without water, but we can live only a few precious moments without air. Breathing is therefore a staple we need to focus on for our well-being. A great method for breathing is breathe in through your nose, into your BELLY (our diaphragm is the most underutilized muscle in our body), and then exhale slightly longer than your inhale, ideally also through your nose. When you are feeling stress get to you, stop and take a couple deliberate breaths. You will be amazed at how much this simple action can center you and prevent you from reacting versus responding.

A great practice is to simply concentrate on a series of calming and focusing words while you breathe deeply. You can use any series of words, but for this time of year, why don’t we focus on Holidays.

  • H- Hummingbird- we are doing all we can, doing our best, and we can ask no more of ourselves
  • O- Optimize- Optimus=Best version of ourselves, moment to moment
  • L- Love- not just love of our neighbor, but love for ourselves
  • I- Inspire- be a radiant exemplar and shine as an example for all to see
  • D- Discipline- Turn theories to practice to mastery.
  • A-Arete- Arete means Excellence/Virtue. We are what we repeatedly do, excellence therefore is not an action, but a habit.
  • Y-You- This could mean YOU, You, as in yourself, or the person you are with. Be present with your own self and with the others around you. You are important.
  • S-Smile- As you feel the confidence growing- We’ve got this! Let’s do it! Bring it on!

Sleeping and breathing. Two very simple actions which can change your whole outlook and improve your mood during this stressful and overwhelming season. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of the holidays.

Be merry, live well, and train positive!

One Comment

  1. Love the H.O.L.I.D.A.Y.S acronym! Sleep is the most important and practicing your breathing / meditation is a very close second. In fact I use my breathing strategies to get to sleep better.

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