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Holiday Self-Care - Top 5 Tips for Stressed Out Crohnies!

'Tis the season for stress, ranging from anxiety bubbling beneath the surface to full blown depression, and everything in between.  The days are dark and long.  The food options at holiday parties are frightening.  Fa-la-la!

It's important as Crohnies to discover our individual path to taking extra special care of ourselves during seasons of heightened stress and demands on our bodies.  It's not just the holidays. Maybe you're a new parent.  Or starting a new job.  Whatever your stressful season, make sure you find time for healthy ways to decompress and unwind.

1.  Yoga

Whether you're a man or woman, old or young, flexible or inflexible, athletic or out of shape - find your path to a yoga practice.  Trust me on this one.  It will change your life.  I strongly encourage beginners, the inflexible, or apprehensive readers to specifically seek out "beginner" yoga, "gentle" yoga, "restorative" yoga, or "yin" yoga.  You must have a teacher.  Don't try YouTube or DVD's while starting out.  I make a 75-minute restorative yoga practice part of my Sunday night ritual.  It is MY time to carve space, decompress from a hectic weekend, and prepare for the coming week.

2. Radio/News OFF

You simply must turn off the incessant radio and television chatter to find peace.  Yes, there is a time and place for it, and I'm not saying to totally disconnect.  I have gotten so sucked into the 24/7 chatter in recent months that I have far higher anxiety than normal.  I have to find space to take breaks and moderate my exposure.  The news will be there later.  Your health is far more important, and living in a constant "fight or flight" state of heightened adrenaline is not good for managing autoimmune disease.

I have given up talk radio for podcasts - check them out and find your faves!  Whether you're an avid traveler or spiritual or love to cook - there is a podcast for you!  My faves are Rick Steves (travel), Serial (for fun), Chris Kresser (integrative medicine) and my local church.

3.  Meditative Walking

I find long walks set to a meditative app like "Calm" help me reset my stressed out state.  Yours may be a long hike with your dog, or a zumba class.  Whatever it may be, write it in your calendar.  It's far too easy to come up with excuses to skip out.  Your body and mind will thank you!

4.  Online Shopping

Who needs the crowds and the extra germs of packed malls and shopping centers?  Not me.  I do about 80% of my Christmas shopping online.  From the comfort of my couch, while wearing my pajamas with my kitty curled next to me.  Don't discount this as an insignificant self-care technique! How we spend our days greatly impacts our health, and wouldn't you rather have extra time for self-care than standing in a return line?

5.  Healthy Snacks

My determination to eat healthy is tested during the holidays, when all sorts of Crohn's no-no's show up everywhere - from the work break room to holiday parties to my own kitchen (thanks hubs! :/).  I keep a strict meal and snack regimen during the holidays so I'm less likely to succumb to bad choices. And I always pack healthy snacks with me wherever I go.  You never know when that shopping trip that was supposed to be an hour turns into 6 or you arrive starving at the office holiday party which has nothing you can eat!  Ladies, it's so easy for us to hide ziplocs of snacks in our purses inconspicuously.  Guys, try keeping some in your desk at work and also in your car.  Tuck a small protein bar in your coat pocket.

Your list may be different than mine, and that's the beauty of self-care!  Find what works for you - and make a note in your calendar to devote time.

Crohnies unite!


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