Think of all the fun preparing for the Holidays. Yes it is stressful, but I have a few steps that will make these last days of the year easier. The problem with most parents is that they don’t take time for themselves to unwind. As the holidays come closer, they forget about what is healthy for them. We frequently talk about physical health and rarely mental health. The more pressures to get things done for the holidays, the more stressor chemicals in your brain are released. Try some of my suggestions and don’t say “Oh sure, or he’s crazy.” Don’t just read this, but actually practice these steps and make the effort to relax and rejuvenate.

Start by getting up a half hour early. Okay, how about 15 minutes? Tip-toe to the kitchen and get something to eat (no, not that sweet roll). Choose a beverage, toast, cereal…something you would tell your children was healthy. Not only will you be more relaxed, but you will kickstart your body first thing to ensure you have energy for the day. Take the other 15 minutes and make a sandwich for lunch. Focus on eating properly so your body can remain in a positive mental and psychical balance. Get the proper nutrients needed, and fight the urge to stop at your favorite fast food place.

The best foods to eat are those rich in protein. Fruits and vegetables are great. Chicken and fish are also good. The heavier the food (carbohydrates), the less benefit for you in the long run. Unfortunately carbohydrates usually are the yummiest and most mentally satisfying foods. Carbohydrates are fine for body builders during exercise or athletes ready to perform, but not for normal activity. Eat everything in moderation.

I’ll bet you’re in the car more than you are outside or being active. The many errands you run, bringing the children from one activity to the next will leave you in a sitting position feeling stressed and bothered because of those “other” drivers on the road jeopardizing the schedule you must keep. Somewhere in that schedule, set aside an hour to exercise, or even just 30 minutes. The best exercise for most is walking. And no, walking while pushing a grocery cart is not exercise. Aim for a walk around your neighborhood or try a new area. Admire the trees, the lawns, the houses, the hillside or ocean view. Think about a vacation you want to take. Take deep breaths in and out…smile. If you have a pet that can be walked, both of you will benefit. Try to clear your mind from the rest of the day’s chores just for this short time. Make this a habit and you will be happier, calmer and more able to tackle the rest of the day with renewed vigor. If you use a gym, look at the exercise as relaxation and not the drudgery of burning calories.

The above suggestions work any time of the year. It’s the time taken away from the business of the day-to-day that really counts. Come on, you deserve it.

By Bruce Gach, M.D. 

Bruce is the managing partner of Livermore-Pleasanton-San Ramon Pediatrics Group. He is a Board Certified practicing pediatrician with over 30 years of experience caring for children. He has served on numerous committees dealing with child health and development.  www.livermorepleasantonpeds.com