Inspiration Giving the Gift of Your Best Self The holiday season is a time for cookie baking, family bonding, company parties, and an endless search for… By Cameron Cler The holiday season is a time for cookie baking, family bonding, company parties, and an endless search for the perfect white elephant gift. All of the fun activities seem to come at once and my calendar tends to fill up faster than any other time of year. With this heightened sense of holiday spirit often comes the pitfall of late nights, less sleep, and a forgotten focus on normal wellness routines. While you spend hours cooking for your families or hitting the sales at your favorite stores, it is important to remember to take time for personal health and wellness. Sometimes the best gift you can give your friends, family and coworkers is the gift of your best self. Keeping focused on a few key areas during the holidays can ensure you spread the holiday spirit without burning out as you come into the new year. Nutrition Nothing beats a toasty cup of hot cocoa at a tree lighting ceremony or after an ice skating adventure. So many of our holiday traditions focus on treats that are not typically part of our normal diet. Whether you are making gingerbread houses or baking for a holiday meal, aim to maintain a balanced diet without being too hard on yourself when you indulge. There is a reason so many new years resolutions include new diet regimens. Many of us use the holidays as an excuse to eat and drink more excessively, which when combined with less sleep and more physical activity, can lead to a weakened immune system. Head into the holiday season with you best foot forward to avoid being down for the count during this fun-filled month. Exercise The winter months can keep the most dedicated people out of the gym with the promise of a cozy fire at home or a hot toddy at the bar. Use excuses such as cutting down a Christmas tree, walking door-to-door for carolling, or volunteering at a food bank to get on your feet and stay active. If you live in a cold climate, seek out hot yoga studios or heated indoor pools to maintain your normal fitness routines. Exercise is an important release for some of the stresses that can be heightened during the holidays. Our to-do lists may seem endless at this time of year, but finding a time to be active should make its way to the top of the list. Gratitude Remembering what the holidays are all about helps mentally ground you even when everything else at work and home seems frenetic. Take a moment each day to think about what you are grateful for. As you think about family members, personal achievements, and other good tidings, also think about how you can share this spirit of gratitude with others. Realizing how much you have and giving some of that back to those in need is one of the most rewarding things we can do. During the holidays there are a multitude of opportunities to volunteer, donate to charity, or give gifts to an adopted family. By focusing on how much you have to be grateful for, you are reminded that while it is nice to receive gifts, the act of giving can be so rewarding and meaningful for those who are less fortunate. As you set forth with all of the holiday plans, taking care of yourself is paramount. While the season is focused on gifts and giving, you can not fully give to others if you have not first taken care of yourself. Plan ahead to cook meals at home, fit in some time to exercise, and ground in a daily meditation or gratitude list. With a mindful approach to your holiday activities you will be prepared to sustain your jolly spirit though the holidays and into the new year. — Cameron Cler is traveler at heart, obsessed with seeing the world and discovering ways to contribute to positive global change. As a registered yoga teacher, she balances her constant travel and work in the startup world by channeling her inner yogi and welcoming peace in chaotic moments. Her passion is cultivating creativity and inspiration while sharing travel stories, yoga classes, wellness tips, and smiles with her friends, family, and students.