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The holidays are a time of celebration, spirit…and stress. Even the merriest among us might need a reminder to take care of ourselves. So in the spirit of planning ahead and planning for wellness, how about a smarter perspective this year?
Rather than vowing to “get back on track” after the New Year, add wellness to this year’s to-do list. It’s easy! Prioritizing health means managing stress, boosting the immune system, eating well, preparing for unexpected sick days and adopting small but significant healthy habits (like washing hands).
Here are five simple strategies for making wellness a priority this season.
1. Take care of yourself while caring for others. Schedule some early-season spa-based gift swaps (make appointments or indulge at home). 100% essential oil gifts for all! Lavender, chamomile and bergamot are known for their calming effects. Homemade Lavender Bath Salts are a great gift, but be sure to make enough for you, too.
2. Make time for stress management. Whether it’s a walk, yoga or other exercise, reading, rest or play, add it to your calendar. Chronic stress can lead to slower immune system responses, impaired cognitive function, digestion problems, lack of appetite control and sleep difficulties. Any of these can put a damper on holiday festivities and your general wellbeing. Here are a few more suggestions to help you relax.
Check out Rescue Remedy, a mixture of Bach flower essences (drops, lotion, spray, pastilles) that work to provide natural stress relief.
Get enough of the “anti-stress” mineral, magnesium, found in nuts, seeds, whole grains and leafy greens. Known to help promote relaxation, it’s important for nervous system function and for stress management.
My favorite tip? Breathe. Focusing on slow, deep breathing is one of the simplest ways to calm our body. Feel the benefits in just 5 minutes!
3. Eat well. Holiday parties (and shopping malls) certainly aren’t known for their “healthy eating” options. But you can still make good choices anywhere. Here are some helpful ideas:
- Eat before the outing.
- Choose low glycemic index foods with lots of fiber.
- Stress can also cause inflammation in the body, so you’ll need more omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish, flaxseed, hemp seed and walnuts.
- Have whole foods and healthy snacks handy.
- Enjoy the celebration, but remind yourself of the powerful (if not festive) word “moderation.”
4. Give your immune system a boost. When you need a little extra help staying well, try these tips.
Get a boost from immune-supportive supplement formulas, which are well-researched combinations of herbs, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Get more antioxidants. The body’s levels of free radicals are higher under stress. Free radicals are damaging, and antioxidants are needed to neutralize them. Eat more beans, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and spices.
Consider vitamin C, an antioxidant that is quickly depleted when the body is under stress. Among many functions, it supports the adrenal glands, immune system and a healthy inflammatory response.
5. Prepare for unexpected sick days. Everyone needs R&R sometimes, notably during the holidays. When you start to feel run down, give your body a break and keep these.natural remedies at the ready:
Elderberry. Revered for centuries as a traditional medicine, the extract of this fruit provides antioxidant and immune support from quercetin and other flavonoids.
Echinacea. Studies have shown that this herb can be effective for supporting immune health.
Neti pots or nasal flushes. With warm slightly-salted purified water, these devices can help bring relief to congestion and sinus pressure.
Indeed, ‘tis the season to appreciate others, but include self care on your list too. Let us know your favorite ways to take care of yourself during this time of year, and have a healthy and happy holiday season.
The Big Meal is a great opportunity to break out of your wine-buying routine and take a look at tasty and affordable pairings. Luckily, traditional roast turkey welcomes a broad palette of wine styles and flavors, with one rule of thumb: avoid big, meaty tannic wines, like Cabernets or Chiantis. (They can overpower, so save them for a charcuterie plate or slow sipping by the fire). Instead, for Reds, seek out unabashed juiciness, pronounced fruit and a soft round finish. With Whites, you want well-balanced acidity and flavors ranging from crisp and dry to delicately sweet to floral. Here are some of my favorites this season.
Just the thought of Georges DuBoeuf Nouveau Beaujolais 2013 gets me in a merry mood! Bursting with fresh red berries and a youthful brightness, this early harvest Red is my number one pick for your Thanksgiving meal. Soft fruits and a clean finish cozy up nicely to turkey, and there is just enough structure and body to perfectly complement sweet potatoes, green beans and vinaigrette tossed salads. The timing is perfect too. By French law, this celebratory Red can be released no earlier than the 3rd Thursday in November. Grab a few bottles — it’s a Thanksgiving natural!
The black cherries and floral notes in Allan Scott’s Marlborough Pinot Noir gracefully support and enhance crisply roasted turkey and spicy savory sweet sides. The smooth velvet finish of this New Zealand Red makes it a holiday meal favorite.
Another Red that fits comfortably on your holiday table is Tablao Navarra from Spain. Juicy and ripe, it brings a little more oomph than some lighter Reds, but pronounced cherry and raspberry notes and a sublime lingering finish add complexity and a touch of the exotic to your gathering.
A trend that I fervently subscribe to has been taking hold during the past few years: pairing sparkling wines with the holiday meal. With forward aromas of apple and pear, subtly dry, briskly effervescent Spain’s Roger d’Anoia Cava pairs well with anything. And nothing says “Celebrate!” like bubbly.
A well-suited White from Greece, Skouras Anássa, blends brisk notes of apricot and orange with a clean crisp finish. Fruity enough to make its presence known, subtly supportive of the flavors on your table, this approachable white wine adds an out-of-the-ordinary touch to your meal.
Sauvignon Blanc, known for crisp, enticing minerality and earthy complexity, is always a strong choice for Thanksgiving. Simonnet-Febvre’s Saint-Bris Sauvignon, with its notes of freshly cut herbs and fruit-driven finish is perfect, not just for roasted turkey, but also for roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and strawberry or citrus tossed salads.
Chardonnays can often overdo the buttery, honey tones they are famous for, but Novellum’s Chardonnay hits a pitch-perfect note of honeysuckle and peach, the slightest touch of oak and a sleek lengthy finish. This Chardonnay supports your favorite fall dishes without stealing the show.
Great Rieslings for Thanksgiving should carefully display delicate sweetness with balanced acidity. Grace Lane Yakima Valley Riesling does just that. Fresh green apple and delicate peach flavors add clarity to Thanksgiving flavors and create a lovely counterpoint to the warm savory dishes on your dinner table.
The experts in our wine departments love talking wine pairings—just ask! If you already know the wines you want, you can reserve them here.
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving wines? Leave a comment below.