I’m not someone who believes in hyperbole when it comes to the internet and blogging. You won’t find many exaggerated headlines here like “how to have clear, perfect skin in 5 easy steps.” Not only is that not personalized and/or possible, it creates a culture of comparison and negative self-talk when those things inevitably don’t work. But I do think there are some things to do to during busy seasons (cough, cough the holidays/new year) to cultivate a practice of self-compassion and gratitude. So that you’re feeling your absolute best, and are focused on glowing internally rather than physically. And that glow and cheer gets transmitted to loved ones around you.
The holidays / end of the year in general tends to be a time of increased stressors, which is ironic because I firmly believe the essence of a holiday is joy. The stress, though, gets noisy – be that stress of family, preparing food, or even eating food. So what is there to do?
I know this sounds far overly simplistic, but you could start by smiling. (insert Elf quote here about smiling being my favorite)
In fact one study showed that just by having a positive mood, individuals were able to pay attention with more detail ( 1 ). And more attention to detail means more lasting, joyful memories. Another study found that after participants were told a story with positive themes, some were asked to hold a pen in their teeth, thereby mimicking smiling. Those who did this remembered the story more fondly than those who simply held the pen in their lips (the control for not smiling) ( 2 ). So if a relative tells a story that you find entirely unamusing, maybe just smile and see if that changes your perspective? I think this is hysterical. Or maybe I just think that because I read the study while smiling? Tbd.
So in addition to smiling, there are many other things to do, starting by carving out some time just for you. Maybe turn the tv off a half hour early and put on a face mask with a good book (I’m currently reading the Nightingale and LOVING it). I’m also very fond of mixing just a little honey and turmeric for a home-made face mask. I use 2 tbsp Aunt Sue’s honey and mix with some turmeric for a brightening and exfoliating mask! (beware: make sure to make while wearing a bib of sorts to avoid staining from turmeric.) It’s so simple to make, quick to throw together, and just 10 minutes with it on will have you feeling back to baseline. You could even make it for a loved one as an affordable homemade gift idea!
Turmeric honey face mask:
- 2 tbsp Aunt Sue’s honey
- 1 tsp turmeric
You could also try out some 4-7-8 breathing to immediately take you from sympathetic overdrive (fight, flight, or freeze) to parasympathetic bliss (rest and digest.) Simply inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and exhale for 8. This kind of breathing is so effective in fact, that researchers found it actually decreased subjective pain scale for women in labor – how cool is that?! ( 3 )
In between the holiday treats, focus on low-sugar, low refined/processed carbohydrate and anti-inflammatory foods. Spikes in blood sugar can sometimes mimic the feelings of anxiety and/or panic, so it’s best to try, try, try to keep the blood sugar stable when possible. I like to bring a big salad to holiday gatherings to serve as a base, served with the creamiest, most delightful with just a touch of sweet, tahini honey mustard dressing. I use this as both a salad dressing, a vegetable dip, and a marinade for roasting vegetables. It’s just so versatile with only a few simple ingredients! And then I’ll dip into the desserts afterwards, also sweetened with Aunt Sue’s pure, premium, U.S. Grade A honey (yes, produced in the USA!).
Tahini honey mustard
- 1 tbsp Aunt Sue’s honey
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp stone ground mustard
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1-2 tbsp warm water, to thin
And if all else fails, grab a cup of tea with a dab of honey and munch on a decadent peanut butter cookie reading your favorite book or listening to your favorite podcast.
Peanut butter honey cookies:
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 2 tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
It’s clear I utilize honey in many different ways around the holidays – in a homemade face mask, as a creamy dressing for vegetables, and as a hint of sweetness in desserts. All thanks to the mighty bee. I am truly so grateful for bees. I’ve heard one out of every three bites we eat depends on bee pollination and honeybees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food! Truly astounding.
Thank you Aunt Sue’s for sponsoring this post. Your produce induces many smiles, which in and of itself motivated me to look up the research behind smiling. It’s an honor to work with brands I know and love, and to integrate the product into some pretty sweet research.