Self-Care for a Successful Holiday Season

By Elizabeth Leeds, DPT, FAFS
The hustle and bustle of the holidays is here. Each year brings a lesson in patience and planning for a successful holiday season. What does a successful holiday season mean? In my world, it is one where I maintain my physical and mental well-being. The irony of the holidays is we are often so busy shopping and socializing for others, that we forget the simplest and biggest gift to oneself... self-care.

Sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise can easily become derailed. We tell ourselves, oh next week or tomorrow I will be better, but then another curveball comes our way and tomorrow turns slowly into days and weeks.

The first step is recognizing your curveballs, and the next step is to plan for them.

In other words, my kids are my biggest curveballs. Difficult day at school, extra homework, birthday parties, nightmares, you name it, can easily sidetrack my best intentions. It has taken me awhile to accept that I cannot avoid them, but I can strategize better to take them in stride. Below I share with you some of my strategies.


Let yourself be okay with a grueling day filled with unexpected to-dos. Note: this is not saying excuse yourself, but give yourself permission to have that comfort food, skip a workout, or binge watch a few shows. Let go of any judgement. However, you still need to plan how to regroup.


I will never forget when sitting in my neuroanatomy class and my professor being very irritated at our class, saying we all had inferior performance. She heard the excuses that other classes were also giving us assignments and testing, and she looked at us and said you all represent the 7 P's: Poor Prior Planning Promotes Pi** Poor Performance. If we choose not to plan our studying and manage our time, we will not survive PT school. The motto struck home for me, and I have applied this to my life. Look at your month and week ahead, and plan. Yes, plan workouts, meals, down time, socializing and reconnecting time with family and friends, and sleep. It does not have to be super detailed, instead gain a general overview. For instance, some mornings there are school meetings, and workouts might need to be shorter or broken into two. Some evenings, there may be parties or longer work hours, so meal prepping or having an already prepared meal from the store can help keep you on track.


Have an endurance, strength, and restorative routine to match your time demands. For example, a quick cardio workout I use is what I call the power of 5:

5 minutes of warm up
5 rounds of 20 seconds of cardio + 40 seconds of rest
5 rounds of 30 seconds of cardio + 30 seconds of rest
5 rounds of 40 seconds of cardio + 20 seconds of rest
5 minutes of cool down for total time 25 minutes

You can skip 1-2 intervals if you need less time, or repeat some intervals if you have more time. Strength and balance routine can be a simple stepping forward and backward, side to side and progress this to a lunge, hop, to even standing on one leg reaching with the other leg forward/backward, side to side. A restorative routine can be a set number of stretching exercises, or focusing on one stretch and incorporating it into your day. Hold the stretch for 3-5 slow long breaths. If you can repeat 3-5 times, great, otherwise get at least one rep in 1-5 times a day. Remember to breathe slowly and calmly allow the breath to move into the sides and back of the ribcage.


Meal prep is key. First prep is producing a list of a few meal ideas from pantry or freezer items. If you have time, prep your meals for the week. Next, can you prep any of the food ahead of time? If so, whenever you have a few extra minutes, harness that time and prep away. I am often made fun of in my house for prepping at random points in the day. I have been known to cook a dinner in the morning, so reheating in the evening is easy. Even my lunches or shakes are prepped in advance when I'm able. The easiness of making a shake is great, but sometimes, my time is too limited in the morning to get the shake made. So, I now have back up premade shakes from the store, and I'm trying to get in the habit of making a shake the night before and freezing it. Those extra minutes in the morning might then go to a workout, meal prep for dinner, or sleep.


Plan for sleep? YES! This does not mean plan to make up missed sleep, rather, plan to get a good night's sleep as consistently as possible. Studies show that eight hours is needed for the body to rejuvenate, for blood sugars to normalize, for good antibody production, and for oneself to be less emotionally volatile/reactive. Create a sleep routine that will help train your body and brain to get to sleep faster. Recognize triggers that awaken you. Are you drinking too much before bed and having to urinate during the night? Are you too hot or cold? Are you stressing over something? Personally, I drink a nighttime tea early on, and prior to bed I read a book. The side-to-side movement of the eyes calms the nervous system, and the book allows my brain to be occupied with something other than stressful thoughts. I try to prep my mornings, like I mentioned above with my shakes, to give myself a little extra time to sleep in on nights I get to bed later, or I do not feel well. Just note: you cannot make up lost sleep. I know we like to think we can, but we cannot. A great read, or listen, is Matthew Walker's Why Sleep Matters.


Sometimes the irony of the holidays is that we can be busy socializing at events, but we fail to really connect with our friends. The holidays can be a lonely time of year despite being surrounded by people. To offset this, counseling and making dates with friend/family are key. Dates can be a meal and drinks, wrapping presents or writing Christmas cards together, working out, etc. And if a physical connection is not available, then be available to call a friend/family. My commute times are often used to reach out to family and friends.

To prevent being overwhelmed, gradually incorporate the tips. Some may be easier for you than others. Let go of perfection. Trying to be perfect and incorporating everything can sometimes set you up for failure. Be good and kind to yourself this holiday season and remember to practice the gift of grace.
November is Bladder Awareness Month, and we're ready to discuss all your bladder-related questions! Ever heard of Stress Urinary Incontinence 😓 It doesn't mean you leak when you're stressed out... 😫 Rather, you leak when there is a downward pressure ⬇ (stress) on your bladder.

Actions like coughing, sneezing, or certain exercises that involve running and jumping, can contribute to stress incontinence. Although nearly half of females experience leakage during exercise, it is not normal. 🙅‍♀️

Data shows that many of these females choose to quit their activities rather than seek out a provider who can help them overcome the issue. By addressing pelvic floor strength, range of motion or relaxation, coordination and reaction time, the pelvic floor can better support the bladder and stop leakage (it's more than just Kegels!).

A full evaluation from a pelvic floor PT/OT is necessary to find the root cause. We're here to help you get back to the things you love doing, without leaking. Don't settle for a life of leakage. Call us today - 858-457-8419 📞
November 2021: Step, Lunge, Balance & Reach
This series of exercises promotes balance, coordination and lower body strength as you step, lunge, balance and reach forward, backward, to the side and across your body.
A Balance and Reach exercise is exactly as it sounds; balance on one leg, while reaching your other leg in a different direction. Focus on breathing and stabilizing your legs and body as you move from one position to the next, slowly and steadily.

1. Start in a Neutral Stance

2. Step Back / Step Forward

3. Lunge Back / Lunge Forward

4. Balance and Reach Back / Balance and Reach Forward

5. Step to the Side / Step to the Other Side 

6. Lunge to the Side / Lunge to the Other Side 

7. Balance and Reach to the Side /  Balance and Reach to the Other Side

8. Step Cross Behind /  Step Cross Behind on the Other Side 

9. Cross Behind and Lunge /  Cross Behind and Lunge on the Other Side 

10. Balance and Reach Behind /  Balance and Reach Behind on the Other Side 
Starting November 15th, Amazon will begin mislabeling pelvic floor wands and kegel weights as "adult products" or "sex toys". 🙄 This decision will have a massive impact on consumers' ability to access safe FDA-cleared pelvic health solutions.

Pelvic floor conditions touch 1 in 3 people at some point in their lifetime.

As pelvic health therapists, we have seen dilators and weights inspire hope, create new beginnings and restore lives. 🙏 Everyone deserves the right to safely and conveniently locate medical devices without unnecessary exposure to sexually explicit products.

Pelvic health has been a taboo topic for far too long. We cannot allow Amazon to silence us now. 🙅‍♀️ We're fighting for new parents trying to recover from childbirth. We're fighting for cancer survivors hoping to recover their pelvic health. We're fighting for sexual assault victims working through their trauma. We won't stop fighting for them.

We need your help to reverse Amazon's decision, and we hope you'll join us in this fight. / (858) 457-8419 / Open Monday-Friday 7am-7pm