Shore up energy and immunity reserves for this hectic time of year with our top strategies to save time, stay healthy, and maintain a positive outlook—including what to eat, best supplements to have on hand, and quick ways to brighten mood, all in 10 minutes or less.
With so many deadlines and so much to accomplish between now and Jan. 1, I’m shoring up my energy reserves with favorite strategies to save time, stay healthy, and maintain a positive outlook—and keep everyone in my family happy and healthy.
Here are eight simple ways I plan to boost my adaptability and, if not sail through, at least get through the next six weeks with a bit of grace. I won’t tell you to keep exercising or take your multi, because you already do that, right? And even if time gets tight and you don’t get to the gym, you can fall back on these strategies, all of which take almost no time at all; most take less than a minute, others a mere 10.
- Hard-boiled eggs. These little nutritional powerhouses contain about 6 grams of blood sugar–stabilizing protein each, plus B vitamins and choline to support mood and brain health. Plus, they are about the most versatile and portable food you can imagine. Make a big batch on weekends and use throughout the week for: Snacks or kids’ lunches (plain, with a little salt and pepper). Egg salad sandwiches (roughly mash 4 eggs with 2 tablespoons or more greek yogurt; add 2 teaspoons dried dill weed and salt and pepper, to taste; yum!). Protein add-in for one-dish meals such as soups or roasted vegetables (slice or crumble on top).
- Yin Chiao formula. Germs, germs, germs are all over the office, in stores, swirling around the airport … everywhere. The classic Chinese herbal formula Yin Chiao protects you when you’re exposed to illnesses and helps your body fight invaders off when you do get sick. I keep one bottle at home and one in my desk. Take it daily about a week before travel to boost immunity, or take several times a day when you feel you’re catching a bug.
- Hand cream. I think I may be developing a bit of an addiction lately. Nice-smelling hand cream used at the right moment has a lot to offer a tired body and mind! I like lavender hand and body lotion, but anything with essential oils that smell good to you can work wonders to perk you up, lift you out of a work slump, or momentarily erase worries—all while soothing dry hands.
- Fresh ginger. Don’t go with dried, go with fresh! It is truly a must at this time of year. As a stir-fry or soup spice, it’s fantastic, but I’ve lately gotten into the habit of thinly slicing pieces of the root directly into my hot tea (plain black Ceylon or Darjeeling, or green varieties sometimes, too) every morning. I started doing this when I was fighting a cold that my son passed to me, and I’m thrilled to say the cold resolved in about three days with just the bare minimum headache and sniffles. I plan to keep drinking it because it’s so warming and it’s a good digestive boost.
- Meditation. If you already have a mindfulness practice, skip to the next tip. Everyone else, listen up: Sitting still is powerful, and it isn’t just for Buddhists! Even if I’m barely awake, holding to my daily meditation practice bolsters my ability to stay calm in chaotic situations (such as having to say no to my son again when he asks for junk food for the 1,001st time!). Because mindfulness and meditation practice sound simple but often aren’t, I subscribe to the Just One Thing newsletter by Rick Hanson, PhD, researcher and author of Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time (New Harbinger, 2011). I also keep a well-worn copy of Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are (Shambhala, 1994) by my bedside.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for mental well-being and healthy immune function. Although we live and work in one of the sunniest places in the U.S. and make an effort to get outside often, even in colder months, the reality is that I am fair skinned and, sadly, less active in the winter.
- Multivitamin and herbal pick-me-ups. So you’re hitting a wall at 1:30 p.m. after the morning’s caffeine has worn off? Resist the urge to head out for another latte, which will just rev you up and let you down, possibly causing or exacerbating adrenal fatigue. (Do get fresh air, which has an instant energizing effect!) If you find yourself craving an energizing drink, try quick vitamin and herb boosts. I also keep a stash of vitamin C drink powders in my desk and purse.
- Lentil soup. Red, green, French … any lentils you have on hand can be the base for an easy, protein-rich soup that makes great leftovers for the days you need to power through lunch. Plus, any nutrient-dense vegetable you have on hand (sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, beets, chard, cabbage) can be added for extra nutritional punch. Throw in some chopped onions, crushed garlic, and ginger or turmeric for extra immune support. You don’t really need a recipe to make a great lentil soup, but try this Red Lentil Soup with Chard if you’re looking for a place to start.