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How To Maintain Optimal Physical, Emotional & Spiritual Health During The Holidays

By November 23, 2014January 18th, 202417 Comments

Prepare thyself, because ready or not, the holiday season is indeed upon us.

For most, this is that special time of year when — whether by conscious choice or simply due to external circumstance — we find ourselves overeating, overspending and simply overindulging in anything and everything, all in the name of celebratory merriment. When we’re not charging it on the card or spread paper thin desperately trying to fulfill all the heightened expectations this time of year presents, we find ourselves weathering an unnatural battery of social engagements and the emotionally hyper-charged land mines presented by extended family get togethers.

The result?  A massive and unnatural outpouring of energy that leaves us not just out of balance, but utterly depleted — spit out the other side physically and emotionally exhausted to the core, all too often overweight and riddled with unnecessary debt.

Then what? We awake on New Year’s Day committed to do and be better next time — the annual renewal ritual that inevitably falls short. A slow burn leading up to next November to repeat the cycle.

The standard American approach to the holidays is unhealthy, out of balance, verging on lunacy.

Let’s have a different experience. Let’s relax. Let’s make sure we’re exercising self-care. Let’s focus on the giving part. And let’s not over extend ourselves financially, emotionally or physically so we can emerge in January not just intact but truly enriched — optimistic, feeling great and energized for all the challenges and adventures presented with the birth of a new year.

As we did last November ( RRP 60 ), this week Julie and I once again sit down to hash out all things holiday season with a focus on providing helpful, experience-based strategies to assist in managing the financial pitfalls, dietary challenges, precarious social environments and heightened emotional states presented by this unique time of year. In my experience, these are issues common to us all. And yet issues we go to great lengths to avoid dealing with internally, let alone discussing outwardly — typically out of fear, shame or simply a profound need to keep up appearances — all of which ultimately leaves us feeling alone and isolated in what for many can become a state of true emotional crisis. In truth, the exact opposite of what the holidays should be all about.

So rather than deny or repress, let’s talk about it. Let’s get it all out in the open. And let’s work on a strategy for a better, more positive and uplifting experience. On today’s agenda:

  • How to avoid spending money you don’t have;
  • How to maintain a healthy diet throughout the season;
  • How to experience gift giving with children in a different way;
  • How to navigate and avoid emotional land mines with extended family;
  • How to say “No” to certain social obligations; and
  • How to nurture and preserve your physical, emotional & spiritual well being under pressure.

Many of the topics raised and discussed in this conversation are beautifully and concretely laid out in this very helpful companion piece by Julie entitled “How To Maintain Emotional & Financial Sanity During the Holidays”– well worth checking out.

It’s about self-care people. You simply cannot expect to be able to show up, be your best self and be there for others if you are not first taking care of yourself. This is not selfish — it’s truth. And a crucial huge component of this success equation begins and ends with meditation. To learn more about Julie’s guided program discussed during the episode, click here.

In addition, we also have a few delicious plant-based recipes up on the site – healthy alternatives to the the expected standard fare. Try ’em out, bring one or more to your next gathering and enjoy!

This Week’s Assignment: If your past experiences with the holidays have left you emotionally, physically and or financially depleted, approach this holiday season with a firm belief that you can have a better experience. Place emphasis on self-care first. Make it a top priority to do what you need to each morning to create balance for the remainder of the day — good food, meditation, exercise. Simple, right? In theory yes. But in practice it can be tricky with all the pressures the holidays bring. So put it first, and watch your experience improve — for you and everyone you care for.

Weekly Q&A: Finally, I am considering adding a second show each week (or maybe every other week) in which I engage you — the audience — more directly by answering the specific questions you want answered. So I’m going to run an experiment (a “beta test” for you techies). Send me your thoughts and questions and issues and topics — the things you would like me to address on the show — to [email protected]. I will sift through the queries, pull out a handful and put together an episode in which I address, discuss and answer what you want to hear me talk about. Deal? Deal.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this week’s offering. Happy Thanksgiving!

Peace + Plants,


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  • delightedjim says:


  • Debra Serrins says:

    This was a totally great episode. I love listening to the way that your family interacts and the way that you nuture each member of your family’s special gifts and talents.
    Yes! A Q & A episode would be really interesting and valuable.
    Thank you and happy holidays!

  • ethan says:

    Your a very lucky man Rich. Julie is so lovely.

  • Veronica says:

    thank you! again …. and again. So happy I found you. Yesss I would love the Q&A space!!! can’t wait 🙂 Also looking forward to the cookbook, slowly taking the family to the next level. I need recipes for clean b-day cakes!

  • wendyweather says:

    Would love to hear a Q&A podcast!

  • RileyMania says:

    I fully support the idea of doing a Q & A podcast. I would find huge benefit in that.

    Thank you for your wonderful podcasts. They’re a joy to listen to, and give me massive guidance. I appreciate everything you’ve done.

  • Erik says:

    I think the Q&A is an awesome idea. Very similar to Ask Altucher. don’t always have time for a full podcast. Little bits of Rich Roll are better than none!

  • MALulgjuraj says:

    Thanks for the fantastic recipes!!!! I made the cauliflower mashed potatoes and wild mushroom gravy amongst a few other plant strong dishes and my carnivorous in-laws loved it all! It was fantastic to chow and stay plant strong!

    I absolutely love your podcasts. I am in the midst of transforming my life and your podcast is one of many tools I use to surround myself with positive vibes.

  • marysgold says:

    Hey Rich and Julie – Great podcast! So much goodness to unpack. My emphasis word for 2014 has been ‘contentment’. I think this episode embodies that ideal – finding joy in the holidays not hype and excess. For a long time I’ve hoped that you guys would connect with Bea Johnson of and have her on the podcast. Her family of 4 produces less than 1 quart of trash per year. Amazing example of minimalism and sustainability. Check it out! (she was also in the world of fashion design at one point.)

  • Andrea says:

    I love the idea of a Q&A episode. One question I have is which podcasts you both listen to about self-improvement, mindfulness, spirituality, habits, etc.

  • Tina says:

    Hi Veronica. I bought Ann Esselstyns new cookbook that has a kale cake in it. Made it for my daughters birthday and it came out lovely. Maybe worth trying?

  • Guy says:

    Your podcasts are outstanding; really inspiring while exercising! Q&A idea sounds great. Personally, I’d love to unpick the truth behind the pros/ cons of coffee; it’s the one thing I yo-yo with.

    Also really looking forward to your cookbook- for us Europeans, please, please also include metric measures if you can- thank you so much for your great work.

  • Jen says:

    Great podcast–thanks! When talking about your daughter wanting to decorate for Christmas, I kept thinking about Colonial Williamsburg decorations–have you ever seen them? Made of fruits and veggies, and other natural materials–all super beautiful, creative, handmade, festive and yet can be composted at the end of the season. Might be something to look at!

  • Christine says:

    Great episode!
    I heard something new this year, and we are using it for the kids.
    They each get 4 gifts:
    Something you want
    Something you need
    Something to wear
    and Something to read…
    Of course, what they want can be pricey, but all in all, I love this rule 🙂
    And, YES! Do the Q & A and, make more videos… <3

  • Richard says:

    There’s a reassuring continuity that is maintained when we drag out the old plastic tree each Christmas and decorate it with the same old decorations – some I made 30 years ago as a child. We’re not religious or avid consumers during the Christmas period. When the decorations go up the whole mood / vibe of the house changes – everybody seems happier. Maybe it’s just having something bright and positive in the house during the darkest period of the year? Nobody really speaks about it, but we all feel it. I’m going to miss that this year because I’ll be away in France working on a house I’m renovating.

    I like the Q&A idea.

  • Dominique says:

    Definitely get Bea Johnson on the podcast and get her book Zero Waste Home! I first discovered her when she was featured in a cool book called Garbology. I live by her book!

  • kayleen says:

    Weekly Q&A – YES!!! Just listened to episode #114! OMG why didn’t I listen to that BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS!!! 🙁 Ugh I was so unbalanced the whole month of Dec. with my mother in town, work stress, and dealing with seeing relatives I don’t care too much for. I’ve got all the podcasts loaded up and have a lot of catching up to do. I might even email in a few questions for the Weekly Q&A 🙂 You guys are awesome! Happy New Year!

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