‘Tis the season to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones – and to celebrate, indulge, and be merry.
But, the holiday cheer can also invite quite a setback in your mind-body health goals and wellness routine. To avoid the stress and weight gain of the season – and remain light in your mind and body – follow my guide to indulge, without losing your healthy edge.
Let me show you how to:
- EAT healthy and in moderation.
- MOVE your body, stretch, and get your heart rate up.
- DE-STRESS and balance your emotions during the busy chaos of the holidays.
How do you enjoy the holiday season without falling into the trap of weight gain, sugar crashes, and poor choices? Sticking to a healthy plan is important. However, depriving yourself of certain foods can have negative results. Restrictive eating can lead to binge eating as well as disliking healthy foods by associating them with something you ‘have’ to do. When it’s time to pile food on your plate, eat what you know you love, guilt free, but keep this advice in mind:
- If smaller plates are an option, use them. You’ll fill larger plates just because room is available. Second trips are better than overeating on the first round.
- If you’re trying something new, only take a bite-size portion.
- Eat a snack before you arrive so you aren’t at the onset of the feast.
- You fall in love with your Aunt’s new dessert and even though you’re too full to enjoy it, you’re tempted to have a second portion. Instead of grabbing the last bite in fear of not eating it again until next year, ask her to email the recipe out to the whole family for those who can’t wait another year.
Maintain an Exercise Plan
Holiday gatherings often consist of sitting, eating, talking, drinking, and more eating. We often find ourselves sitting for longer periods of time because we enjoy the conversation. Your legs want to move, the food is on the counter, and off you go for food you’re not even hungry for.
This year, try some of these actions with the family to reduce the march to the kitchen:
- Go for a 5-10 minute walk after each meal to aid digestion. Increase that walk to 15 minutes after every meal to help lower blood sugar levels, especially after eating holiday sweets. You may be surprised at those who will join you for your walk!
- Run/walk the stairs in your home.
- Organize a family yoga session, check out YouTube sessions’.
- Go for a family hike.
- Bring a board game to the family feast. Although you’re still sitting, this can provide some excitement and victory movement. Plus, it’ better than just eating.
- Shovel snow
- Ice skate
- Make snow angels
- Dance to Christmas music
- Walk the neighborhood or mall to see the holiday decorations.
Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season. Stress might join you while cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house in preparation for a party, or shopping at a crowded mall. It can manifest as aches and pains, prevent you from sleeping through the night, and dampen your spirits during the holidays. You can beat back stress, and the inevitable fatigue it causes on your body.
Focus on the Positive – bring your attention to the experiences you most enjoy about the holidays. Try going into each holiday gathering or interaction with a positive and loving intention. It’s easier to maintain a positive attitude when you arrive in that mental state.
Spend Time Outdoors in Nature – spending time outdoors in nature can help enhance mental clarity, energize your mind and body, and connect you to your loved ones as well as the environment.
Let Go of the Past – pretend you are a newcomer to your own family. Approach them with curiosity and excitement. Forget past transgressions, arguments, tears. You are not condoning past wrongs by letting them go; you are just saying they cannot hurt you anymore.
Take Time for Yourself – the holidays can be a time when we put everyone else’s needs first. It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos of the season. Take some time to reflect on what practices you do to keep you balanced and peaceful throughout the year and make sure to adhere to them when things get crazy.
Stay in the Present – what is the best gift you could give to yourself and others at your holiday gathering? Being present. Cultivate appreciation for your friends and family in your life at the moment.
Hold realistic Expectations – if you become frustrated that the holidays aren’t going according to plan, remember there is no such thing as a perfect family or perfect holiday. What can you learn and how can you grow from your family?
Maintain Your Routine – as much as possible, maintain your typical sleeping, eating, and exercise schedules. Your vitality can be weakened by changes in routine, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or irritation.
Make Clear Requests – your friends and family won’t know what’s important to you unless you voice it. Clearly stating your needs can help to reduce holiday stress and develop closer family ties.
Practice Gratitude – gratitude is a powerful force that you can use to expand your happiness, improve your health, and – you guessed it – help you cope with stress. Organize a time when your family sits down to share what they love about the holidays, or about individual members of the family.
Say Cheese – no one can deny the mind-body connection. So, it you’re looking for a way out of stress, you’ll need to smile more. Organize a family photo shoot or make sure to have your camera on-hand when everyone first arrives to the holiday meal, gathering, or party. Capture those first hugs, ask for the best grins, and snap all those treasured moments. You can revisit them mid-year to remember how great the holidays can actually be.
Make Restful Sleep a Priority – good quality rest is one of the pillars of healthy living. In rhythm with the sun going down and birds flocking to their nests, we should also go to sleep early, ideally before 10pm. If you are a late riser, try shifting your bedtime closer to 10pm by 15 minutes per night. This will give you the time to enjoy nature’s early morning calm, ever-more important during the stressful holiday season.
The Secret to making your holiday inspiring is actually quite simple. Be inspiring yourself. As with any change, you must be the change you want to see in others.
All of us at ELM Mental Wellness wish you and your family a Safe, Happy, Inspiring Holiday Season!