Holiday SOS: 10 Tips for Boosting Health & Managing Seasonal Stress
Gathering for huge family meals, office parties, and other fa-la-la fun can be both the most wonderful, and the most stressful time of the year. Take heart in the fact that you are not alone, and there are some ways you can manage the stress of the season, so you'll feel like jingle bell-ing with the best of them!
Identify ONE goal you’d like to focus on- FOR YOURSELF- from now until the end of the year. This can be an exercising 3 times/week, including veggies at every meal, meditating 5 minutes per day, planning a family vacation, or anything that lights your fire, as long as it is meaningful and achievable, and will allow you to roll into the new year feeling a sense of accomplishment, rather than the need to dig out of a hole with some lofty resolutions. Bonus: Write it down, tell everyone you know you’re doing it, put it on sticky notes in your car, bathroom, workspace...you get the picture...keep it visible & COMMIT.
Have a rock solid plan. Identify your non-negotiables, THEN decide what you will be flexible with. Be honest about what you are NOT willing to give up this holiday season, then be equally as open to some things you ARE willing to do to help find balance. So, if Aunt Susie’s stuffing MUST be on your plate, and you’re also the life of the holiday work party, then maybe you can choose to ditch the daily grande super sugar latte for a while, or skip the fast food lunch and bring your own healthy meal from home for a few weeks? Or, are your weekends for Hallmark Holiday movie marathons on the couch? Then maybe you can decide to add an extra weekday workout sesh or early morning walk to your holiday routine!! Do, eat, drink, something that makes the holidays as fun and festive as they are supposed to be, but also be an adult and realize how you can balance out these indulgences with healthy habits too.
Be kind to yourself. You are not a bad person if you eat or drink too much. You are HUMAN. The deal is you have to own your decisions, know that while you can not go back and change them, you can 100% move forward in a positive direction with your next day, meal, or decision! Always look forward, don’t fret about what’s already done!
Crush the basics. This is NOT the time of year to skimp on sleep, hydration, nutrition or self care. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep, drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day, have a healthy does of lean protein, veggies, quality carbs (think whole grains, fruit, or starchy veggies) at each meal, with moderate amounts of healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.) We don’t automagically acquire elf-like super powers November- December. Take care of yourself so you can look and feel your best!
Avoid the temptation to crash diet or heavily restrict food in the hopes of shedding a few pounds before a holiday party. This will only increase your stress, decrease your energy, risk dehydration, and set yourself up to potentially gain back more weight than you lost in the long run. Instead, commit to adding a few simple healthy habits to your daily routine that can help you build some healthy momentum heading into the new year.
Stick to your routines as closely as possible. Avoid making any wild changes to your exercise, sleep, or eating patterns leading up to and right after a holiday. The holiDAY itself my not fit your typical routine- but if you’ve got healthy habits pre and post celebration, than one day typically should not break the bank!
Listen to your body! Are you feeling run down? Moody? Tossing and turning all night? Starving, or have no appetite at all? These are all signals that your body needs a little TLC. Take time to re-charge. Devote at least 15 minutes a day to a self care ritual that you enjoy- reading, walking, stretching, listening to music, or sitting in quiet...whatever works best for you- do more of it!
Embrace your decisions and adopt a zero apologies mantra! Even the most well intentioned friends or family members can lay the guilt trips on THICK when they’re not on board with your healthy eating plan, or that job you started (or quit)! If you suspect “tense” conversations may pop up at the dinner table, put yourself on the offensive, and practice ahead of time how you can objectively, but assertively stick to your guns and feel good about it. Something like “I’ve really found something that allows me feel like I’m finally living my best life. I hope that everyone can find the same satisfaction.” Boom. Bring on dessert!
Ask for help if you need it, or lend a hand when someone else does! If you are struggling with holiday prep, to-do lists, or staying on budget- ask someone who’s got it together in that area for some tips! On the flip side, sometimes the best way to take our mind off of our problems is to turn the focus to someone else. Lend a hand this season to a group or person in need...whether it’s a contribution of time, money, or talents- we all have something we can give- and it’s cliche, but so true, what we get back in return is so much more valuable!
There is no such thing as a perfect holiday. The noise, chaos, mess, and occasional silence can all stir up a mixed bag of emotions this time of year. Reflection and prioritizing gratitude, giving, balance, and consistency will help to keep you grounded and appreciative of the true purpose of the season!