When the holidays roll around each year, are you like me in feeling an equal amount of stress and excitement, burden and joy? With all the preparations—decorating, gift wrapping, cooking, and worst of all, traveling—the holidays can quickly add stress and anxiety to our already-busy lives. The key to staying happy throughout the season is to stay healthy.
First things first, enjoy yourself. Restricting everything you put in your mouth can make you as unhappy (and unhealthy) as over-indulging. Strike a balance. Allow yourself certain treats, because it is the time of the year to celebrate, but also remember, celebration is not just about drinking the egg nog or devouring the pecan pie. Celebration over the holidays also means filling yourself in bigger ways like with the love of friends and family. Celebration also means honoring the good choices you’ve made this year and setting new goals for next year.
And remember, temptations will be everywhere during the holidays, so set yourself up for success. Here a few tips you can try to keep your holiday season happy and healthy.
- Make a Plan
Tell yourself what you will and won’t do. Set goals before holiday parties. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you get off track. This creates the mindset for the, “I already gave in, might as well just keep giving in” thinking, which will set you back much further. Instead, just get right back on track. Continue to look at your list of goals throughout the season, and they will be on your mind as you say no to the second brownie or glass of wine.
- Allow Yourself Certain Treats
Don’t over do it or you’ll regret it later, but allow yourself small treats. Indulging a little is perfectly normal, and can give you the release of serotonin to reduce stress and keep you happy.
- Count Your Blessings
Remind yourself your life is filled with abundant love. You don’t need to overeat.
- Eat Consciously with Your Full Attention
Don’t eat mindlessly. Put food on your plate instead of snacking at the buffet table. Sit down and enjoy your food. Pay attention to your body. Stop when you are full. You are NOT a garbage can. You do not need to eat the last cheese squares to save them from being thrown away.
- Wake Up Early and Exercise
Be it walking, doing light yoga, or your normal crushing fitness regime, do it early. Get the fitness out of the way so your whole day can be spent with family. Plus, if you only do a little over the holidays, you’ll cut calories along the way and won’t start the New Year with a deficit. And if you don’t have much time, try some short, high-intensity workouts like these.
- Think of the New Year
So much of the holidays is about celebrating the past year, but keep the new year in mind. You’ll wish you had been more regimented and strong-willed come January 1st. So get a head-start and kick off your new year with strength.
- Remember: Drinks Count Too
Alcohol packs the calories, especially when combined with sugary sodas. Plus, you are more likely to over eat and indulge after a few drinks. Stick to red wine and have only a glass or two. Avoid the egg nog. Drink plenty of water before and after any amount of alcohol. And as always, drink responsibly.
- Bring a Healthy Dish
Going to a work party or a big family affair? Bring a healthy dish you love, so you know there will be something at the party for you. Others will appreciate this, too.
- Play Games
Tag football, hide and seek with the kids, even charades all get us off our feet and moving. But don’t stop there. Have a snowball fight, go ice skating or skiing, build a snowman, or if you’re lucky, swim at the beach. Staying active over the holidays can be fun, especially if you get the whole family involved.
Laughing boosts your metabolism and releases serotonin in your brain, which reduces stress and improves your mood. If the Christmas dinner gets burnt or your kids keep fighting over the same toy, just laugh. Remember this is the season of love and blessings, the season to feel good.