Keeping Good Habits During the Holidays
The holidays are always a time we all look forward to as parties, shopping trips, festivals, and other events occur nearly every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maintaining your health, nutrition, exercise, and mental wellness practices can be challenging with all of the excitement and obligations. While it may seem like your schedule is too jam-packed and stressful to keep up with your good habits, keeping these routines is a better way to manage your stress while still enjoying the holidays.
We know that it is difficult to maintain a balanced lifestyle during the holidays with all of the stress and temptation. Trust us, we are not implying that you shouldn’t enjoy all of the treats and holiday activities. Instead, we wanted to give you some useful tips on how to manage your holiday fun while still maintaining your balance. Continue reading to learn how you can keep yourself and your wellness a top priority this holiday season.
Create a mini-mindfulness practice or routine
The holidays can create many stressful and exciting situations, both positive and negatively charged. Having a small, manageable centering practice to use when you find yourself under pressure is a valuable tool to help you regroup. This mini practice can be a simple, positive affirmation, reframing stress into gratitude, a breathing technique, or merely creating a quiet space that you can far from the craziness.
Whichever mini practice you choose, you are giving yourself pause to regroup, reframe, and check-in with yourself. No matter how little time it is, taking this time lets your mind take a break from all of the stimulation it is experiencing. So, if you find yourself dodging Aunt Betty or Uncle Fred’s intrusive personal questions, and you have just about had enough, excuse yourself to a quiet place and engage with your mini practice.
Don’t let go of your exercise routine
Squeezing in a workout can seem like a chore with so many different events and parties going on, but it is imperative to keep up with your self-care, and that includes your exercise routine. If you are making an effort to schedule shopping, parties, dinners, events, and all of the other holiday festivities, then you need to make sure that you are scheduling time for your workouts. No, walking around the mall or too and from your car in the parking lot, unfortunately, does not count. We are just as upset about that as you are.
If you are only able to make time for short workouts, that’s fine! Twenty minutes of getting your blood pumping, taking in a bunch of fresh oxygen, and breaking a sweat are going to have incredible benefits to your physical and mental health.
Prioritize your sleep
We know that it is fun to stay up late watching holiday movies and reconnecting with family and friends but depriving yourself of getting enough sleep can have many adverse side effects. Too little sleep affects your mood, can boost hunger and cravings,and makes it hard to focus or pay attention, among many other things.
One of those things being how well your immune system functions, which in 2020 is a top priority. A national study found that those who sleep at least eight hours each night were nearly three times less likely to catch a cold than those who slept less than seven hours. Poor sleep and sleep deprivation have a significant impact on your hormones. Your hormones control much of your body functions, so it is imperative to keep them in check.
Give your guests the tempting leftovers
All of those cakes, cookies, pies, and decadent foods are delicious and should be enjoyed over the holidays, or any other time for that matter. However, these treats are usually available in excess during the holidays, especially at friend and family parties. Your guests will likely think that the most polite thing to do is leave the treats at your home for the host to enjoy after they have thrown a fantastic party.
Do not let your guest leave empty-handed. Give away as many of those sugary and indulgent treats as possible. Feel free to keep healthier options such as meats, cheeses, veggies, and fruits. They can make a great addition to yummy salads throughout the week. By giving away the treats that are easy to feast on mindlessly, you are virtually eliminating the temptation to binge on foods that don’t add much nutritional value to your diet. Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t go shopping or to an event hungry
We understand the logic during the holidays. You may be someone who rationalizes being able to go crazy on all of the treats at a holiday party if you fast for the whole day beforehand. Take it from someone with first-hand experience of this approach – it almost always backfires. If you go to a party or the mall starving, you are likely to eat everything in sight without considering how full all of the food is making you feel. None of the consumption is mindful, and before you know it, you have eaten enough to keep you full for days.
Instead, try having a light snack or a small meal before you go out. Reach for something delicious and somewhat filling, such as some yogurt and fruit, peanut butter toast, cheese, or a small salad with some protein. Eating something small but satisfying will make you less likely to reach for all of the snacks and treats at the mall or when you arrive at a party.
Keep the focus on the holidays, not the food
There is nothing wrong with getting excited about holiday meals spent with family and loved ones. Your aunt is making her famous mashed potatoes, while grandma baked enough cookies to open up her own bakery – we get it, all of your favorite foods are corralled in one place. By all means, enjoy every single bite! After you have enjoyed your dinner and dessert, focus your attention on connecting and catching up with family and friends. Even better if you can chit chat away from the table with all of the hors d'oeuvres – yes, that one.
Mindless snacking is just too easy and tempting when you are standing by the table with all of the yummy snacks. Add some good conversation to that equation, and before you know it, you would have eaten a second dinner’s worth of picky foods.
Less alcohol, more water
Alcohol contains many calories, which are likely not as enjoyable as the calories you are consuming from all of the delicious treats. Not only do these calories add up fast, but they also make it easier for you to indulge in other treats mindlessly. We know that the drinks are great for loosening you up around your family and make for silly conversations, but ultimately binging leads to overindulging and a likely hangover the next day. A word to the wise – they get worse as you get older.
Instead, tell yourself that you are going to stick to two drinks throughout the party or dinner. Alternating your drinks with a glass of water is an excellent method for controlling your alcohol intake without feeling like you are depriving yourself. Sipping on the water between drinks keeps you hydrated, slows your alcohol consumption, and helps to avoid any hangover the next day. Also, water is an essential component to keeping you feeling full and satiated. Often people mistake thirst for hunger and keep eating to satisfy the wrong need.
Keep up with the status quo
We know that the holidays can feel like a two-month-longvacation from real life, and what do we do on vacation? Indulge! And that is fine, you should enjoy yourself on vacation, but most vacations do not last for months. Instead of treating November through January as a free for all, where you can eat whatever you want, forgo your exercise, and drink as much alcohol as possible, try sticking to the health and wellness routines that you already have. It is likely not the best time to start creating new personal habits, but maintaining the good habits you already have is an excellent way to stay focused on your health and wellness during the holidays.
The bottom line is that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed! So many of us let ourselves overindulge, and then we end up feeling guilty or angry with ourselves afterward. This is easily avoidable with this tried-and-true approach – moderation. It may not be fun or groundbreaking, but letting yourself enjoy some holiday treats while otherwise maintaining your healthier habits will lead to a much more enjoyable holiday experience.
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