It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and also a time full of treats and sweets, a lot less sweat sessions than you likely usually engage in and holiday stress. This is a time of year that often leads to falling off the bandwagon of health on Thanksgiving and then picking it back up in the New Year. What if you could find a way to enjoy the treats, socialize with friends & family and be jolly without turning into Santa Claus himself?! 😉 Rather than throwing in the towel because you feel like you’ve made one too many bad decisions for your health in the last couple weeks, lets get back on track for a holiday season that leaves you feeling good and still looking just as great as when it started.
In this article series on tackling the holidays, I’ll cover how to stress less, eat smart and move more throughout the season, so by the time January 1 rolls around, you are setting new goals rather than just trying to bounce back from the last month and a half.
In this edition we are talking about how to STRESS LESS! This season has a lot of added expectations on top of the usual life pressures. It can be easy to focus on the to-do lists and calendars telling you to buy this, do that, decorate here, attend a party there, without recognizing the beauty of the season. The holidays are meant to be a time enjoyed with friends and family, rather than a stressful month of worrying about how you are going to fit it all in, while still taking a small moment of time for self-care.
If you let your lists and calendars overwhelm you, this season can become far from fun; it makes January 1 seem like a destination to being able to breathe again. By finding ways to take care of yourself and recognize what really matters most this season, you will be able to decrease your cortisol levels and support your body in maintaining good energy levels and a healthy weight. Serious levels of stress don’t do anything good for your fat loss goals or your performance in the gym, especially when paired with Christmas cookie season 😉
Take some time to reflect on what you love most about the season and prioritize the related activities to the top of your list. Do you have amazing childhood memories of cutting down a tree every year and decorating it with your family? Then make time for that. Is creating a thoughtful gift list and wrapping the presents something that fills your heart. Then make time for that. Think of the top 3 things that mean the most to you during this season and commit to making those happen. Don’t stress about the rest. Invited to a friend’s holiday party, but really don’t have the bandwidth to to sip eggnog and socialize? Kindly decline and commit to grabbing coffee together soon. Really not excited about having to bring 2 side dishes to Christmas dinner? Buy something at the grocery store… the inappropriate judgment of your Aunt Susie is far better than losing your sanity, spending 5 hours in the kitchen. (Though you could always bring these super simple Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts as a side dish 😉 )
Focus on the important things and forget the rest. For the days that you feel really overwhelmed by expectations and to-do lists here are a few simple stress-relieving tactics to try, based on the amount of time you have:
Just 1 minute?
- Close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths – 4 counts in, 8 counts out, to fully empty your lungs on each exhale.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for in this very moment.
- Send a text to someone you care about letting them know that you are thinking of them this holiday season. (or in my style, send them the weirdest bitmoji you can find and say “hey” ;P)
10 minutes to spare?
- Download the headspace app and do a 5 minute guided meditation.
- Go through your calendar for the upcoming week and find one thing that is not necessary for your job, your happiness or one of your top 3 selected holiday activities – cancel it.
You have a whole hour free!
- Do something that relaxes you – take a yoga class, cook a new recipe, read a book, heck… take a darn nap!
- Start doing something relaxing, but can’t stop thinking about your to-do list? (I know who you people are 😉 Because sometimes I’m you, too.) Pull out a piece of paper and start writing. Throw down all your feelings. All your thoughts. Keep writing until your beautiful brain has been emptied on the paper and feels clear. Now meditate for 5 minutes. Once you feel more at peace, go back to your to-do list with a clearer head.