6 Ways To Stay Healthy And Stress-Free Over The Holidays
Do you find that by the time the new year hits, you are sporting an extra bulge around the middle, feeling sluggish, fighting off a cold and feeling stressed out and frazzled?
While the holiday season brings fun, laughter and festivities, it can also bring a lot of stress, poor quality food, lack of routine, social pressures and emotional situations.
Short of hiding away for the entire holiday season, it can feel like there is no way to escape the dreaded lethargy and poor health that comes with a season of indulgence, constant social events and the pressure to drink and eat like everyone else.
Fortunately, with a little forethought and planning you can have both – a healthy body, mind and spirit AND a holiday season full of fun. Here are some tips for you so that you get through your holiday season healthy, happy and ready for a wonderful new year ahead.
1. Set your game plan - Make a list of your "non-negotiables" to stay happy and healthy throughout the holiday season, and then stick to it. Maybe that means you find a way to keep up your meditation, yoga or exercise routine. Or you have some down time every day. Maybe you always take your own healthy food to social events or eat before you go. Or you always have vegetable juice in the morning to alkalize your body before your day becomes unpredictable. The key is to actually make your list and then put it into action!
For most people, this is not the time to be putting extra goals on your list to achieve. Instead focus on what you really need to include to feel fantastic over the holidays without adding to your schedule. These are the activities that support and nourish you, not drain you or take up even more of your time and energy.
Get yourself completely prepared for each of your non-negotiables now so that you have no excuse but to follow through with them when the pressure is on.
2. Become a healthy food ninja - Poor food choices can severely drain your energy and cause stress and irritability. If you choose to indulge in rich, sugary, salty, fatty foods every time you have an event over the holidays (the normal fare offered socially), you can guarantee you’ll have a spare tire around your middle and be feeling moody in no time.
Choose to eat only the best quality foods, mostly alkaline, hydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, whenever you are making your own meals. In your own home there is no reason why you can’t give yourself and those with you only the most nutritious foods and you’ll be setting yourself up to bounce back from outside indulgences as quickly as possible.
When you are going to an event don’t be shy to take your own food. Make sure it is incredibly delicious, beautifully presented and totally in line with your dietary choices so that you feel excited about it. If you love the food you bring you are not going to feel deprived. So while it’s fine to bring carrot sticks and hummus, try taking something which is going to thrill you so that you can’t wait to dive into it at the event.
Even better, take an impressive veggie dish along with you to share with the other guests. Usually people will pounce on a beautifully presented vegetable dish so just be sure to put aside an extra container for yourself! Alternatively you can call ahead to the host/hostess or restaurant to ensure there will be food choices for you, or you can eat a delicious meal or snack before you go. Whatever you decide to do, make sure there is food you can eat or that you are not hungry. I imagine you might be sporting a rather glum face if you get to a party and as everyone enjoys their feast of roasted meats, sugar and flour heavy desserts you sip your warm tap water!
3. Allow for some compromise/schedule in flexibility - While it is important to keep your non-negotiables sacred, it is also important to realize that this time of year is particularly crazy. To help prepare for the unexpected, build some flexibility into your plans. Unfortunately, things aren't always going to go your way or be as perfect as you like them. Accept this and allow yourself some room to change with the situations you are in. If you keep an open mind and prepare yourself to adapt as necessary (both physically and mentally), you will have a much more enjoyable and stress-free holiday experience.
4. Get straight back in the game - So you overdid it or you ate foods you don't feel good about. So you didn't move or exercise at all for a couple of weeks. So you totally ditched your meditation practice and barely remember what a yoga mat looks like. Hell, you can't even remember the last time your bowels moved! (Ok, ideally you really don't want to be experiencing this last one but you get the picture).
So what now? Do you promise yourself you'll not eat at all for the next two days until your body drops the extra pounds you put on? Do you tell yourself you'll work out for two hours every day for the next two weeks to "make up for it"?
How about this—just get straight back in the game, i.e. your normal routine! So get back into your exercise four times per week, get back to eating those foods that make you feel wonderful in the quantities that satisfy you, start your meditation practice again and book in for your next colonic.
The best strategy, and by far the most realistic and comfortable way to get your energy and vitality back is to just re-commence your normal routine, rather than going from one extreme to another. You will get results much faster by going back to your normal routine than if you set yourself up for guilt and self punishment for days after.
5. Choose your response - The holiday season, with its increased interaction with family and friends and financial pressures, is a prime time for the stress beast to take over and ravage your health and happiness. The body needs to remain in an alkaline state to stay healthy and when stress, anger and upset flood the body, so too does acidity. This leads to illness and symptoms over time.
The key to letting go of stress, anger and upset is to manage your own expectations of others and then choose how you will respond. No one will ever do anything exactly as you think they should do - because they are not you! Some people are just going to be difficult or make rude comments or try to put you down. Do not buy into their behavior. It is usually just masking their insecurities.
Viktor Frankl, author and Holocaust survivor, said it well: “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” You need to choose to make your health and happiness a priority and not respond to others' provocations or judgment. Tolerate others' flaws, knowing that their flaws don't need to affect your happiness as this only comes from within you and how you choose to respond (or not respond as the case may be).
6. Pick your moments - If you have pent up resentment, bitterness, anger, hurt or disappointment festering inside you, don't let it out in a reactive fit of rage at the family events this season. If you know being around certain family members and friends can get you curled up into a tight ball of pain and anger, and that you will be exposed to these people even more than usual over the holiday season, then put in place ways to avoid letting out this rage at an inappropriate time.
Take the higher road and know what could set you off so that you are prepared to manage it before the event even happens. Get your hurt and anger out by writing a letter, in a journal, doing some meditation, talking to a friend or releasing your emotion though any other means that appeals to you.
If you come to your holiday events calmer and with that emotional release out of the way (or at least a strategy in place to deal with it if and when it comes up), you are less likely to respond in a defensive, angry or over-sensitive way and in fact you may find that those scathing comments don't seem to appear at all. It's all about the energy and confidence you exude and nothing promotes a peaceful environment more than a kind and gentle heart and spirit. Hold a space of compassion and rise above the dramas. Now all you need to do is go and have the best holiday season ever!