There is so much to look forward to this time of year such as seeing family, gift giving, and preparing treats (and eating said treats). But there are a lot of terrible things about the holiday season.
Many of us overindulge on food that leads us towards disease vs optimal wellness. And *sigh* the preparation for the holidays such as shopping, wrapping, cooking and baking! We do all of this while still maintaining our work schedule and taking care of our families. To say the holidays contribute to our stress load is an understatement.
However, we can emerge healthier and more refreshed into 2018 if we are smart during the holidays. I'm going to share with you how every year I'm the same weight come January, I don't feel drained, and my resilience to stress is just the same as it is the rest of the year.
Some of this might make me sound a bit like a scrooge or a party pooper. But I assure you, these things keep me balanced, allow me to be myself, and enable me to carry joy around to spread to others. And they can do the same for you.
I SIMPLIFY and say 'No'
I get that we want to do a lot to make this time of year special (especially for kids), but you don't have to go nuts buying more decorations, buying and making gifts for everyone you know, or slaving away in the kitchen... Baking cookies for the neighbors, your mail carrier, pies for this event, rumballs for that event-- you don't have to commit to it all.
Online shopping vs shopping in stores has been one of the BEST saving graces for me in this day and age. Avoiding crowds is one of my life missions! (Here's the sensitive INFJ/ISFJ coming out).
Choose the few holiday rituals you hold sacred and involve the ones closest to you. For me, the hubby and I love putting on Christmas music, drinking a holiday beverage of sorts, and decorating the tree together (he especially loves this because he's of a Jewish background and didn't grow up with it).
Commit to what you feel you can handle while keeping your sanity. 'No' is always an acceptable answer without having to explain yourself for turning down a party or bringing baked goods. For the neighbors or postal worker, a nice card with a personal note showing you remember something about them or are grateful for them for a special reason... that can mean more than baked goods (which they all probably have enough of anyways).
I stay committed to the rituals that keep me grounded, eating well, and feeling well.
In the past I've allowed traveling to unravel my self care. Then a few years ago I decided that not feeling great when it was all said and done wasn't worth it.
I continue to practice qigong and meditate... they may not always be able to be at the same time of day, but I still provide myself with that sacred space. This keeps me grounded.
Alone time is huge for me (INFJ/ ISFJ here) and I take it when I need it. I find ways to have it. Last year when my sister took the kids to church Christmas Eve, I offered to stay back and cook... it was as much for me as it was for her.
Whatever helps to keep you grounded, commit to it. It could be getting coffee with an old friend you only see once a year. Find that space that keeps you grounded and don't be afraid to ask for it.
I eat what I want to eat
No joke. I don't WANT to eat the crap many tend to eat around this time of year because if I do, I'll feel like sh*t. So when I say I eat what I want to eat, I WANT to eat HEALTHY and what makes me feel good.
Cookies I just don't eat- unless I've made them myself with ingredients that are clean and simple. The little cakes, pies, quiches, tarts, tortes, 'taters... no thanks. I love you, Mom, but no thanks. Chocolate dipped pretzels with eyes and antlers made to look like Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer? I appreciate the effort, but nope. Egg nogg? In the words of 'Sara with no "h" 'cuz h's are ew!'- EW! (Hey, hey to my fellow Jimmy Fallon fans!).
Okay, so what do I eat at a holiday dinner? Mostly, I eat what I would normally eat. Plant-based, low-fat, whole-foods. So last year for Christmas when my family had mashed potatoes (with butter, milk and cheese), green bean casserole (with those odd canned fried onions beloved by so many), and ham- I made a pumpkin soup (yes, from an actual pumpkin) and creamed kale (using coconut milk) with onions and nutmeg. And some of my family enjoyed these healthier options, too! Whichever food lifestyle you are committed to, plan ahead and find ways to incorporate it... even if you're a guest and the host makes everything... bring a dish that will help you stay on your plan.
For dessert when they all had pumpkin pie and cherry cheesecake, I simply had healthy dark chocolate (soy, dairy, and refined sugar free of course!). It sounds boring and normally at home I would make something like date, coconut, and pecan rolls. But I was traveling and that was just what was easy.
I know it sounds somewhat boring, but like I said, I eat what I want to eat. And I want to eat to feel good! However, I do consider what my family will eat. One of my nieces actually LOVES pumpkin soup so I really enjoyed making it for her (and my sister and husband loved it, too). So the love was still there, you know? It wasn't just for me.
Plan ahead. If you know your weakness is pie, make room for it. Eat really clean, but allow yourself that pie and savor it.
Don't get down on yourself if you did overindulge. Just move forward and stick with your plan as best you can.
I incorporate MOVEMENT when I can.
Aaron and I always find time to take walks. It's nice getting away from a loud house filled with screaming kids, loud toys, and a house full of people for days at a time.
I commit to practice yoga some mornings... although I do it in the middle of the day at home, it's much easier while the house is still quiet.
Perhaps there is a family member who will also commit to some form of exercise with you. Back in the day, my sister and I used to run together at least once during the holidays.
Like I said, incorporate MOVEMENT, it doesn't have to be a structured fitness routine. Play with the kids. Bench press the toddlers. Stretch. Move your body around anyway you can... you'll feel better getting the blood and qi flowing.
I'm okay being the different one, the one they all know won't eat this or that and has her own thing going on in the kitchen. I am who I am, proudly!
Keep this in mind and arrive into 2018 with confidence, feeling vibrant, and ready to begin a new year. Your body will thank you then and it will thank you later.
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful, joyous, and loving holiday season <3
To your health and healing,