Do you find that by the time holidays pass, you are sporting an extra bulge around the middle, feeling sluggish, fighting off a cold and feeling stressed out and frazzled? Or maybe you’ve already chosen to deal with the holidays by nose diving straight into a big apple pie and bowl of stuffing?
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, 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. Maybe it means you have some down time every day. Maybe it means you always take your own healthy food to social events or eat before you go. Maybe it means 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 those that drain you or take up more of your time and energy.
Take action now to set yourself up to succeed with these non negotiables. Get yourself completely prepared for each of them so that you have no excuse but to follow through with them when the pressure is on.
2. Become a healthy food ninja
We all know how poor food choices can severely drain our energy and mood. 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 lethargic and irritable in no time.
To combat this, choose to eat only the best quality foods when you are making your own meals and not at social events – alkaline, hydrating, fresh fruits and vegetables.. In your own home there is no reason why you can’t give yourself only the most nutritious foods to sett 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 will may suffice to bring carrot sticks and hummus because of lack of time, if you take something that thrills you and you can barely wait to eat, you will feel so much more excited about eating clean at events. You can then add a taste of the less healthy foods to your plate if you wish but the impact of consuming those will be far reduced.
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 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 going 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 tap water!
3. Keep your immunity strong
Keeping your immune system strong throughout the holidays will ensure you don’t end up with an overeating and sugar coma induced cold or flu. Nothing like ending a bunch of parties with a miserable cold…no thanks! Instead, take simple measures right away to boost your immune system’s ability to deal with the extra stimuli and busy schedule. Check out this article on simple ways to keep your immunity high. I love a green juice and Chaga and Reishi tea elixir every morning (and not just for the holidays) to keep my system in shape.
4. Allow for some compromise and flexibility in your schedule
While it is important to keep up an absolute minimum level of practices that make you feel happy and well, it’s helpful to be a little less rigid with yourself than you normally might be. This time of year can be crazy busy. A big factor in your happiness over the holidays, and in life even, is flexibility. Unfortunately, things aren’t always going to go as you expect. Accept this and allow yourself to change with the situations you’re 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.
5. Get straight back in the game
So you overdid it or you ate a lot of junk and now you feel terrible. 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. Heck, you can’t even remember the last time your bowels moved! (Ok, 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 three 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. 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, comfortable and quickest way to start feeling your normal energy and vitality again is to just re-commence your normal routine, rather than feeding a binge/purge or binge/restrict mentality (pun intended). It makes for a much healthier and happier mind, soul and body. You will get results more quickly by resuming your normal routine than if you set yourself up for guilt and self punishment for days after with crash diets or over-exercising.
6. Choose your response
The holiday season, with its increased interaction with family and friends and social and financial pressures, is a prime time for the stress beast to take over. Your body needs to remain in an alkaline state to stay healthy and when anger and upset flood the body, so too does acidity. This leads to illness and symptoms over time. Fortunately, how you think about stress has a huge impact on whether it causes damage to your health and body.
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 put you down. Do not buy into their behavior. It is usually just masking their insecurities and lack of self worth.
Victor 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 other’s provocations or judgement. 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).
I don’t think anyone is flawed, but people can be caught up in their own stories, limiting beliefs and other misguided notions. Trusting, accepting and allowing is a powerful process to surrender to the moment and find gratitude in everything.
7. 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 address your own resentments and feelings by preparing to manage it before the event even happens…and it may not even happen. Get your hurt and anger out by writing a letter, in a journal, doing some meditation, talking to a friend or directly to the person involved (a great option) 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 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 is more pacifying than a kind and gentle heart and spirit. Hold a space of compassion and rise above the dramas.
Now, it’s time to enjoy the holidays knowing you have put in place steps to ensure you come out the other side feeling just as good, or even better, than you do now!
How do you normally fare over the holiday season? Do you come out of it feeling healthy and relaxed, or heavy and tired? Let us know in the comments below. If you like this post, please share it.