The Holidays are Here!
With Thanksgiving in our rear view mirror its safe to say we have entered the season of all things festive, fun and food related. At our house, the holidays bring not only Christmas, but also a birthday (2 days before Christmas) and wedding anniversary (3 days after.) Between the shopping, decorating, cookie making, Hallmark movie watching, cooking, cooking and more cooking it can be a lot. Each year it seems I get to the point where I am doing all I can to wake up Christmas morning more Cindy Lou Who than the Grinch. You know the scene in the Polar Express when the train is skidding across the frozen lake? That’s December for you friends.
But like most marathons I’ve run, I tend to approach things like the holidays with the same mindset- preparation, planning and time for recovery is key to making it through the mistletoe covered finish line.
1) Cut yourself some slack.
Admittedly this ain’t easy. Part of my stress over the holidays comes from trying to create a sense of magic, wonder and awe for my family. My mother has always considered herself one of Santa’s best helpers and frankly her shoes are larger to fill the Buddy the Elf’s. (That’s the third holiday movie reference for those keeping track.) In my attempt to make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year for my family, I discovered that it was quickly becoming my least favorite time of the year. I am learning that maybe the fine details aren’t as important as I once thought. Let go of the everything- must-be-perfect mentality. If your decorations aren’t as on point as your sister’s, so be it. It's just right to your kids.
2) Stick to the parts of your routine that work for you.
The holidays are busy and its easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to practice your mediation or get in your daily workout but if those are the things that keep you grounded and help you to offset some of the stress that comes this time of year, make them non-negotiable. When my kids were tiny I often found the only time I could get my run in was in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes during the holidays, this seemed to be too much, but when I was out running in the stillness of the predawn hours it proved to be the best medicine for my tired mama soul. It was uninterrupted time just for me and it was magical.
3) Ditch the parts of your routine that don’t work for you.
Maybe getting that run in is too much. Let it go and give yourself a break. There’s always January.
4) Keep feeding your body what it needs.
The holidays are filled with those special treats we supposedly get just once a year and this can cause us to over indulge in ways we regret. By all means, have the treats, just don’t abandon the foods that really nourish your body. This is a big one for me. For most of my life, while I looked forward to the delicious foods served during the holidays, it was also a big point of stress for me. As someone with a history of disordered eating, the holidays could trigger a lot of not so healthy feelings and thoughts. Like most people, I’d take the approach that I should “save my calories” for the big meals and then eat things that didn’t really help me feel good physically and later mentally. Now, I stick with what works. I bring a few of my favorite whole food recipes to share with others and I follow my normal diet throughout the day. I can’t tell how how much this has helped me enjoy the holiday season more. I feel so much more in control of what works for me and less of feeling like I have to say yes to all the things because I don’t want to offend anyone. Knowing I’ve made choices I feel good about also helps me to indulge without the past feelings of shame and guilt.
5) Prioritize sleep. Burning the holiday candle at both ends will most certainly make staying on top of your health goals and to do list much more difficult. Take advantage of the cold, dark nights as we approach the Winter Solstice and snuggle in a little earlier to bed. If the UPS driver delivering packages sees you’re already in your pajamas at 4:30 p.m. no big deal.
Sticking to the habits that ground you in your wellness journey during the holidays will make a huge difference in feeling less stressed and more present with your friends and family. What can you do to take care of yourself this season?