The holidays are a magical time of year – dazzling lights, enchanting music, chilly weather, a flurry of holiday parties, and a slew of food, drink, and merriment. It’s a great time of year for most, but it can be a difficult time of year for many. Here’s a few tips to stay healthy – mentally, physically and emotionally – during this wonderful time of year.
Take Time for Yourself
The common denominator during the holidays is a crammed schedule. We are all busy. Between shopping, decorating, cooking, preparing for out-of-town-guests (or traveling), holiday parties and family obligations, daily life can feel overwhelming. My most effective strategy for staying sane is to carve out quiet, alone time.
Whether it’s a solo run, morning yoga, or just Netflix & chilling by myself, I make sure to get enough alone time to decompress – even if it’s just for an hour or two.
The other anxiety-inducing aspect of the holidays besides time is the food & drink – for me, at least. The holidays can feel like a minefield for healthy eaters, athletes in training, or anyone that’s made progress on their health journey. Few of us would ever cook a gigantic feast and lay out an entire dessert tablet to choose from on our own, right? But that’s the reality of most parties & family events.
There’s nothing wrong with feasting, of course – but when you’re spending time, energy, effort and money on eating healthfully, it can be tough to conquer the dessert table. For me, it’s not even about the calories or macros – it’s about the very upset stomach the next day from eating a slew of rich foods I don’t usually eat.
My strategy is to make sure I keep moving, even with an already busy schedule. I sneak in quick runs and gym sessions as much as possible, and one of our family traditions is to go on a run on Christmas Day with my Dad – and now, with my fiancée as well. It helps us celebrate the day and take care of ourselves at the same time.
Another option is to sign up for a holiday 5k – almost every city has them, and it’s a great way to dress up and enjoy the season while still getting in some miles.
Forget the Guilt
Back to the food – there is literally no purpose in feeling guilty about indulging. It’s practically impossible to eat 100% clean during this time of year anyways, unless you bring your own food in Tupperware to every party you attend. That’s not much fun, is it?
I get rid of the guilt by filling my plate with veggies, fruits, and lighter dishes and picking a few indulgences I really love. That way, I get to indulge without too much of a stomach ache. I also love to bring a dish of roasted veggies, salad, or healthy dessert to potlucks so I know I’ll at least have a base for my plate.
Focus on the Reason for the Season
During the craziness of the holidays, we often forget that it’s not really about gifts, eggnog, drinks, pies, red and white, Santa, and decorations. That’s all fun, but it’s about a lot more than that – spending time with family, letting friends know you love them, reaching out to people we’ve lost touch with, merriment, celebration, community, closeness. Not to mention the religious aspects of whatever you and your family celebrate – hello, birthday of my Lord & Savior!
Don’t get caught up in the commercialism of the whole thing when it’s not even about that. It’s about all the good, mushy, happy, lovey stuff – not on eating the least pie or snagging the best gift.