“The holidays are totally relaxing!” said very few people ever.
This time of year can come with a ton of added pressure to feel, act or be a certain way. With a bit of extra care for your body, mind and spirit, you can feel ready to be your brightest and best self.
Indulge… but make it mindful
It’s common for our eating habits to change this time of year. Between holiday baking sessions and social gatherings, we’re exposed to a lot of added pressure to eat and drink more. Depending on your health situation and goals, this can create unnecessary stress over what you are (and aren’t) eating.
You can reduce some of that tension by avoiding labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”
Instead of focusing on foods to avoid completely, try to shift your thinking to foods you want to eat more of or more often, and foods that you want to eat less of or less often.
The act of labeling foods as good or bad, clean or unclean, or a “cheat meal”, can actually be harmful. By assigning these emotional values to specific items, you’re more likely to experience stress, guilt or self-judgment when eating them. Over time, this creates negative associations with eating and how it impacts your body.
Keep these tips in mind when it comes to indulging over the holidays:
- Above all, follow any advice from your doctor or health professional on what foods you should avoid eating based on your situation.
- Resist the urge to tell yourself that you’ve failed or succeeded based on what you’ve eaten.
- Try to re-frame celebrations involving food and alcohol to be about your love and care for the people around you rather than the need to eat or drink in a certain way.
Healthier Ways to Indulge Over the Holidays
Take it outside
Even a few minutes outside helps you get into a fresh mindset, boost your mood and naturally de-stress.
The added benefit of leaving your home for a few minutes is that it automatically takes you out of the physical situation where you might be feeling stressed out. It places you in a new environment that can help you think more clearly.
The sneaky thing about stress is that you’re likely to think that you don’t have any time to spare to manage it when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The very nature of stress makes it harder for us to pause and think about what steps we could take to reduce the stress itself.
The trick is to schedule it. We’re more likely to do things that we’ve planned. If you know that you’ll have a chunk of spare time, even if it’s just a few minutes, make a commitment to going outside. Put it in your calendar, put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror, add it to your journal, or whatever works for you.
There’s no need to turn getting outside for a moment into “exercise” or something complex. If you want to gear up head-to-toe and track your heart rate, go ahead. If that feels overwhelming, then don’t.
The only thing you have to do is go outside and just “be” in whatever form works best for you:
- Walk around the block a few times.
- Head to a park and take a stroll, sit on a bench, or wander aimlessly. (We highly recommend an aimless wander wherever you feel safe.)
- If you’ve got a pet to walk or a child you could take outside to play, double up their activity time with your outside time.
Lower Your Stress
Make a gratitude list. Check it twice.
When the holidays roll around each year, it can be easy to focus on what we don’t have. We’re bombarded by the new must-haves of the season, prompting us to create never-ending lists of all that stuff we think we need.
Giving gifts can be a joyful, mindful way to express how you care for the folks you love. They don’t need to be something physical — our presence, support and emotions can be deeply meaningful gifts as well. And one of the most life-changing presents you can give yourself is a focus on gratitude.
An all-natural mood booster, gratitude helps us feel happier, more relaxed and present in your day-to-day life. It’s the present of presence.
There tends to be a lot of list-making this time of year. Usually, those lists are plans of things to buy or chores to get done. The next time you sit down to make any kind of list, take a moment to jot down five things you’re grateful to have experienced.
- Try not to overthink it or search for the “right” things. Gratitude is an emotion, and it’s yours to feel however you want to. You can feel grateful for a stranger who smiled at you on the street, seeing a beautiful tree, a comfy pair of socks, hearing a sound that made you laugh, that YouTube channel that plays the sound of a crackling fire — anything you want.
- Acknowledge the small things that bring you — wait for it — comfort and joy! (See what we did there?) As you focus on what you already have, it becomes easier to feel the abundance in your life.
- A gratitude list tip: Usually, the things that pop into your head first are interesting ways to learn about the things you value. Write down whatever comes to mind without trying to filter, edit or judge it.
Even better, make your gratitude list a daily habit. When you wake up or before you go to bed are excellent times to write your list, but it can be whenever you’ve got 30 seconds to spare.