The holiday season is upon us, and so to is the opportunity for excess and overindulgence. So many of us often use this time of year for a brain break from the intensity of our habits the previous 11 months of the year, because we feel we deserve it and can always get back on track in January. But when we become totally derailed from our usual routine, we often end up feeling worse for wear. Instead, walking the pathway of moderation is actually the most effective way to enjoy the season, but not “undo” all of the hard work that has been achieved until now. The following tips will help you hold onto your health this holiday season.
First, set intentions ahead of time. All too often we accept the holidays as an inevitable “all-or-nothing.” Take some time to set your goals for the holidays. Get crystal clear on how you want to feel and act during the season and then work backward. In order to feel and embody the qualities you hope to exude, set a plan for your eating, drinking and movement.
Next, plan your alternatives. Now is the time to search recipes and stock up on ingredients. You can still use and enjoy all the flavors of the season, without all that extra fluff. Make a crustless pumpkin pie, or use only half of the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole. You still can “indulge,” just not overly so.
On top of that, try to stick to your morning routine as much as possible. Even if we realistically know that we won’t be eating healthy 100% of the time, it’s less likely you’ll go overboard when you start your day healthfully and with intention. For example, make a ritual of drinking a big glass of water upon waking and eating a protein focused breakfast. All of these habits can ease your mind to know that while the entirety of your day may be somewhat outside of your control, at least your morning started off in a positive manner.
Moreover, when you first arrive at a dinner party or holiday event, do a quick survey. Notice the healthy alternatives, if there are any, and make sure you take some time before you fully dive in to the buffet table. The idea is to bring mindfulness to your actions instead of staying on autopilot, which often leads to eating or drinking way more than you originally wanted to.
With that said, while sticking to your intention is important, so is giving yourself permission to indulge. Allow yourself to enjoy the holiday treats that you love. This will actually help reduce stress and cravings. Deprivation is likely the cause of bingeing behaviors in the first place.
Lastly, make stress reduction a priority. Assess your stress management techniques and aim to start a self-care practice. Maybe that means booking a massage, taking a bath, or listening to a guided meditation. Find techniques that work for you through experimentation.
Healthy and holidays are not always synonymous, but they can be! Focusing on the actionable steps you know you can tackle during this time will set you up for your happiest and healthiest holiday season yet!