Holiday cheer is often overshadowed by the stress of the season. And when you’re trying to get healthier, stress can throw you off your game. The key is to manage that stress in smart, calming, helpful ways.
Take back your holidays! Here’s how you can stay on track with your health goals and soothe your nerves while enjoying all that the season has to offer.
- Food is one of the best parts of the holidays! Let others know you’re trying to eat healthier so they can support you in your goals.
- Don’t skip meals, even on your busiest days. Fuel yourself with veggie-filled meals and produce + protein snacks throughout the day.
- Build a Balanced Plate. Use the 50/25/25 approach when creating your meals. Try to fill 50% of your plate with non-starchy veggies, 25% with lean proteins, and 25% with whole grains or starchy veggies.
- Treats will be everywhere. But you can stay on track! Take only the foods you love, and enjoy your treats slowly and mindfully. They’re more satisfying that way, and easier to moderate.
Strengthen Your Body
- Exercise is a great stress buster! Look for holiday exercise events in your area or online. A Turkey Trot, a Holiday in Lights 5k, a fitness class at your local community center, you name it.
- While shopping, squeeze in more steps by parking further away from the store, taking an extra lap around the store, or taking the stairs instead of elevators.
- Make the weather work for you. Shovel snow instead of using a snow blower. Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in your neighborhood. Have a snowball fight with the kids.
- When you’re stressed, try some strength exercises like push ups, squats, calf raises, or lifting some weights. If you don’t have weights, you can even do bicep curls with heavy cans of veggies or cranberry sauce!
Soothe Your Mind
- You can cope with stress by practicing some deep breathing. Inhale slowly for 4 counts, deep into your belly. Then slowly exhale for 4 counts. This helps calm your body and mind the natural way.
- Laugh off stress! Keep a go-to list of funny videos, jokes, and laugh-out-loud pictures on social media. Invite others in on the joke to help you turn stress into joy.
- Some stress is unavoidable. But you can reduce it by finding a stress management practice that works for you. Meditation, prayer, tai chi, and mindful eating are all great ways to take the sting out of stress.
- Don’t beat yourself up for slips. It’s not the end of the world if you skip a run or have a slice of pie! Just recognize your health goals and, without judging yourself, commit to making healthier decisions for the rest of the day.
Ground in the Now
- Remind yourself that you can trust yourself. You are in the driver’s seat.
- Don’t let chores take over your holiday. Carve out time for fun! Make holiday memories with your loved ones or take a breather for yourself with a seasonal movie or a good book.
- Try not to compare this year to previous years or “the good old days.” Practice staying present in the moment with your friends, family, coworkers, even your pets.
- Try positive self-talk. Reframe negative thoughts into something more helpful. For example, rewrite the thought “This is more than I can handle” into something positive, like “I’ll give it my best shot, and I’ll ask for help if I need it.”
Happy holidays from our family to yours!