Well...it happened. We blinked and we are no longer lighting off fireworks or grilling out by the pool. Instead, we are dusting off coats from the back of the closet and daydreaming about the turkey soon to be wafting through our kitchen. The holidays are approaching, and while this time of year is incredibly exciting, it can also be a bit draining or anxiety-inducing for some. Practice these seven tips to tackle all aspects of your health this holiday season.
Photo: Molly Middleton
Cooler weather is here (dare I even use the word “freezing?"). It’s natural to want to veg out in front of the fire in those newly purchased walmart pj’s - oh, just me? However, just like the rest of the year, it’s important to stay active this season. If you need a little motivation, start by purchasing a new workout outfit; perhaps one that’ll inspire you to take your own selfie in the gym mirror, flexing for the ‘gram.
It’s inevitable: the holidays are surrounded by food. If you’re someone who struggles with portions, lest I blame you with all that green bean casserole! The future is now. But monitor those portions. Take a single scoop of each item, and go back for seconds if you’re still hungry after twenty minutes have passed since you finished eating. If you eat out, split a plate with your dinner partner. Another option is to grab a to-go box ahead of time and pack up half for tomorrow’s lunch so you won’t feel unsatisfied when you have to stop yourself from clearing the plate.
As important as your physical health is, it’s critical to look out for your mental health, too. Opinion: every breathing human should attend therapy, but that’s neither here nor there. (There’s nothing quite like personal development.) Whether your stressor is financial, family, food, or friends, stress is sure to wear you down at some point. Get it out of your head and into the open. If you haven’t checked out therapy before, maybe now is the perfect time to give it a try.
Photo: Molly Middleton
That water bottle should be as attached to you as a toddler begging for Mom’s attention. The air is dry. We’re innately more sedentary. This is not the time for constipation! Protect those kidneys - flush out toxins. Assist your digestion and keep your energy up. While recent studies show there’s not a particular amount of water recommended anymore, aim for ~ 3 liters/day.
Feel empowered to create a holiday plan. Channel your inner Lorelai Gilmore and establish a code word to signal to the very closest friends or family if you need to exit your environment after a specified amount of time. Have a conversation with yourself. If you know Aunt Betty triggers you with every “are you STILL single" question, plan your reaction ahead of time. Maybe you’ll tell her you have dates lined up or just make a joke of it. Be proactive, and less reactive.
Sleep is not for the weak. Sleep is not something you’ll do when you die. Sleep is for the here and now, y’all. And everyone in favor of implementing nap time at work said “amen!" Your body cannot function properly without adequate rest. Your parents taught you this at a young age when you refused bedtime to watch your favorite tv show or play your favorite video game. Lack of sleep has been linked to decreased cognitive function, impaired interactions, and physical challenges. Your emotional health is directly correlated with lack of sleep, which should be your number-one motivator for the holidays.
Know the holidays don’t last forever. Remember the reason we celebrate this time of year. Stay present and enjoy. As I’m sure this holiday season looks different than the last, so will next year. Accept this year for what it is. If you find yourself in an intense feeling of panic at any point throughout the season, practice deep breathing. Count to three as you inhale and count to three as you exhale. Slow and steady breaths will ignite your parasympathetic nervous system which will in turn promote relaxation to calm you down and slow your heart rate.
Set yourself up for success in preparation for the coming holidays. Practicing these seven tips will be sure to keep you on track to a strong 2018 finish. You can do it!