Holiday season is here…a time of year full of family, friends, celebrations and cheers. The holidays can also be a time of increased stress levels, family dramas, financial burden and overindulgence.
So, how can you keep your holiday season merry and bright instead of fraught with stress and fatigue?
1. Make Your Own Holiday Traditions
The holiday season is a time full of obligations, office parties, and family gatherings. Some of which we look forward to and some of which we would rather skip. Establish your own traditions with family or friends that you genuinely look forward to…decorating the tree, going ice-skating, donating to a favorite charity…make these events a priority in your calendar. Go to the events that you feel are essential and skip the rest. If you dread the mall and crowds, order your gifts online. It’s your holiday season.
2. Be Realistic
Do not expect the holiday season to be perfect. Life is always complicated and the holidays are no exception. Things do not have to be perfect to be wonderful. If you are overwhelmed, ask for help. Acknowledge your feelings and accept that you are doing your best. In turn, accept your family and friends as they are and realize that the holidays put undue stress on many of us.
3. Set a Budget
Look at your financial situation and decide what is reasonable to spend on gifts this year before you start shopping. Loved ones value time together much more than a new scarf or tie. If you are strapped for cash, make a homemade gift or ask the family to do a Secret Santa. Most likely you are not the only one who would rather have some extra cash going into the New Year.
4. Enjoy the Pumpkin Pie, One Bite at a Time
From Thanksgiving to New Years Day morning it seems that the world is full of cookies and pies and cakes. From the office to your home to your friend’s homes, suddenly everyone is or knows a baker. The holidays are certainly a time to enjoy good food but realize there will always be more. That pumpkin pie will not be your last and you may even be offered more later that day, week, month. Indulge when you are hungry and not out of boredom or stress.
5. Keep Moving
Stay active despite a hectic schedule. Take advantage of free time to hit the gym or get outside and go for a jog or walk. December 21st marks winter’s solstice, the shortest day of the year with only 9 hours of sunlight and the official start of winter. Do not let your body be fooled by the shortened hours of daylight. Try changing your work out to the morning, as the sun rises around 7am and sets around 4:30pm giving you some extra incentive to wake up earlier and enjoy the day. Staying active will help keep stress at bay and allow you to enjoy your holiday desserts in moderation without weight gain.
6. Stay on Track
The holidays are a break from our normal routines and not the best time to embark on a new healthy lifestyle. It is a time to stay committed to previously established healthy patterns. Focus on healthy habits you already incorporate into your life and keep it up. Do not derail your diet or stop exercising altogether. It is also not a time to set new goals or put unrealistic expectations upon one’s self. Focus on moderation, portion control and maintaining a semblance to your regular routine
7. Be Thankful
The end of the year is an important time to reflect upon the past year and be thankful for all that we have in our lives. Amongst the chaos of the holiday season, it is easy to get lost in the commercial side of the season and to lose sight of the joy. Be grateful to be able to spend time with family and friends. Be grateful for your health. Share your good fortune with others by giving a gift to charity or volunteering your time. Giving back helps those in need and can actually decrease your stress levels and boost your holiday cheer.