Some people simply love the holidays. Others utterly despise them. The rest of us fall somewhere in between. Food, family and festivities are all part of the holiday season and contribute to our own personal reasons for loving, hating or love-hating the holidays. This article will provide you with some simple, natural strategies for surviving the holidays; body, mind, spirit and planet.
Body: Our bodies take a huge hit during the holidays. We definitely eat foods that we don’t typically eat and we often eat more food and more often than usual. In addition, due to the chaos of holiday shopping, holiday parties, holiday cards, holiday cooking and holiday decorating, we often sacrifice our exercise routine to make time for these events. While we’re on the run, taking steps to complete the tasks just mentioned, we may not take the time to prepare healthy meals. We may find ourselves eating at the drive-through or the food court.
Body Tips: Pack a brown bag of easy to eat, healthy foods to eat while you’re on the run. Assorted, raw nuts are a great, healthy snack that will give you energy, protein, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants to help combat the effects of stress. Throw a couple of apples or pears in there too. Baby carrots, whole grain crackers and a container of hummus also make for a quick and healthy snack. Be sure to drink plenty of water (half your body weight in ounces) to support your health and immunity – especially during times of stress. When it comes to the holiday table, as crazy as it sounds, use smaller plates and serving utensils to reduce portion size. Even using a smaller fork will help you to consume less food. The mistake many people make is they take a portion equal to what they would eat at a normal meal. The problem is there is usually about 3-5 times as much food as usual so you end up taking insane amounts of food. Using a teaspoon or tablespoon instead of a serving spoon will allow you to taste everything without over-doing it.
Mind: The mind probably takes the biggest hit during the holidays. With so many things to remember and do, we get overwhelmed very easily. Combine this with the shorter daylight hours, and you have a recipe for holiday depression. Many of us are so busy making sure that everyone else enjoys the holidays that we over-extend and over-schedule ourselves to the brink of insanity.
Mind Tips: Sit down and make a list of everything that you usually do or try to do for the holidays. Prioritize those items as: “Do”, “Drop”, or “Delegate”. Then take the “Do” items and prioritize them as “Must Do” and “Nice to Do”. Focus on the “Must-Do” items first. On the “Delegate” list, make a list of who you will delegate the task to, write the date that you delegated it, and the date they agreed to get it done by. Follow up on that date or simply trust them to get it done. This is a great time of year to edit your external influences. Stop watching or reading the news. Listen to some classical or spa-type music in the car or while cooking, cleaning or wrapping. Holiday music is fine too, as long as it puts you in a good mood. Understand that others are stressed out too and, even if they rub you the wrong way, wish them “Happy Holidays” and move on.
Spirit: It’s funny when people talk about the holiday spirit because from what I can tell, it’s not the Spirit of Christmas Past, Present of Future; it’s the Spirit of Christmas Insanity. Let me start by saying that if it doesn’t enrich your holiday experience either don’t do it at all or, if you feel obligated, do it to the minimal level possible to protect yourself from negative influences.
Spirit Tips: If you hate your work’s holiday party, don’t go. If you can’t afford gifts, write a note detailing a fond memory you have of that person. Thank them for being in your life. If your family drives you crazy, come late and leave early to the holiday festivities. No one will give you a hard time if you skip out to visit a nursing home, hospital, or homeless shelter. I guarantee that you will have a lot more holiday spirit by putting a smile on a sick child’s face versus trading scratch-tickets and bottles of booze at the Yankee Swap.
Planet: During the holidays, we create a lot of waste that will end up in landfills. We use a lot of extra fuel running around from mall to mall and having presents shipped across the country. Try to keep the planet in mind as make your holiday plans.
Planet Tips: Buy food from local farms or as local as you can get. If you live in Connecticut, buy potatoes from Maine. If you live in Colorado, buy potatoes from Idaho. Don’t buy tinsel; decorate pine cones instead. String popcorn and cranberries instead of using foil garland. Send gift cards instead of heavy boxes. Grab a friend and carpool to the mall. You will have more luck finding one parking space than two and you can divide and conquer. One of you takes a list to the toy store, one of you takes a list to the department store and you rendezvous in the lobby at a certain time. If there are questions, there are cell phones.
The holidays are supposed to be a time for cheer. Take a step back and evaluate your holiday schedule and ask yourself which parts enrich your life, and which parts impair your life. Make choices that will enhance your holiday experience; body, mind, spirit and planet.