Happy Holidays? Tips to Get Balanced Before You Go Bonkers

by Simla on December 21, 2010

Does your holiday routine feel more like a curse than a celebration ? You are not alone.

It’s no secret that December is a tough month for many people. On the one hand, it’s full of fun: presents, parties, sweets, and seeing loved ones. And on the other hand, it’s exhausting. We all do our best to stay afloat among the sea of extra activities such as cooking, baking, shopping, sending cards and attending holiday parties.

By the end of the month, most of us are just happy we survived. It’s so easy to lose your sense of balance this month with so much extra stimulation. Don’t fret! Start by identifying some of the biggest obstacles, see how you can find balance, and keep yourself grounded amongst the holiday chaos. I address the obstacles of food, exercise, and emotional pressure below. And don’t miss my 3 biggest tips for staying balanced this month at the end of this article.

Naughty and Nice Eating Habits
Food is abundant this time of year and many people overindulge. Some of us are “good” all year and then go crazy with holiday sweets and treats. If “good” is a code word for a majorly restricted diet, then your body’s natural response will be to rebel with extreme cravings. Aim to eat about 80% healthy, nourishing foods and 20% fun foods instead, which I call the 80/20 rule.

The holidays can be a treat. If you normally eat healthfully and are in good overall health, don’t worry too much if you overindulge for a day—or four—over this month. All is not lost if you start your day having cookies for breakfast. Every moment presents the chance to make a new choice. You had the cookies. I hope you enjoyed them. Now move on! No guilt allowed.

On the other hand, if the holidays heighten some existing unhealthy food habits for you and consistently lead to weight gain and other unpleasant side effects that are hard to shake off each year, it’s time to heed the 80/20 rule.

Unrecognized emotional or physical issues can drive unhealthy eating habits, especially this time of year. Getting to the root of why you’re crunching furiously on those party chips or shoveling chocolate down without even tasting it takes some finesse. Usually, it starts with getting yourself a bit more grounded. Many times, stress is the culprit. So don’t be afraid to keep tools in place to balance stress. Treat yourself to a massage, a brain-candy magazine, a good book, or a hot bath—something just for you.

When it comes to sweets, look to see if you’re missing some sweetness in your life. If your relationships are not healthy or loving enough, you may be craving sugar. Maybe you need to schedule a date night with your partner or your kids. Or ask for a hug. Or practice a loving act, like donating your time to a local charity.

Above all, treat this time of year like any other month. Put into practice the health and food version of my 80/20 rule: what matters is what you do most of the time, not just some of the time.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland
With holiday travel and busier schedules, it’s easy to lose your workout routine. Don’t give up! Doing a little movement is better than giving up completely. Walking is one the easiest ways to keep exercising during the holidays. All you need are walking shoes, and if it’s chilly outside, a good coat.

If you’re not sleeping on your own bed or end up on long road/plane trips, take the time to stretch your body. Even if you’re not making it to the gym, stretch for 15 minutes as if you were about to workout and see if you can at least loosen stiff muscles and joints.

Focus on having fun! If you live or travel to a cold location, take advantage of the snow by making a snowman or starting a snowball fight with the kids. Or try something new like snowshoeing, ice skating or cross-country skiing. If you escape somewhere warm, go for a long walk on the beach or bring a Frisbee to toss around.

Family Fa La La
Spiritual teacher Ram Dass said it best, “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.” Seeing family during the holidays can bring up a lot of different emotions. More than anything else, you may feel a lot of pressure to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. But old habits and routines can provoke old feelings. So be gentle with yourself and your loved ones.

If you are planning to see family this holiday season, control what you can. If you know your family eats differently than you, offer to bring some healthier dishes to share with everyone. If you are traveling, try to eat meals at regular times and stick to your regular sleep schedule, which will make you more resilient to stress, including emotional stress. And make a game of finding healthy food options or pack healthy snacks.

Keep up your personal time even when spending time with your family. Find an empty room, a balcony or a back porch, and just space out for a few minutes. You can practice breathing slowly or take a journal and write down how you are feeling. Sneak out for a walk by yourself in the afternoon to recharge and refresh yourself.

The Best Way to Spread Holiday Cheer
The best gift you can give yourself and everyone around you is to maintain your sense of balance during the holidays.

Here are my top 3 tips to stay balanced:

1. Be Gentle and Generous with Yourself
Notice any negative self-talk going on in your head. If so, gently stop, replace it with kind language instead, such as, “I don’t have to be perfect,” and offer yourself a smile. Go with the flow more.

2. Get Support
You are not alone; everyone feels pressure to enjoy the holidays. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family members who “get” you. A quick phone call to that someone can do wonders. Also – if financial strain is an issue – plan with your family to put caps on spending for gifts, make donations in someone’s name rather than buying physical presents, or opt for emails instead of sending cards. Create new traditions that work for you and spread the joy.

3. Connect to Your Spirit
Give yourself alone time this holiday season. Spend some time aligning with who you are and what you really want in whatever ways help you feel most connected:  writing, introspection, prayer, yoga, reading, having a cup of tea… Spend the time you need to get anchored and grounded.

And with that, I wish you a truly happy, uplifting holiday season and a happy, healthy, delicious new year!

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You may, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
“Simla Somturk Wickless, MBA, CHC, CNE, is an integrative health, nutrition, and lifestyle coach whose mission is to transform busy bodies into healthy, balanced beings TM. To learn how to zing your energy, tame your stress, and take back control of your health, register for your complimentary monthly eZine at www.enjoydelicioushealth.com.”

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