The holidays are coming! There are usually lots of opportunities to gather, see friends and family, eat great food, and generally celebrate. However, the holidays can also bring on added stress and grief if we lose sight of our goals and get swept up in the many demands that come our way. Navigating through this season can be tough. Here are some steps to help you maintain a sense of balance and hopefully have more space for delight and joy,
This is a season for eating. There are special meals, extravagant desserts, and lots of snack foods to enjoy. The downside is that it is not uncommon for people to gain 5 or even 10 pounds during the holidays. If you are concerned about your weight, here are some ways to avoid the gift of extra weight this season.
- Plan what you want to eat before you get to the food. Think about what foods really appeal to you, and how much you want to have. It might even help to tell your partner or companion what you are planning to eat.
- Eat slowly. Take the time to really savor each bite. Pay attention to the colors, textures, and aromas that make foods special.
- Concentrate on conversation. If you are at a party or similar event, allow yourself to indulge in the company of others. Take the opportunity to get to know someone new. Introduce yourself and perhaps make a new friend or rekindle an old friendship. When you are having a good time, you might not be so tempted to overeat.
- Alcohol has a lot of calories and carbohydrates. Try alternatives like juice or sparkling water. Put good things into your body as often as possible.
- Keep exercising through the holidays. Exercise burns calories, helps you release stress and bring oxygen into your body. Make your self-care a priority, even during this busy time..
For many of us, this is a gift giving season. If your family traditions include gifts during the season, these ideas can help.
- Talk with your partner about what you both want to spend and can afford to spend this season. Gift buying is easier to manage when you start with your goal in mind.
- Recognize that advertisers and the media really want you to spend – that is their goal. If you have children, you can use the media blitz as an opportunity to teach them about media pressure. You can make a game out of identifying what the commercials are telling you to buy or do. Older kids can identify what advertisers are promising you with their product (happiness, love, etc).
- In some families, there is a myth that the size or cost of a gift represents how much you love the person you are gifting. This can be a trap for over-spending. If you recognize this in yourself, or in your family, perhaps you can begin to think about gifts as tokens of affection rather than symbols of how much a person means to us. If you think about it, we can’t ever really give someone a gift that is equal to our love for them. A gift is a chance to say, “I am thinking about you and celebrating our relationship.” This is a good time to celebrate the gifts we give daily: love, kindness, compassion, and laughter.
Some people have great relationships with their families and cannot wait to get together for the holidays. For others, families are both a source of joy and stress. Navigating the family demands during the holidays can be tricky. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Begin by talking with your partner about what the holidays mean to each of you. What are your own desires and expectations? What foods or activities are really important and which ones don’t mean so much? In answering these questions, you begin to get a vision of how you two would like to spend the holidays. With this understanding and vision in mind, you can make better decisions with regards to family expectations.
- If your family always gets into arguments during the holidays, there is every reason to expect arguing this year too. It is easy to get caught up in wishing that the family were different, or somehow better, or… This wishing is OK, but it can ruin our holidays if we are focusing on the ways people don’t measure up. Recognize (and maybe say out loud) that no family is perfect. You might try saying to yourself, “Yes, that is how Grandpa always is” or even sigh with relief that you have moved out of the dysfunction and now are only a visitor.
- Plan some time for you and your partner to be alone. Actually schedule it on the calendar. Get a babysitter and take time for yourselves. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to see all the family members or attend all the parties and forget to nurture ourselves. Check in with each other, enjoy each other and celebrate the life you are building together.
Here is a wish for you and your family to have safe and happy holidays.