Healthy Hectic Holidays

Can they co-exist?
Written by Jenn Giamo

 
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So it begins…the season of office parties, family obligations, friends visiting from out of town…the holidays are upon us. It can be overwhelming to say the least. How do we manage in the midst of all the chaos? Aside from hiding under the bed and waiting for spring, we must face it head on, with our heads ON. Planning is the key to making the holidays run smoothly. Here are a few simple tips to help ease some of the stress of the season.

 

1. SCHEDULING

I find that making a list, prioritizing and then delegating appropriately, truly helps one to stay sane. Although you may be somewhat of a control-freak like me, people really do want to help and you should let them. Also, try not to over-commit. No one likes to disappoint but you cannot do everything. Pick and choose your invitations and your stress level will dramatically decrease! Speaking of stress…

2. EXPECTATIONS

Whether it’s family pressure, gift giving or other obligations, be realistic with yourself. If you know that over-spending during the holidays is a source of stress for you, then set a budget. Get creative with holiday gifts -— think “thoughtful” not “expensive”. Try not to run up credit cards either. Paying with cash (remember that green paper stuff)? or with a debit card is the best way to avoid the added stress of a bill at the end of the month. Set boundaries with family or friends. Instead of an entire weekend with your Aunt Betty, make it a day trip. Decide what you enjoy most and make time for that. Instead of big gatherings, meet up with friends for a drink or coffee to catch up. You may save yourself from over-indulging on unhealthy food too. Speaking of…

3. DIET

I get it. There are tempting foods everywhere you look during the holidays. Do you have to try ALL of them? Pick your favorite and leave the rest. We tend to get into the mindset that holiday foods are “special” and in limited quantities so we MUST eat them all between November and January. Who says you can’t make your mom’s famous stuffing in April? If you eliminate the pressure to eat “holiday” food during the holidays, you may not overeat. I’m not saying you have to deprive yourself either. Just be mindful. And be aware of inactivity…

4. EXERCISE

You’re too busy to fit that workout in? What are you doing when your apple pie is baking in the oven? I’m sure you can pop on a 15 minute exercise video or lunge around your kitchen. Just move. Fitting in a few minutes throughout the day is better than nothing. It may even help you stay sane…

5. MENTAL HEALTH

Many people find themselves depressed during the holidays. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or gotten a divorce. Not everyone is happy this time of year. Holidays often evoke memories of happier times spent with those who are no longer in our lives; a recalling of the way things “used to be”. This is the opportunity to create new memories. Start a new tradition that represents what you want your future holidays to look like. Spending time with supportive people is also important. Loneliness can make the holiday season seem well, lonely. Find reasons to celebrate!

6. IMMUNE SYSTEM

Sometimes you can’t escape cold & flu season but you can take some precautions. I never leave home without my hand sanitizer! SO many germs are transmitted via touch and as a personal trainer, I am touching people all. day. long. Airborne is also my best friend anytime I am traveling or feel a cold coming on. The vitamins and minerals in those little tablets work wonders! Staying HECTIC & HEALTHY HOLIDAYS 2 hydrated is really important too. Drinking water (about half your body weight in ounces) is what I recommend as it helps keep your cells from getting dehydrated, flushes out toxins and improves muscle and joint function. Added stress can also wreak havoc on your immune system. Hormone levels like cortisol increase and lack of sleep will make you more susceptible to illness.

7. SELF-CARE

It is the season for giving but if you don’t take care of yourself, how can be helpful to others? Remember that YOU are still a priority. Your physical, mental and emotional health need attention the most during stressful times. Ease the pressure that overwhelms you this time of year by giving yourself a break. Get a 10-minute massage while you’re shopping at the mall or just sit with a delicious cup of hot chocolate and a few deep breaths.

 

The bottom line to surviving the holidays rests in your choices. You have the power to decide how you want to feel, what you want to do and who you want to spend time with (for the most part). The stress only overwhelms you when you let it. Sure, life will happen around you and it can seem chaotic, but how you react to it is up to you. By employing some of the tips outlined here, you’ll be on your way to a healthy (albeit, still hectic) holiday season!

Amanda Gay