Healthy Holiday Survival Guide

Healthy Holiday Survival Guide

Holidays are a busy and exciting time of year. Travel, family gatherings, and festive events can all be exciting, but the added demands and pressures that come with this time of year can cause significant additional stress and zap energy! Make it your goal this holiday season to still enjoy everything to the fullest without making yourself exhausted and totally spent.  Here are some strategies to enjoy the holiday season while staying calm, grounded, and energized.

Avoid Over-Booking Yourself

The winter months are naturally a time of year meant for rest, hibernation, restoration, and recovery. In traditional Chinese medicine, winter is the most “yin” time of year. Yin is related to cooler temperatures, less daylight, a slower pace, and inward energy.  It’s almost as if time has built in a place for us to rest and recharge for the coming new year. Due to this, know what’s realistic for your personal bandwidth of energy and set realistic plans and boundaries. Prioritize activities that bring you the most joy and opt out of those that drain your energy.  Also, don’t be nervous to say “no,” and decline invitations.  It’s important to set boundaries for yourself and know what your schedule and mental health allows for and go from there.  Don’t compare yourself to others either, just because someone you know seems to have boundless energy for countless holiday parties, it doesn’t mean that you need to as well.    

Limit Judgement

Holidays can come with an array of expectations, which can pave the way to self-criticism. Try to not let cultural pressures affect your behaviors, and limit any negative judgement towards yourself that may come up around holiday activities.  This can be especially true for those of us with children.  For example, we may see other parents on social media making perfect cookies with well-dressed, well-behaved kids and wonder why we can’t achieve that aesthetic, but just remember the short Instagram stories are not reality and we don’t know what else is behind the curtain in the lives of other people.  Mostly we should just aim to live in the moment and enjoy the holidays as we can.  

Place Additional Emphasis on Calming Strategies

The added stress that bubbles up around the holidays requires additional dedicated relaxation time centered on calming the nervous system and remaining grounded. During times of peak stress try to create additional space for self-care activities, even if time is limited.  This can involve exercise, taking a hot bath or sitting in a quiet room and meditating.  Self-care is important all year-round but especially at the holidays it is important to listen to what your body and mental health need for well-being.   

Eat Wisely

Many of us are fortunate enough to indulge in additional food this time of year. Temptation to over-eat unhealthy food is heightened by the increased availability of holiday treats combined with managing extra stress. If this happens, avoid negative self-talk, and instead focus on grounding yourself and clarifying what you actually need in that moment. When indulging, try to choose foods that are genuinely rewarding and satisfying, and avoid overly processed options.  If there are special treats you only get once a year, feel free to indulge but be sure to eat some more nourishing food later on so your body receives the nutrition it needs.  

Enjoy the Special Moments

Holidays can mean bringing together a group of people whom you don’t often see, like extended family or friends from out of state.  If you’re spending time with people you don’t see regularly, take time to enjoy their company.  Actually sit down and be present with them. Conjure an appreciation for moments that spontaneously unfold, while living outside of the usual weekly routine.  On the opposite side, if large groups of people are not enjoyable for you, try to compromise by only staying at a gathering for a short time because there are probably many people who will be happy to see you made the effort to visit!