Wow, can you believe the holidays are almost here?
While thinking about the topic I wanted to discuss in this week’s newsletter, I kept coming back to the stress that we all face this time of year. From time constraints and shopping headaches to holiday feasts and financial worries, everyone is dealing with a huge array of stressors this time of year.
Are you worrying too much right now? Are you so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that you are forgetting to take care of you? If so, don’t feel bad. We all do this. But, there are some things you can do to lessen your stress and make the days between now and the new year “merry and bright”.
As many of you already know, there are three dimensions of health - Psychological, Physical, and Biochemical (Nutrition). Their names are pretty self- explanatory and each of these have a major effect on your overall health. The following are some tips on how to handle holiday stressors in each of these three dimensions:
1. Don’t go shopping during peak hours. Though the sales may be tempting, the added stress of the crowds and rushing to get the items you want can hurt you both emotionally and financially.
2. Make sure you write a list before you go shopping. Plan ahead and know what you need and where you need to go. The less prepared you are, the more frantic and frustrating those shopping trips will be.
3. Doing some of your shopping online will also help. You can skip the long lines and crowded stores and there is often a larger selection available online. Most online stores even allow for shipping directly to the gift recipient as well as gift wrapping!
4. When shopping, be sure you have a budget. Planning out your holiday shopping budget and sticking to it will leave you with less regret in the new year. And don’t forget the holiday meals. Be sure that you include the food and decorations in your budget so you don’t find yourself in a bind after buying all the gifts.
5. When doing wrapping, decorating, cooking, or other holiday preparations light some candles, play some music, and engage the entire family in the activity. Keep things light and festive and you will enjoy the holiday tasks much more.
6. Take more time for yourself and your family. This is the perfect time of year to nurture your most important relationships and, with less work and school, it will be easy to plan family time.
7. Remind yourself often that it is the holidays and it is supposed to be a joyous time. Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy everything. Actively thinking about this will help you to reduce your stress level so you can focus on the truly important things.
1. Don’t forget to workout! I know you have a busy schedule and a ton of things to get done but, this is a must. Working out can relieve stress and put you in the right frame of mind to deal with everything that comes up during the day.
2. Be sure you schedule your workout into your day. You are less likely to skip it (especially if you schedule it for first thing in the morning) and the simple idea of having at least one scheduled thing that you have complete control over will be a welcome structure to what may otherwise be a hectic day.
3. If you are visiting family and are unable to get to a gym, schedule a daily walk. Take a different route each day if possible just to change it up a bit. It is a great way to take in some new sights if you’ve never been there before or, to reacquaint yourself with the surroundings if you are going “home”. Relive old memories or make some new ones while taking care of your body and your mind!
Biochemical (Nutritional) Dimension:
1. Always eat something before you leave home. A healthy meal or light snack will keep you from being hungry while you are running your errands and you won’t be so tempted to stop for that burger and fries.
2. Pick certain meals during which you will treat yourself and give yourself permission to enjoy it without guilt. Portions are the real enemy during the holidays, not the foods themselves. You can eat a little of everything you want and still maintain your health.
3. When choosing your foods – eat more vegetables and lean meats such as turkey and chicken. Putting more of these on your plate will help to fill you up and the smaller portions of higher calorie and more dense foods such as pastas and breads will satisfy your desires for them.
4. If you are attending a potluck dinner, offer to prepare and bring a healthy dish. Even if all of the other foods there are bad, you know you will have at least one item that is good for you. Plus you’ll have the added benefit of knowing that you are contributing to the health of everyone else who eats it!
5. Get the junk out of the house as quickly as possible. Allowing these foods to sit around will put you under a lot of pressure. The temptation will often be too much. Send the leftovers home with guests or store it in a separate storage freezer/refrigerator.
6. Go easy on the sweets. You don’t have to abstain from them completely, just watch your portions. If Aunt Sue makes the best sugar pie in the world, there’s no reason for you to miss out while everyone else enjoys it. Take a smaller than normal slice and enjoy!
7. Another big health enemy during the holidays is alcohol. Most alcoholic drinks are filled with empty calories and can quickly undo all of your hard work (eggnog anyone?). Plan to have a single drink or glass of wine at any event and you won’t feel like you are missing out on anything.
8. Keep a diary of what you are eating. This creates accountability and will often cause you to eat less. Don’t beat yourself up if you do get off track. During the holidays we all tend to overeat and partake of the wrong things. 9. If you fall off the wagon, just dust yourself off and climb back on the next day. Get right back into your normal healthy habits and forget the day before. There’s no need to dwell on it and stress out. It happens to all of us!
My last tip can be applied to any of the three dimensions of health. Set aside some time for setting your 2012 goals. Whether they are geared toward your psychological, physical, biochemical or any combination of the three, it is important to begin this process before the new year. This way you will be ready to hit the road running and you won’t have to spend the first week of the new year focused on your Wellness Plan.
I personally use Tony Robbins’ goal setting CD to prep for the new year. I listen to it at the end of every year and he walks me through the goal setting process. The hour and a half program helps me get a perspective on the next twelve months and allows me to start it off prepared. Do you have a goal setting strategy that you use every year? Are you trying out a new one this year? If the answer to either of those is yes, please share it with me in the comments. I would love to hear what tools work best for you!