Updated: Nov 1, 2018
The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming!
With Halloween, and all of it’s devilishly delicious treats, quickly approaching; I’ve been thinking about the holiday season as a whole, and how easy it is to become overwhelmed by it all by the end of the year.
The closeout of a year can often create a stress response, when December 31st is considered the end and January 1st is supposedly shiny and new. There have been so many times that I’ve worried about meeting all of my goals, picking new ones, and squeezing in all of the parties and celebrations that come from the end of October through to the end of the year.
Not. This. Year.
Long ago, I gave up “resolutions”. The brutal, grey winters in Buffalo left my energy drained, which I found to be a less than optimal time to go full steam ahead into new goals.
Through experience, I’ve gotten so much better at saying, “No, Thank You.” to invitations when my schedule is already packed.
Even though the holidays can be draining, and there have been times where I thought hiding on a remote island would be a better idea than trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of unrealistic expectations, they can still be a joyous time with friends and family.
So, let’s consider a few of the triggers than can drive the otherwise jolly season right into the gutter if we’re not being #mindful.
1. So. Many. Parties. Just thinking about them already has me tired. Inevitably there will be parties. Some may be “forced fun” for work gatherings, while others may be that perfect balance of chilling with a drink of your choice and listening to some good music, with even better company. But, before you go through those invitations, schedule time for yourself. When are you going to get movement in during the day? Do you have a big party that you’re looking forward to and don’t want to show up to your trainer hungover the next day? Prioritize your time and decline invitations that you just can’t fit into your schedule (or just don’t want to - this is an oft forgotten option).
2. So much FOOD. I love snacks. You love snacks. Everyone loves SNACKS, and any decent party is going to have food. I’m not saying your party isn’t awesome if you don’t serve food, but seriously, don’t deny this girl a cheese platter. Full disclosure; I have limited self-control when it comes to food at parties. Mostly because if I’m eating something, I can’t really talk and sometimes talking is scary. Instead of feeling completely bloated and alone with all of the cheese, here are a few ways to eat responsibly at parties:
-Socialize. Find a new friend or someone who will make some sort of small talk about anything, even if you hate small talk.
-Bring a healthy dish that you know you’ll be able to enjoy. (If you email or call me, I’ll tell you about the time I tried to make a “healthy” birthday cake.
-Stand with your back to the food table, but preferably a minimum of 10 feet away so you don’t look like the food’s security guard.
-And if you choose to indulge, do so without guilt. Seriously, just eat it.
3. So many gifts. Between holiday gifts for friends and family to hostess gifts to charitable donations. The holiday season can crush not only our physical and emotional health, but our financial health can take a hit as well. Set a budget and plan accordingly. Say NO, when you want to OR when you need to. Trust me, you’ll know the difference. Don’t overstretch your budget or you’ll create undue stress on yourself. When we’re stressed, eventually it affects all aspects of our lives.
4. So much travel. Whether it’s a road trip, a train ride, or jet-setting; travel affects the amount of movement that we get in during the day. Plan to get movement into your day:
-Walk during those long layovers.
-Stretch your body at rest areas. Here’s a great sequence to try between flights or at rest areas:
Hip Hinge to Forward Fold - hold onto your elbows to help pull your body deeper into the stretch; shake head slowly yes and no to release tension from the neck.
Reach arms overhead and slightly lean from the left to the right.
Lunges with Rotational Twist to front leg
Arm Circles - both forward and backward
Calf Stretch - on curb or wall
Walk for 2-5 minutes
-Try a bodyweight workout:
Do each exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Rest for 2 minutes between rounds. Repeat for 4-6 rounds.
Wall Sit (squeeze every damn muscle)
This holiday season, I’m going to challenge you to give yourself a break. During the fall and winter, the days get shorter and our energy may not be what it was during the summer months when we had so much more daylight. So take it easy on yourself.
As for me, for the remainder of 2018, my intentions are to:
1. Get quality sleep. For me, this means 7-8 hours each night with a consistent bedtime and wake time. Each night, as part of my nightly routine, I will do “legs up the wall” and meditate for ten minutes. Also, I am working on getting off my phone sooner in the evening - the new iPhone update helps by setting limits on your screen time (Thanks, Apple.) In the mornings, reading and drinking water, then coffee are my priorities. Checking my phone doesn’t happen until after the first hour of being awake.
2. Move every day. Like many of us, my energy plummets in the fall and winter. It would be easy for me to hibernate like a bear...you know, if bears slept under blankets on a couch and watching Friends reruns while eating cheese. Clearly that’s not the most effective way to tolerate shorter days. So, instead of brown bearing it, my body is going to move for at least thirty minutes every day. That movement may be in the form for boxing, strength training, or even something as simple as a walk with a friend.
3. Stay in the present. It would be easy to get wrapped up in twinkly lights and cry about everything that didn’t get done in 2018. Instead, I’m planning to use my meditation practice to help keep me grounded in the present. Practicing gratitude will also help me live in the present moment without fretting over every goal I didn’t meet.
4. Be organized. Currently, I’ve been using my Google calendar to keep my life in order. But when I have a lot of things going on, I find writing these things down where I can readily access them is beneficial to keep my mind clear, helps me sleep better in the evenings, and reminds me to decline invitations that will put me out of balance.
How are you going to survive the holidays this year? What intentions are you setting to keep yourself calm and peaceful throughout the remainder of 2018? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!