The holidays are just around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, this could make you feel a little bit stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
There are so many gifts to be purchased, parties to plan, schedules to coordinate, and little details to think about.
Plus, it might seem like a definite diet-buster, right?
The truth is that the holidays don’t have to be super stressful, and there are plenty of smart ways to dodge packing on the pounds this holiday season.
It all begins with having a plan in place (that includes healthy holiday tips) to protect you from sneaky calorie traps and stress binges.
Healthy holidays are very possible when you have these healthy holiday tips in your arsenal. In fact, you can banish holiday stress when you have the right frame of mind and know how you are going to manage your expectations regarding food, family time, sleep, exercise, and meal prepping.
DON’T DO THESE
Let’s start with the things that you DON’T want to do. It might seem counterintuitive but you do not want to skip a meal with the goal of being able to indulge on the next meal.
Don’t skip meals
For example, thinking that you should SKIP breakfast because you have a holiday lunch event a few hours later could backfire and lead to overindulging due to more intense hunger. You could end up eating WAY MORE than you would have if you had a balanced breakfast. And who needs EXTRA calories, right?! So you see, the key here is balance.
Watch salt intake
Don’t go overboard with sodium. Sodium (or salt) is a sneaky devil that lurks in many of our favorite foods and causes excess bloating. The recommended daily sodium intake is no more than 1500 mg per day for most adults (according to the American Heart Association). Sadly, there are many foods, like boxed pasta or mac and cheese, that can contain that much salt in a single serving!
Some other foods that tend to pack lots of sodium are bread, rolls, canned soups, and poultry. Always check the nutrition panel before eating your favorite foods!
This one might seem obvious but it is worth saying: You don’t want to skip exercising during the holidays.
Exercise, even in simple forms (like going for a light walk or jog), can actually help lessen holiday stress.
That is because exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make us feel good! When we feel good, we are able to think clearly and deal with things more easily. Awesome, right?! You should aim for 30 minutes to an hour per day, or 7+ hours per week, in total.
You’re probably wondering, “So what should I do to combat holiday stress?”
There are a lot of important things you should do for managing holiday stress.
The first is to look at holiday stress as preventable. Remember that you are in control of your emotions and how you respond to everything, and take back your power! You chose this health journey and you can choose to have healthy responses, as well!
Create a schedule
Next, you will want to plan out your time for relaxation and time for exercise in advance. That way, you cannot make excuses if you feel overwhelmed or don’t want to sweat off those extra calories.
Having a cute planner and using stickers and colored pens or pencils is a fun way to make scheduling enjoyable and relaxing. You can color-code each activity, like GREEN for exercise time or RED for party times. You might even start looking forward to it!
Set clear expectations
If you don’t mind going to extremes (this is so me!), you can decide in advance that you are NOT going to do or eat certain things before the holidays.
For example, I make hard rules that I will totally abstain from alcohol, weighing myself, fatty cheese/dairy, desserts, cookies, candies, starchy foods, and finally, from making excuses.
If you don’t want to be extreme, you can set an amount to moderate yourself with your favorite foods or beverages and make sure that you have a friend or partner to help you stay accountable.
For example, ask your husband to remind you that you agreed to only have one piece (or even one half) of a dessert per holiday party. This will also help you manage holiday stress about gaining weight.
Do make sure that you are drinking plenty of water every single day. I like to take my LadyBoss® half-gallon carry jug around with me with the goal of finishing it two times by the end of the day. You should aim for drinking one gallon of water per day, too!
It is also important to make time for healthy snacks! My favorite healthy snack to carry everywhere with me is plain, unroasted, unsalted almonds. They are a great source of protein and very convenient to take with you! Healthy snacks will help you keep a balanced diet and prevent extreme hunger and binging.
Avoid stressful situations
My next tip for you is to remove yourself from situations that would normally induce stress. For example, if you know that going to a certain event is unpleasant, see if it is absolutely crucial for you to go.
Would your mother-in-law truly be angry if you didn’t go pillow shopping with her on Black Friday?! After all, it may sound selfish but sometimes you do need to weigh whether your mental sanity is worth compromising. Maybe you could take that block of time and do a yoga class, instead!
Get enough sleep
Finally, the tip that helps me the most during the holidays is to practice sleep sanitation before bed. This means eliminating noise and bright lights about 30 minutes before bed, putting the cell phone and Kindle away at the same time, putting on a nice lavender aroma diffuser, and turning on some relaxing waterfall sounds or playing a sleep meditation track from YouTube.
I love to take my LadyBoss® Rest right before bed, too. It helps me fall asleep faster, and get deeper sleep naturally, without any harmful effects or dependency. I promise you will love it as much as I do!
Enjoy the holidays
Considering printing this out or jot down some notes to post for yourself in a visible place.
Remember, you can prevent or at least reduce stress. The goal of the holidays is to enjoy yourself and spend time peacefully with friends and family.