It’s that time of year again! Time to Deck the Halls and trim the tree, time to shop for and wrap the perfectly chosen gifts, time to bake the cookies and entertain the masses, all while making it look perfectly stress-free and effortless. It doesn’t matter that you work all day or that Martha Stewart has a paid staff, you just want everything to go smoothly for once!
It’s still early, but you’re not letting the holiday season get to you, are you? NO! At least, not yet! Of course, you haven’t seen your family (c’mon admit it, there’s always that one family member) for the umpteenth time in a month, or seen yet another FB post of a dear friend with her Pinterest-worthy decorations blowing up your newsfeed. With all that you have going on though, it’s easy to forget what the season is really about and let the anxiety, stress of wanting everything to be perfect overwhelm you. Then comes depression, frustration, and disappointment that seems to follow, along with the inevitable feelings laziness and the overeating. How are you SUPPOSED to cope?
I have been there! I have had my own holiday craziness to deal with and I had to learn how to cope myself. While you can’t control the chaos around you, you can choose how you respond to it! I have learned to use methods that help me and wanted to share those specific to make your life a little bit easier around the holidays.
- Choosing healthier options more often
Healthy eating goes beyond weight loss. Choosing healthier options more frequently can help cut down on binge eating, maintain your energy levels and help reduce stress and anxiety. Healthy eating also promotes long-term health and maintaining a healthier weight. The more often you make better choices, the better you’ll feel. Notice that I didn’t say you have to eat “perfectly”, or that you can’t have pie? You’re an adult, you can eat whatever you want! By choosing healthier options more often, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, you ensure that your behaviors are in line with your goals. Healthy eating also helps with the negative effects stress has on your body. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in nuts and fish and complex carbohydrates, such as beans and whole grain bread provide vitamins and essential minerals, to keep your immune function at its best and help mitigate the times when you make less-than-ideal choices.
Take time to get focused. Practice your faith or meditate. Do whatever it is that you do to get centered, but make sure that you make it a priority. Giving yourself the opportunity to get centered with reflection can help you maintain a lower blood pressure or release stress and experience a more balanced life. These practices are widely known to help individuals become more focused and cope better with emotional ups and downs. The benefits of some types of reflection give you perspective and can give you an internal happiness. They also naturally get your serotonin and dopamine, which are natural feel-good hormones, flowing. The goal is to focus the mind on calming and quietness. I focus my mind on listening to music and relaxing my mind. If prayer or meditation isn’t your thing, journaling is another way to relieve stress and get perspective, so that you not only enjoy the holiday season but reduce your drive to eat as a way to cope with negative feelings.
Exercise is one of the Six Pillars of Health that I teach my private coaching clients. You don’t have to do it every single day. You don’t have to be religious about it. You don’t even have to do what everyone else is doing! In order for exercise to be most effective for weight loss, it should be consistent and be challenging, but exercise is also a great way to reduce or relieve stress. Make consistent efforts throughout the week to get out and enjoy the fresh air: go for a hike or a walk, or if the weather is bad, stretch and move your body! (Yes, I’m talking about those feel-good hormones again)! Take advantage of these neurotransmitters and make yourself feel TWICE as good!
- Time to Yourself
Paying attention to yourself, whether you’re a businesswoman or working Mom, is important! Making the commitment to give to yourself daily, can feel selfish or uncomfortable at first, but it’s necessary for all human beings–particularly women. Giving time and attention to yourself–making self-care a daily practice– reminds me that I am important and that I am worth being taken care of. I can better take care of my family because I have a solid foundation for my own well being. I show myself love by making time for lunch with a good friend, a nice long soak in the tub or walks on the beach, I also find serenity in disconnecting from television and social media and reading or doing yoga. Another favorite self-care method I have is getting a massage or pedicure, but doing something as simple as reading a book or taking a walk can be just as beneficial. Just make sure that you show yourself the love you so definitely deserve.
- Set boundaries
Some people have more anxiety revolving around family or family dynamics, so if this pertains to you, just be reassured that it’s normal. No one’s family is perfect! With competing personalities and conflicting wants and needs, it can be stressful trying to navigate the holidays–especially if you’re a people-pleaser or peacekeeper! Setting boundaries with family and friends are healthy. It shows a healthy mental state. Don’t be afraid to state your boundaries firmly and don’t be afraid to say, “NO!”. Be sure that you use clear terms and ask the person you’re speaking to share with you, in their own words, what you’ve communicated. This way you can make sure you’re on the same page. Sticking to facts reduces emotion involved. You have every right to make this holiday season more enjoyable for yourself this year and setting healthy firm boundaries are a good way to ensure a jolly time this holiday season.
If you find yourself chewing your nails, feeling like you’re on stress overload, or eating your emotions, take a moment to pause and reflect on what is at the root of those behaviors. If being around your family is a trigger for you, play out “ideal” scenarios in your mind, before heading over to the in-law’s house. Using these methods to reduce your holiday stress will help you to focus on celebrating the holidays and what matters most.
Founder and Creator of Fitness MOMents® LLC
Trish Marmo is on a one-woman mission to help busy women over 40 “wake up” to being their best selves and reclaim their health and fitness! If you’ve woken up to the fact that what you’ve been doing isn’t working any more, or you don’t recognize the person you see staring back at you in the mirror, then let’s talk! Schedule a Breakthrough Session here or learn more about how I can help you here!