How did that title make you feel? Excited? Anxious? Depressed? Nostalgic? Hungry? A little bit of everything?
I hear that.
When you prepare for the holidays, yes, the prep checklist we have in our minds (or, if you're like me, written in my paper planner, scribbled on my wall calendar, and saved as a digital note on my phone) is important, but so is the checklist we need to make for our own health and wellbeing over the holidays. Whether the holiday season brings you extreme joy, crushing sadness, maddening stress, or some combo of the above, any sort of extreme is not conducive to our health. What can we do to manage (not control) the highs and lows of our holidays? Here are a few of my favorite ways to help keep the holidays happy:
Set boundaries. That nosy cousin who always asks about your love life. Your mom estimating how many pounds you've gained. Your partner expecting you to do all of the cooking. A friend pressuring you to have "just one more glass" of wine. We can be taken advantage of in many forms, and, sadly, a lot of us just sort of expect it to happen or feel that it comes with the territory of the holiday season. You have the power to end that this year. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will most likely be a hundred times more comfortable not enduring the annual abuse.
Eat mindfully. There are so many tasty flavors to savor during holiday celebrations; why not experience them with all five of your senses? This article from Harvard's T. H. Chan School of Public Health expertly describes the origins, practice, and benefits of mindful eating, which can help reduce depression, fasting blood sugar, and overeating. If you tend to go overboard and feel sick or regretful, this is the strategy to practice. If you're more the type to be so busy or stressed you
Give yourself some grace. Did you snap at a relative? Maybe you burned your side dish or forgot to bring the host a gift. Perhaps you even ate *gasp* TWO slices of pie! Whatever your transgression, large or small, forgive yourself and move on. Everyone else will most likely follow suit (or not even mind as much as you think they do to begin with). The holidays can be stressful for everyone-you're not alone!
Pause. Find small moments throughout an event (like a dinner, board game, or visit with family or friends) to take in the moment, practice some gratitude, or recognize the memories that are being made. These moments are the best time to breathe (literally and figuratively)!
Treat yourself. This does not have to be in the form of food! It can be anything from a long, luxurious bath to throwing a little something in the cart for yourself when you're shopping for your family's gifts. An act as simple as setting aside an entire hour (or day) to just do absolutely nothing can be the best reward of all.
Serve. Not just festive realness (though that's always welcome)! Giving your time, talents, or other resources to help those who need it is an excellent idea year-round, but seems to be multiplied exponentially during the holidays. Not only are you helping someone out, you get the bonus of an amazing feeling of fulfillment in return. Plus, it's a chance to shift the focus outside of yourself and your worries for a change.
Whatever and however you're celebrating as we wrap up this year, remember to be kind. To yourself, to your loved ones, to strangers. If you'd like help navigating the holidays (even if that means you just need a great recipe), don't hesitate to contact me! Wishing you and your loved ones the best.