We all have holiday triggers; they can’t be avoided. How you respond to them, and whether you let them derail your health and well-being is up to you.
When we were little, we wanted to be adults and do grown-up things. As adults, we realize that “Adulting” is not always fun or easy… especially when the holidays roll around and we’re faced with annual challenges that have more-or-less been the same since we were kids. The good news is that this year doesn’t have to be the same as last year!
Facing Holiday Triggers Like a Big Person 101
1. Know Yourself; Know the Players
There’s always someone who sends you diving into the chocolate martinis. Perhaps it’s a “know it all” cousin, who judges your eating plan, or the nosy aunt, who asks your boyfriend when he’s going to finally propose. Or maybe… it’s you. Do you struggle with feelings of inadequacy when grouped with friends and relatives who have what you perceive to be a “better” situation (job, spouse, possessions, children who wear nice clothes without crying)? Time to step into your “inner adult” — make a mental – or physical – list of these pushers ahead of time, and how you plan to respond to them when it happens again this year. Remind yourself again and again that food is fuel, not therapy. There is no answer to kooky family members who drive you bonkers at the bottom of a tin of peppermint bark.
2. Have a Game Plan
As we at Eighty say to all our clients, planning a good offense is your best defense! Be selective… you don’t need to go to every party. But seriously, if you actually DO need to accept every social invitation, decide where you will indulge and where you will abstain. Not every party is going to have the most spectacular food that you cannot pass up because you’re never going to have it again. If you’re the type of person who loses food inhibitions with alcohol, be especially careful about how much you drink.
3. Eat Healthy Meals In-Between, When You Can
You’re allowed to indulge in a meal whenever you want. (That’s one of the good parts about being an adult.) That doesn’t mean you always should. A holiday party lasts for a few hours, not twenty-four. If you know that you’re going to eat a lot at an event, eat a few lighter protein and good fat meals throughout the day. Eating proteins and fats will keep you fuller for longer. Eating is a must for a healthy body, healthy mind, and balanced blood sugar… do not skip meals! Sometimes you’re traveling and it’s not always possible to eat the type of meal you’d make in your own kitchen. Do the best you can. Cobble a meal together with veggies, fruits, nuts, olives, meats, if they’re available. And drink water. Always drink water!
4. Get Your Workouts In
Exercise is good for creating the calorie deficit you want, so you can indulge without packing on the pounds. It’s also important for your mental state! If you are stressed, go and work up a sweat, whether in your basement, at the gym, or at someone else’s. If you’re traveling, many hotels have gym facilities, and many fitness facilities have drop-in rates or will extend guest passes. Do a search of all the fitness facilities in the area where you’ll be visiting and make a list of activities that appeal to you. If nothing else, plug in your earbuds and go for a long walk. Sometimes, all you need to relax is a little space from the people you love most.
5. Settle in for a Long Winter’s Nap
Sleep is important… even more so when you’re under stress. Try to get seven or eight hours of sleep per night (six minimum). If you have to wait to accomplish holiday tasks until your family members are asleep, try to parse out your time so that you aren’t pulling all-nighters. Allot one extra hour per night for holiday preparations (online shopping, addressing cards, wrapping gifts, baking cookies) so that you can get to bed at a decent hour and let your body rest and restore.
6. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
When you’re feeling stressed, it is helpful to focus on the things you’re grateful for. We often overlook our blessings in times of tension. The holidays, while joyful, bring myriad stresses to the surface (family members, gift lists, events to attend, last minute gifts on the credit card, credit card bills to pay). Keep in mind that there is always someone worse-off than you. There are people without families, families living with illness, parents who can’t afford to buy presents – or even food – for their own children. If you have nothing else but your health, that’s more than some people have.
7. Pay it Forward
This directly follows #5. It can make you feel really good about yourself to give to others at holiday time. We can become so focused with consumerism that we overlook the actual meaning of the holidays we celebrate. Do something for someone. Visit an elderly neighbor. Adopt a family at your church. Volunteer at a food bank. Buy someone a coffee. It’s not about the cost of the gesture, it’s about the gesture itself. (Side note: Eighty donates a percentage of all profits to organizations dedicated to fighting childhood hunger. If you need ideas, we have a list of very worthy organizations!)
Happy Everything, Everyone!