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So many articles about the holidays talk about surviving the holidays. My wish for you (and myself) is thriving, not just surviving, throughout the holiday season.
The holidays create perfect conditions for a craptastic shitstorm of awfulness. Tight budgets, family gatherings, loneliness, stress, cold weather, shorter days, sicknesses, traffic, sweet treats and rich foods everywhere….
Fear not! We hold a lot of power in our choices; we can avoid much of this awfulness!
Care for your body
A definite way to avoid some of those “holiday blahs” is sticking to your normal routine for balanced nutrition and regular exercise. This is especially important if you have a chronic illness that flares due to inactivity or overindulging.
Limiting your intake of sugar, simple carbs, and alcohol will help tremendously, but also pay special attention to foods that you know make you feel bad.
Limit your portion size of those things, or skip them altogether! Having a second piece of your aunt’s pecan pie when you know that your body doesn’t like the ingredients is just not worth it. Have a reasonable serving, and then you can look forward to having it again next year.
If you know that your body will regret sitting in a lump at your holiday gatherings, have a plan to stay in motion. Playing an active game, a short family walk, or even just setting a timer so that you get up and walk occasionally will make a difference.
I know your schedule is packed, but do everything you can throughout the holiday season to carve out time for self-care in the form of movement for your body. A brief walk to start your morning, yoga at lunch, or a trip to the gym after work will pay dividends during this crazy season due to exercise’s positive impact on our psyche and immune system.
Care for your mental health
Speaking of our psyche, are the holidays are hard for you emotionally?
I get stressed and anxious thinking of everything that needs to be done, money, and obligations. It’s also a busy time of year due to my husband’s work schedule.
Want to know a secret? I used to HATE Christmas and other holidays. I still struggle with this and am working on it as I create new memories with my kids.
Growing up in the family that I did, holidays, especially Christmas, were bittersweet. Holidays meant extra yelling and shaming. It meant pretending to be a happy, normal family at church and family gatherings. There are some Christmas songs that I still can’t listen to and holidays foods that I can’t make or even see without feeling sick and anxious.
Perhaps you still have difficult family members in your life that make the holidays less-than-joyful.
Choose how you budget your emotional energy. Maybe this means declining an invite or coming up with a plan to limit how long you are around them. You have the right to set boundaries to preserve your emotional health!
Do you always feel bluer than normal around the holidays, no matter how good things are going? It might be SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called seasonal depression. There are many ways you can ease the symptoms, including light therapy, herbal products, medication, exercise, and vitamin D supplements.
Enjoy what you can
Lastly, don’t fixate on what you can’t do. Embrace the joy you can choose to find in what you CAN do.
Comparing yourself to others (even if that “other person” is a past version of yourself) will only put you in a funk.
Be proud of what you can do in spite of your challenges. Things don’t have to be perfect to be good. You don’t have to make a fancy meal, have your house decked out with decorations, go to every event, or bake cookies for everyone.
I wish you a joyful holiday season in which you THRIVE!
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