The Mental Game of Holiday Health

The Mental Game of Holiday Health

A little holiday cheer is in order. With the “new normal” economy (did we used to work this hard?) and the stress it brings along, the holidays haven’t come a day too soon. Sweet distraction!
Navigating the holidays while keeping your healthy lifestyle intact takes planning (of the mental and physical kind), and a compassionate mindset toward your own self-care. Be realistic: aim for maintaining your current weight rather than losing through the holidays, and emphasize the fun side of health whenever it’s available – which is quite a bit. Taking walks with family, dancing and playing with the munchkins or fur-faces of your clan are all ways to work a little activity into the party.
Then there’s food. Ah, holiday food. I think the best strategies are:

  • not to skip meals, especially if you’re going to a party, and
  • opt for as many fruits and vegetables (especially vegetables) as you can.
  • When you encounter your favorite holiday foods, experiment with having a little without having a lot. The practice of mindful eating can help you develop the skill to savor and enjoy not only the sweet in your mouth but also the wonder of the season.
  • It’s easy to overindulge. If you do, just notice the barrier to mindful savoring you encountered, learn from it and move on.

WWW to the Rescue
There’s no shortage of advice on the web for surviving the holidays. Here are some of the best I found:

  • Web MD has articles, game plans, recipes, and more on their site. I thought this piece on avoiding holiday weight gain had some good ideas.
  • Healthy  doesn’t have to mean cookie-free. If you know you’ll be surrounded by sugar bombs this year, bring along some healthy holiday cookies from Eating Well Magazine.
  • Family time isn’t always fun for everyone. If you want to connect with your family, but  your family struggles with stressful interactions or substance abuse, here’s a strategy-rich guide for working with family stress and conflict during the holidays. Remember AA and ALanon meetings tend to draw many first timers this time of year. It can feel great to get a little support.

Most of all, wherver you are, whatever you do, enjoy yourself through this holiday season.