An array of sweet treats, snacks, and desserts after every meal. A dinner table lined with an assortment of meats, freshly baked breads, and warm roasted potatoes and vegetables. Drinks galore, from mulled wine, sparkling wine, and fruit cocktails, to warm cups of cocoa during cold evenings.
Whether sugary or savory, the holidays are typically a time of temptations, presenting us with multiple opportunities around every nook and corner to overindulge in a variety of food, snacks, and beverages.
From the seemingly endless dinner parties and lunch dates to the office holiday party and trays of steamy cookies to sample when out shopping, the holiday season is a time of celebration and tantalization.
Each year, as the holiday period rolls around, we’re often conditioned to throw our regular exercise routine out of the window, only to reap the repercussions thereof in the new year. And once we’re back in our normal routine, and notice that our pants are sitting a bit more snuck than usual, we often feel a sense of regret towards ourselves.
Creating a Healthy Schedule During the Holiday Season
While the holidays are a time of celebration, we often neglect our physical and mental well-being. It’s not just you, a lot of people tend to overindulge during the festive period.
One survey from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed claim that they tend to overindulge in food. Even more, around 45 percent said they typically take a break from their exercise routine, with more than half saying they feel tired, and have less time for themselves.
In fact, in another study, some two in five American adults say that their stress levels increase during November and January compared to other times of the year.
Whether it’s having more time to spend at home with family, simply clearing your schedule, getting some alone time, and finally tackling those items on your to-do list, the holidays are usually busier and filled with all sorts of temptations, leaving little time to focus on our own needs.
Peter McMullin, President of Sibu Sea Berry Therapy, a specialty supplements and functional foods company says, “Although the holidays are meant to be celebrated with friends and family, it’s also a time to reflect on the year that was and begin to plan for the new year. Setting new goals and looking towards ways you can improve yourself.”
Peter and his brother, Dusty McMullin, are two second-generation entrepreneurs working at their father, Bruce McMullin’s company, Sibu, which he founded — back in 2004.
Time to deck the halls and get yourself back into action, setting boundaries, and learning how to schedule exercise, practice mindfulness, and have more balance this holiday season.
Plan an Active Holiday Season
While the work year and all the stress and anxiousness that comes with it is now behind you, you can begin to look towards planning an active holiday season that allows you enough time in your day to do more active things, such as exercising, walking or going to the gym, but still have time on your hands to rest.
If you’re planning a staycation this year, start by planning a weekly workout schedule for several days of the week. If you already have a workout schedule, try and follow through with it as much as possible. For those looking to be a bit more active, see how you can fit a workout or two into your schedule instead of sitting around the whole day.
For people who may be traveling this holiday season, try to plan your itinerary to include things such as exercise, whether that’s walking or going for a run. Make sure to pack the right activewear, such as running shoes, pants, and a comfortable shirt.
Have a Balanced Meal Plan
As already mentioned, we tend to feel extremely tempted with all sorts of food and drinks during this time of the year. While it’s not always easy turning a blind eye to these temptations, try and incorporate a more balanced meal plan throughout normal weeks.
Instead of having something heavy for every meal, plan your meals to incorporate a variety of fresh produce, lean meats, low-carb dishes, and drink lots of water.
According to Dusty, Vice President of Operations at Sibu, he says, “Food is our medicine. Having a balanced meal allows us to feel good and energized. Combining that with exercise ensures we stay fit and active without overindulging unnecessarily.”
Try to source healthier alternatives and purchase products that are lower in sugar and are made from natural and organic ingredients. While it may be easier, and sometimes cheaper, to buy something pre-made, rather opt to make things yourself at home so that you know how much you’re consuming.
Practice a Steady Healthcare Routine
The cold weather, lack of sun, and shorter days can demotivate anyone. Having to spend most of your days indoors or inside a car while traveling can steadily take a toll on your body.
Taking a bit of time each day to incorporate a steady healthcare routine can help keep you in shape while being able to care for your well-being. Although exercise is perhaps the best medicine, other things, such as moving your body regularly, stretching before and after sitting for long hours, and even a proper skincare routine can make you feel more relaxed and in touch with your body’s needs during the festive period.
Doing something small each time, whether that’s doing a home workout or trying to remember to apply your moisturizer before bed and layering some SPF during the day, will help keep your body and skin in top shape.
More than this, setting up these small things will help you create a routine in your daily schedule and teach you how to foster new healthy habits, such as good skincare or regular exercise, even if it’s only for several minutes of the day.
Keep Your Eating Habits in Check
Food forms a big part of the holiday season. We’re often prompted to indulge in syrupy pancakes for breakfast, copious amounts of warm beverages, and hefty lunches and dinners. Our plates are stacked, and you somehow always find room for dessert afterward.
Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to indulge. However, it’s also important to remember that having a more balanced approach will allow you to notice what foods you should be eating more of and which you should keep to a minimum.
Make sure you start every day with a healthy breakfast, with servings of grains, protein, and other important nutrients, such as dairy and fiber. You can incorporate fresh fruit in your morning breakfast, allowing you to pick and choose from various food options before your day even starts.
Snacking during the day is fairly common, but instead of diving into a tin of cooking and popcorn, try and opt for lighter, less sugary products such as fruits, wholegrain biscuits, or even a healthy sandwich. Plan to incorporate an assortment of vegetables and other fresh items at the dinner table for each meal. Skip the dessert every second night, or replace that with a healthier alternative.
Overconsumption of alcohol could also be another contributing influence. Try to avoid drinking more than usual or even too much. Replace alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic options, or perhaps a fresh juice with less sugar. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day and replace your coffee with tea now and again.
Remember to Take Your Supplements and Vitamins
The early mornings and late nights, having a busy schedule, and trying to balance work-life responsibilities can leave you feeling tired and often exhausted. Many U.S. adults and younger children now use supplements and vitamins as part of their daily healthcare routine, as a way to improve their well-being and general health.
New studies have shown that more than half of American consumers now take specialty supplements, including things such as natural Omega-7 supplements, Omega-3s, melatonin, and fiber.
“Changes in lifestyle and diet over recent years have seen more people opting to consume specialty and non-specialty supplements for an added dose of energy to help give them a bit of a boost during the day,” says Peter McMullin. He continues sharing, “Our lives are already busy; supplements and vitamins help us feel better and keep our bodies in check. They wane of illness, and protect us against disease, especially when we’re more susceptible to things such as the common flu.”
Whether you’re taking a dietary supplement or even a vitamin, remember to take these now and again or at least once per day. Please keep them in a place where they can always be visible, such as in the kitchen or your bedroom. You can even set a reminder for yourself on your cell phone to ensure you don’t forget about them.
Keep Your Mental Health in Check
During this time of the year, many people are prone to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety, often due to feelings of isolation, being overwhelmed with a busy schedule, or having to juggle work and family responsibilities at the same time.
One survey of around 1,000 Americans found that eight in ten feel more stressed during this time of the year compared to other months.
More than this, financial stress, in more recent years due to the sudden rise in the cost of living, has also become a burdensome experience for many people. In one survey, a robust 75 percent of Americans said they are experiencing stress from rising prices and holiday spending.
Whether you’re feeling stressed, anxious or simply overwhelmed, remember to take time for yourself. Schedule in downtime when you need it, and get out more during the day. Take yourself out for lunch, or give yourself a break from technology, by walking or spending a few minutes in the park each day.
How to Focus on Your Mental Health During the Holidays:
Know when You’re Feeling Triggered
There may be moments when someone or something might trigger you, leaving you to spiral endlessly out of control. At best, it’s advised to identify the things that trigger you and try to avoid them as much as possible.
Have a Mindful Breakaway
Break away from the ordinary or your routine. Give yourself, and your mind a break when you need it. Your mindful breakaway can be something small and simple, such as baking or even going for a drive and listening to music. Reading can also be another great way for you to feel more relaxed and shut out all the noise.
Talk to Someone
In times when you’re feeling anxious, have someone you can talk to. Whether this might be your partner, a friend, or even a family member, keep these people close when you need them the most.
Keep in Contact with A Professional
For those of us who might be seeing a professional and licensed therapist, try to contact them during the holiday season. Even if you’re not heading in for a face-to-face session each week, try to arrange to meet virtually or at least have a phone call now and again. Make additional arrangements beforehand, ensuring you will always have contact with them when necessary, and see if you can book sessions far in advance.
Don’t Have High Expectations
There will be times when things don’t go as planned, and that’s normal. Don’t have high expectations for everything that may need to happen during the holiday season, as this could only lead to feelings of disappointment. Make sure to have an open mind about everything, and approach each problem or scenario with a fresh perspective.
Go Easy on Yourself
Whatever your plans may be this holiday season, be easy on yourself. Don’t overbook yourself, only leaving you feeling overwhelmed, tired, and constantly having to put out multiple fires all at once. Even when incorporating exercise into your routine, start slow and gradually build yourself up to something more advanced. Be patient, and focus on the things that fill you with feelings of joy and contentment.
Spend Alone Time with Your Partner
Having an entire house or packed schedule could easily mean that you have less time to spend with your partner alone. Now and again, try to work in a few hours where just the two of you can do something by yourselves. Go for dinner, or take yourselves out for a quick coffee. Read together, or watch a movie. Go for a walk, and take the dogs with you. The more minor things matter at the end of the day.
This may be one of the more challenging things, but setting boundaries with your family and friends can also be another way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Learn to say no to things and stick to the things you think are necessary for you to feel relaxed. If someone is overstepping a boundary, don’t react, instead communicate this with them in a calm way.
One of the best ways to feel more relaxed is to unplug yourself completely. Switch off your phone and computer. Find a quiet space where you can relax and feel safe. Take time to do nothing and think of nothing. Make more time for yourself, unplug, and give yourself a moment to relax, even during the holiday season’s chaos.
Keep a Routine
Another way you can keep your mental health in check is by setting up a routine and trying to keep to it as much as possible, or at least the parts you are comfortable with. Whether it’s going to the gym in the morning or scheduling a few hours for yourself, whatever your routine may be, try and keep to this as much as possible, as this will help you foster better boundaries with others and establish healthy habits.
Now that the holiday season is here, it’s time to keep our health and well-being as one of our top priorities. Try to keep a healthy and steady diet, incorporating fresh ingredients and keeping overindulgence to a minimum.
The best way to feel healthier is to have balance in your life. Make sure you track what you’re eating and drinking, and combine this with a good exercise routine. Give yourself some time to rest, and schedule a few hours to rest now and again.
Before you know it, the holidays will be over, and you’ll be left feeling more exhausted and perhaps a little bit heavier than before. Try to foster healthy habits and develop a routine that works best for your needs.
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