Remember the old cartoons? There was always an episode where the main character, faced with making a decision, had a little angel sitting on one shoulder and a little devil sitting on the other. Both were simultaneously speaking into the character’s ears, trying to persuade him/her and generally causing a lot of confusion and frustration.
Yeah, that’s how most people feel around the holidays.
This time of year often becomes a tug of war between the part of us seeking pleasure and fulfillment and our inner drill sergeant. And it feels like a lose-lose situation because it forces us into one of two behavioral patterns: either we deprive ourselves of pleasure and then feel frustrated and resentful OR we indulge in pleasure only to feel regret and guilt over it. We get caught up in this cycle of deprivation, shame and guilt surrounding food.
And some can stay in this cycle for several months – until the New Year rolls around – at which point the drill sergeant says, “That’s it! You are absolutely out of control. You know what you need? A RESOLUTION!”
Yup. We all know how that goes…
So how do we bring a bit of Wellegance to this most un-Wellegant situation? 😉
We begin by honoring ourselves enough to stay out of this cycle in the first place. In other words, silence all the voices competing for your attention and take back control of your time and your choices. Here are ten ways to do that:
1) Eat regular meals at regular times. Not only will this prevent the blood sugar highs and lows that sap our energy and our willpower, but it helps to maintain a sense of routine. Our routines ground us and, without them, the stress of this busy season is exacerbated. And, as we all know, more stress often leads to poor choices.
2) Move every day. Even if it’s 10 minutes of stretching or a walk around the block, make sure to get some exercise every day. It clears the mind, energizes the body, reduces stress and gets those feel-good hormones (endorphins) flowing!
3) Plan your indulgences ahead of time. It is unreasonable to expect yourself to avoid all of the holiday treats that make the holidays special. Each year, I look forward to enjoying my mother’s homemade tri-color cookies or my sister in law’s chocolate mousse cake. These are treats that I’ve come to associate with special occasions and there’s no way I would deprive myself of those simple pleasures. So I plan for them. If I plan to indulge in chocolate mousse cake for dessert, then I’ll forego the bread basket at dinner. If I’ve sampled a bunch of the cheeses during Appetizers, then I might not have a second glass of wine. Planning in this way makes your choices more conscious, which helps you to avoid overindulging and eliminates the guilt.
4) Build stress reduction techniques into your day. This can be some deep breathing, meditation, a hot bath, even a manicure can be a stress reducer when you go into it with the mindset of “unplugging” for a bit. And remember, a big part of reducing stress is making the decision NOT to allow the holidays to take over your life – your time, your body and your budget.
5) Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy food. Don’t collect junk food! At this time of year, it seems that everywhere I go, someone wants to send me home with dessert or some other leftover. And while that’s very generous, I almost always refuse them. That way, my home remains a “healthy zone.”
6) Create a collection of quick, simple and healthy meals (ones that require few ingredients, little prep/cooking time, and minimal clean up). This ensures that you’ll be able to prepare a healthy meal, even when time is short. Check out the Recipe section for some inspiration.
7) Know your limits and give yourself permission to say “no” – to food, to invitations, to others’ asking for help/favors, etc. At this time of year, perhaps more than any other, it’s imperative to have clear, firm boundaries and to communicate those boundaries to others.
8) Get enough sleep. Exhaustion weakens us. It weakens our immune system, it weakens our resolve and it will pretty much guarantee that you won’t enjoy the special things that this season has to offer. Being well rested will keep your body healthy and energized and your mind peaceful and positive.
9) Drink enough water. One consequence of dehydration is that we experience food cravings. It also drains us of energy, affects our mood and leaves our skin looking dull and tired. Make sure to stay well hydrated so that you can look and feel your best.
10) Remind yourself what the true meaning of the holiday is…to experience love, gratitude, forgiveness and beauty. Make sure you’re giving yourself those gifts.
Have a wonderful, Wellegant™ week,