Managing the Stress of the Holidays
Most of us look forward to the holiday season and yet, many people also report higher levels of stress throughout the festivities…the endless responsibilities from getting your cards out, decorating the house inside and out, finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones and attending every social party and get-together can add a lot of pressure to someone’s life! Whether or not you buy into the holiday season, we all probably experience some level of stress at this time of year. Here’s how to ensure the holidays don’t get you down:
Bet you guessed this would be at the top of my list.
Exercise is the best de-stressor at any time of year and this still holds true during the holidays. But don’t get yourself worked up if you can’t keep up with your regular fitness regime. Instead set some minimums.
For example, instead of following your regular 5 workouts a week, over the holidays it’s okay to allow yourself to drop back to 2-3 workouts a week to maintain your fitness. Or instead of your usual hour plus routines, opt for a quick 15-30 minute express workout. This will keep your energy levels up and you won’t feel like you’ve got to start all over in the New Year. A quick workout is all you’ll need to help make you feel better when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with everything you’ve got to get done. The endorphins that are released during the workout will give you the energy to tackle errands with a more positive attitude. Try to incorporate some Yoga and/or deep breathing exercise which will really help you manage any stress. You’ll also find that committing to your workouts over the holidays helps to keep your nutrition in check. For one, when you’re exercising you seem to have more self-control to pass on some of the holiday extras and even if you do decide to indulge, it helps to know that you can afford a few extras because you didn’t skip your workout.
Pigging out on chocolates, cookies and cakes and drinking till you see double of everything is enough to make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck! It’s perfectly ok to indulge over the holidays but you’ve still got to keep your health and fitness goals in check.
Go for the “have to eat” vs “can’t eat” approach.
Instead of forbidding any treats over the holidays rather, focus on drinking 8 glasses of water, consuming 5 vegetables and 3 fruits, eat breakfast, and consume 5 small meals/snacks each day. If you’ve still got room for your favorite Christmas cookie, go for it. But eat it slowly and really enjoy the taste. At parties you may find yourself eating a lot later than usual. Try to eat something small earlier and then at the party you’ll be less likely to overeat right before bed.
When you’re running around like crazy and can’t commit to your normal fitness regime, try to incorporate more activity into your days. For example, go for a walk with your family and friends, in the mall take the stairs instead of the escalators, and park at the back of the lot. The little bits of extra activity will help you feel better.
Remember you’re in control of your life and how much you’re going to enjoy the holidays. If attending every single party you’re invited to stresses you out, choose only the ones you know you’ll have a great time. If seeing each of your relatives on Christmas day will leave you feeling exhausted, perhaps set up a rotation system for each year or schedule one large party where everybody gets together and there’s no need to drive to 3 different locations. If the thought of cooking dinner for the whole family makes you want to cry, delegate responsibilities and enjoy a buffet dinner. If purchasing presents for everybody in your family or all your friends is enough to break the bank, draw names or instead, spend your time planning how you are going to enjoy special, quality time with them. Favorite holiday memories can be focused on long walks, hikes or sitting around with friends and family talking in front of the fireplace.
Manage Your Stress:
Get enough sleep. If you’re tired, stress appears worse than it is. If you do feel stressed, take a number of slow, deep breaths and try to relax.
Remember the spirit of the holidays – a celebration of love, community, friendship and family. Do something nice for someone. Go out of your way to be kind. Schedule time for your family to recognize and appreciate all the things you should be thankful for.
Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com
Note: As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started. Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.