It is always interesting to watch how the stress builds during the holiday season. This should be a time of joy and relaxing, but it often includes fitting in numerous social obligations and lots of shopping and planning, on top of work and family, which leads to stress. When January comes, people feel empty and guilt-ridden because they ate too much or spent too much money.
This year, try to consider your health as well as the health of others when planning gifts and events. Too often we undermine our efforts to stay healthy and maintain a good body weight. Here are some ways to celebrate without sabotaging your health:
1.) Remember that there is a whole week between Christmas and New Year’s! Consider “New Year’s Gifts” for those who you may not see until after Christmas, and pick things up after Dec. 25 to put together a “Here’s To Your Health” basket for friends. Items could include a yoga DVD, herbal tea, low-fat cookies, fresh fruit, small packages of nuts, wrist and ankle weights for exercizing, a pedometer, a healthy cookbook, red wine, some high-quality dark chocolate, comfy slippers, or bath products.
2.) Plan those holiday dinners or cocktail parties in advance. If you are hosting a small group of six to eight people, you do not need to put out a huge spread. A nice cheese or a low-fat dip with whole-grain crackers, some fresh grapes, and a good dessert may be all you need.
3.) Offer alternatives to alcohol. Have some chilled sparkling water out for guests to choose, or get the punch bowl out and make an alcohol-free sparkling drink.
4.) Give yourself a break. Many of us may have grown up with stay-at-home moms who did everything from scratch, and lots of it. Times really have changed, and sometimes there is simply no way to accomplish that much while we're working. This can be a struggle for some; especially those who working moms who have a home office and often are mislabeled as stay-at-home moms.
5.) Choose some of your favorite things to do and let the rest go. For example, if you want to bake some cookies, ask your kids which ones they really love, choose two types to make, and enjoy the time spent making (and eating) them. Be sure to freeze some so you do not eat them all, and have a cookie plate ready when guests arrive.
6.) Do things in steps. Prepare the cookie dough one day and refrigerate it. Roll, cut and bake the cookies when you have time.
7.) Do mini yoga. If you can literally feel the muscles in your neck, shoulders, or back cringing, stop what you're doing and breathe. Four simple, deep breaths can do the trick. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale.