It’s the most wonderful time of the year….Right?
Yes, and sometimes, no. The holidays can be a wonderful time for family, friends, and special gatherings. But for many, it’s very stressful. The stress may be drawn from a number of things. For starters there seems to be an endless amount of extra tasks to do – shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning, party-planning, just to name a few. You may have unrealistic expectations, or you may be missing people who were dear to you that you’ve lost. The financial burden of gift lists also adds to the mix.
You definitely don’t need to add “maintain a perfect eating routine” to you list at this point. Consider the 80-20 rule. Most of the time, do your best, let the rest go.
Spending Time Wisely
Stress does impact your health. Studies show that stress can have an affect on your focus, your overall well-being. Long-term stress can impact your immune system, cause digestive or sleep issues, and affect your cardiovascular (heart) health.
Even though your time may be tight over the next two weeks, it’s important to take some down time, and pay attention to your personal needs.
- If you are a stress-eater, you’ll want to be aware of any triggers and create a plan to handle them. Have healthy snacks planned, consider going out for a ten minute walk when the stress level creeps up, or take a break with a cup of tea or coffee and just breathe. Seriously, it’s amazing what just one to two minutes of deep breathing can do!
- Don’t skip meals. Now more than ever you’ll want to fuel up for the day properly. Make a batch of hard-cooked eggs for the week so you can grab one in the morning, or try my egg muffin cups. Slice up some fruit ahead so it’s easy to dish out in the morning. Or have a simple bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal with sliced bananas or berries. Look for easy weeknight dinners too, like this comfort-food Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese.
- Keep moving. It’s also easy to skip the gym when your to-do list is long. Again, it’s even more important to fit in that physical activity when your stress level is high. Instead of making excuses, set smaller goals – 15-30 minute walk instead of your usual 45, or do 20 minutes on the elliptical instead of 30.
- I’m sure you have some holiday parties, and some family gatherings, that add up to more than just 3-4 days of celebrating. Keep your portions smaller the other days. You can consider this a semi-intermittent fast, where you cut your portions in half at breakfast or lunch, and dish out less at dinner. This is a good time to remind yourself to slow down at meals too. Eating too quickly results in overeating. Don’t rush meals. Sit down, slow down, and savor each bite.
- Perfection is never the goal. The goal of healthy habits is to do your best most of the time. Remember the 80-20 rule. Most of the time, make healthy choices, then 20% of the time, give yourself a break, where you’ll eat the cookies, the candy or the rich sauces.
Speaking of stress and anxiety…Be sure to also check out my post about the CBD trend. I’ll be covering more on this topic in the new year.