The holiday season can be a wonderful part of year – a time full of celebration and connecting with loved ones. For some, the extra commitments and pressures can also feel overwhelming. Many people often report that, between all the events, their healthy habits fall by the wayside. Yet, it is possible to get through the next couple of months without accumulating extra stress or detracting from your health. Read on to discover our top seven tips for surviving and thriving during the silly season.
1. Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ approach
For many there is a mentality that it is either all or nothing when it comes to healthful habits. They seesaw between taking excellent care of themselves and throwing everything out the window. The secret to thriving – at any time of the year but especially through the silly season – is recognising it is what you do most of the time that contributes to your overall health picture, not what you do sometimes. What you do around your social events and celebrations is vital to maintaining your health and energy through the holidays and into the new year.
2. Prioritise your sleep where possible
More social events equal more late nights which equals less sleep. Be sure to enjoy yourself yet consider that you may benefit from going to bed a little earlier on nights you are not out socialising. This is particularly important if you are experiencing challenges with your sleep quality. While your body can handle a night or two here and there of inadequate or poor-quality sleep, the cumulative impact on your health and energy can begin to take a toll.
3. Practise saying ‘no’
Are you a people pleaser who says ‘yes’ primarily because you have trouble saying ‘no’? While not everyone struggles with this, it is a common challenge for many who feel that saying no is letting people down. Yet, attending events out of obligation is only going to contribute to a sense of overwhelm and leave you feeling exhausted. Consider where your health and energy currently sit on your priority list and, if you feel that they sit lower than you would like, take small and big steps towards inching them up higher. Graciously declining invitations to events you would rather not attend is one step towards reducing your commitments and giving yourself some time to do things you truly want to do instead.
4. Maintain an exercise routine
Not only does exercise make you feel good and keep your body healthy, but it also helps you to sleep better. Research indicates that regular exercise can decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep while improving sleep quality and duration. This could be anything from a brisk walk to a jog, run or any form of resistance training (using your body weight or weights as resistance). Try to maintain an exercise routine through the silly season – even if it is less frequent than what you usually commit to.
5. Amp up your nutrition around events
While you may not be able to control what is on offer at the events you attend, you can control what you eat outside of them. It is okay to be more flexible with your food choices through the festive season – letting your hair down around your food can be part of the joyousness of it all. Yet, you can support your health by making more nutritious choices around your social commitments and outings. To give you a couple of ideas, you could include an extra serve of vegetables in your other meals or add a green smoothie into your daily routine. If you know you are someone who fills up on finger food and would prefer not to, try having a snack or light meal before you leave so that you are not ravenous when you arrive.
6. Be mindful of your alcohol intake
Alcohol consumption tends to creep up during the festive period and it can impact on our overall health as well as the quality of our sleep. While it tends to send us off to sleep quicker, alcohol has been shown to impact our deep sleep cycle. Many people find themselves waking up around 2am and struggling to get back to sleep after drinking alcohol the previous evening. There may be some events you feel that you want to enjoy alcohol at yet consider whether you need it at all of them. If you are someone who feels more comfortable with a drink in their hand at social events, remember that no one needs to know it is non-alcoholic. You may also like the freedom of enjoying alcohol at all your events and if so, simply consider your consumption on the days between them and keep it to a minimum where possible.
7. Make space for joy
The holiday season is supposed to be a time for joy and celebration. It is supposed to be a time for rest and recovery in preparation for the upcoming year. Make space in your calendar to slow down and enjoy yourself. Try not to sweat the small stuff like running late because you got stuck in traffic or finding precisely the right present for a loved one. In the end none of this really matters. What you will cherish most is the precious memories of quality time spent with your loved ones.