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Here Come the Holidays! 7 strategies to honor yourself & your health goals during the holiday season


This week was Halloween and the unofficial {or official?} start of the holiday season!


Taking care of ourselves, and whatever goals we are working towards, may take a backseat to the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.


When it comes to taking care of ourselves, it’s not just about the food {and drinks} we consume and how we choose to move our body {aka exercise}.


It’s also about getting enough sleep, making meaningful connections with family and friends, being kind to ourselves with our self-talk, and all the other micro actions that contribute to our mental and physical health.


I’m going provide seven strategies to honor our health {physical and mental} during the holiday season. This is a long one, but it’s full of useful info.


Pick and choose what resonates for you and leave the rest {or come back for more later}.


Buckle up, here we go…


#1: Be a compassionate observer of your thoughts, feelings and actions.


As Moms, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone. Consciously or unconsciously, we think we are responsible for other people’s happiness. This is amplified over the holiday season. And those thoughts can cause uncomfortable feelings.


Our brain doesn’t like to be uncomfortable. It’ll do whatever it can to distract us…reach for snacks, grab a drink, scroll social media, online shop, etc…{I can’t be the only one that builds online shopping carts at all my favorite retailers ;-}.


Here’s the reality…


Food {or shopping or drinking or whatever your distraction du jour} doesn’t fix feelings. It only temporarily offers some relief. Think of it like a beach ball that you’re trying to keep under the surface of the water. You can temporarily submerge it with effort, but it will pop right back up and we’re back to square one {sitting with the feelings}.


When you feel stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, take 2 minutes to brain dump your thoughts onto paper. Pass them each through a filter:


Is that thought true?

How do I know it’s true?

What else could be true?

Is that thought serving me or do I want to choose another thought?

What could I think instead?


As you’re moving through the holiday season, be a compassionate watcher of your thoughts, feelings and actions.


Don’t judge yourself, just notice when you’re distracting yourself from your feelings. Pause, take a minute to breathe and observe the situation and ask yourself what you really need. Or, if the moment has passed, look back and reflect on your actions with compassion and decide how you want to do it differently next time around.


#2: Ditch the people pleasing


People pleasing shows up quite a bit over the holidays in all kinds of situations.


Perhaps we want to be the perfect host and we make that mean we need to cook a sh&% ton of food and eat that food with our guests.


Or we think we have to drink whatever and whenever everyone else is.


Or we think that we need to consume all the food and alcohol that is offered to us when we visit someone else’s house and, if we politely decline, we make it mean that we’re being rude.


Or, we think we must accept every single invite that comes our way during the holiday season, when we’d rather relax on the sofa and watch holiday movies on repeat {Elf is my fave and Die Hard is not a Christmas movie…debate me in the comments ;-}.


Here’s what I’d like you to consider…we are in control of how we respond to everything around us. And we are not responsible for how other people interpret what we say and do. It’s true!


You CAN express your love in other ways that don’t involve accepting food or alcohol. For example, you can engage in conversation, ask questions and show you care in other ways. If parties aren’t your jam, you can set up a time to connect with friends in a more relaxed setting instead of attending every event.


#3: Practice saying “no”.


In order to ditch the people pleasing, we really need to practice saying “no”.


There’s a lot of ways we can do this.


No thank you, maybe later, not now thanks, thank you for the invitation but I’m not available that night, I’m choosing not to attend that event, or HELL NO; However, you want to deliver the no, whatever works for you, you get to choose.


And, we are not responsible for what someone else thinks about what we say and do. That’s their business, not ours.


Saying “no” (and practicing saying “no”, if you think it’s difficult for you) is a big part of taking back our power and, ultimately, creating the results we want for ourselves.


#4: Plan ahead for social gatherings


If you are taking care of your body in a way that involves consuming alcohol and certain foods in moderation, this one’s for you ;-}.


Consider that your food {and alcohol} environment during the holidays may be different from other times of the year.


For example:

  • people might be bringing in sweets into the office

  • maybe you enjoy baking over the holidays

  • maybe you attend (or host) multiple social gatherings during the holiday period

  • perhaps your family {and friend} traditions that are centered around food and alcohol.

You are still in control…YOU still have 100% control over your actions.


If you’re hosting a holiday event, you get to decide what you will serve. If you’re attending a holiday party, you may not have control over what other people serve {or bring}, but you CAN bring a side dish {or two} that you choose to enjoy.


Planning ahead takes the decision making out of the equation.


When we plan ahead, we can override our primitive brain {our survival brain}. That’s the part of our brain that wants to seek pleasure and avoid pain, that wants the instant reward {e.g., the “buzz” from another drink or lots of high calorie, super yummy foods}.


If you are tempted in the moment, consider if the instant reward is worth how will you feel tomorrow. Consider if that decision will get you closer to your goal.


Ultimately, you can choose to eat and drink whatever you want if you don’t think it’s a problem for you. Yes, you heard that right. You get to choose and decide if the consequences {specific to you} are worth it to you.


But make the choices ahead of time and ENJOY whatever you choose WITHOUT guilt.


#5: Ditch the “all or nothing” thinking


When we make a plan to do something {health-related or not}, we think we have to be “all in” or “not in at all”. If we’re not following our plan perfectly, we think we’re “off the rails” or that we “fell off the wagon”. And sometimes we just give up.


Or we think, “I’ll just start again tomorrow”, or “I’ll start again on Monday”, or “I’ll just start on January 1st!”


This happens because we have a human brain! Our survival brain wants to do what’s easy, it wants to seek pleasure and avoid pain.


When we fall into absolutes, we sometimes end up feeling stuck and that feeling doesn’t drive actions that will move us forward.


For example, you plan to walk for 45 minutes, but you choose to prioritize something else for 30 minutes of your 45 minute window. Instead of scrolling socials for the remaining 15 minutes, consider that moving your body for 15 minutes is better than not at all.


Being consistent, looking at the big picture rather than hyper-focusing on the negatives, is more important than perfect {whatever that actually means}.


#6: Be accountable for our own actions


We always have control over how we react to what’s going on around us. We have the power to decide how we will react.


Remember, the circumstances around us are neutral.


The number of parties you attend is a fact, the number of social gatherings you host at your house is a fact, that someone gifted you holiday cookies is a fact. The dozens of cookies that you bake is a fact. And those facts are neutral until you have a thought about them.


When we have a thought about those circumstances (those facts), that thought causes a feeling (an emotion) and that feeling drives us to take actions (what we do and don’t do). And it’s those actions that create our results.


The food {and alcohol} in front of you is neutral and doesn’t mean anything until we think something about it. For example, if you think, “I deserve to have an extra couple glasses of wine to celebrate”, that thought will lead to very different actions compared to other thoughts: “I don’t need to have extra wine to celebrate with my friends” or “The extra wine isn’t worth feeling crappy tomorrow”.


This is good news! Because we get to decide {we get to choose} what we want to think about ANY circumstance. We get to decide {we get to choose} what we make those facts mean.


So, let’s deliberately choose to be accountable for our own actions, let’s not blame our actions on something or someone else.


#7 Pick three actions that you will focus on each week to honor your health-related goals over the next 6 weeks


Start with three things. Keep it simple.


Maybe you choose to sleep at least 7 hours each night, drink 2 full water bottles each day and move your body at least 20 minutes per day. You get to choose!


Keep doing those three things until they’re routine and then add in other actions along the way.


Remember that you are in control and you are in charge of how you want to show up for yourself over the holidays.


Enjoy the start of the holiday season friends, however you choose to celebrate!




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