I was thinking that I would blog today about getting back on track with food after the big Thanksgiving meal most of us Americans ate yesterday. But as I sat down to write, I realized that for many people, it’s their emotional wellness that is more strained today then their waistbands.
There’s a lot about the holidays that can impact people’s wellness—whether it’s gaining weight, or having your emotional wellness impacted by depression, overwhelment, and stress, as well as challenging relationships.
The typical things that can throw people out of balance–and have them reaching for extra helpings of their favorite comfort food–during the holidays include:
- Unmet expectations—you might be trying to live up to a romanticized notion of how the holidays should be, either from your memories of when you were a kid or from how the holidays are portrayed in the movies. Or you may be trying to make everything perfect—for yourself or for others. This is something Mom’s can really struggle with because they want to make things perfect for their kids.
- Other people’s expectations—you can be dealing with expectations of how you should act, or your perception of other people’s expectations. You may really struggle with feeling like you’re disappointing people, or feel like they have a negative perception of you that you can use as a reason to feel bad about yourself.
- Dwelling on negative things—you might have previous holiday-related disappointments or difficult times that haunt you this time of year.
- Challenging relationships—tensions often run high during the holidays and there may be family misunderstandings and conflicts, particularly if you’re spending a lot more time together than usual. Or you may be facing the holidays without a loved one, which can also leave you feeling lonely and sad.
- Extra physical demands—all the shopping, decorating, socializing, cooking, sending out holiday cards—the list goes on and on—can leave you wiped out. Particularly if you feel like you have to do it all yourself. Being exhausted increases stress. Exercise and sleep—those good solutions for stress and fatigue—may take a back seat to chores and errands.
Having a different experience over the holidays is really about making different choices.
Here are some tips for creating the holidays you want:
- Define what the holidays really mean to you and how you want to feel. Then make that vision your priority. Let go of anything that doesn’t create that vision and feeling.
- Take care of you! Take the time to meditate, exercise, and get enough rest so that you have mental clarity and physical energy. Taking care of you enables you to take care of others–and be the version of you that others actually want to be around!
- Focus on the best qualities of everyone you love and forgive them for not being perfect. And most importantly, forgive yourself for not being perfect!
- Let go of the responsibility for anyone else’s happiness. I know it’s hard to hear and even harder to believe, but this includes your kids!
- Release the need to do everything yourself and either ask for help or let things go. That means not criticizing your partner when they do things differently then how you would have done them. Done equals beautiful!
- Focus on all the things you appreciate. If you can only do one thing, do this!
- Focus on all the reasons you want to start the New Year feeling great. Write down the reminders and read them when you start to feel stressed.
- Celebrate each tiny thing that you do that creates your balanced and fulfilled holiday experience. Taking a stress-relieving bath, going for a walk, not snapping at your kids–all wins!
- Reach out for support to help you get through the challenges you are facing. It can be hard to ask for what you need, but this is not the time to go it alone. Seek the support of a friend, hire a coach, or reach out to a free on-line support community, like http://www.transformation.com/.
Ultimately, getting through the holidays feeling healthy and happy is about letting go of the need to be perfect. It’s reaching for the hope and belief that life can get better and better.
Yesterday was just one day in your hopefully very long life. If it didn’t go as well as you hoped, for whatever reason, what can you do today to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep making progress toward the body–and life–you want?
Together we can do it!