The holiday season is a wonderful time of year but it can also be a time when you feel the most pressured. There may be expectations about family togetherness, too many choices about how to spend your time, numerous challenging food situations, and concerns about spending too much money. With a little introspective thinking and planning, you can lessen the pressure, enjoy yourself and still maintain the important elements of your Paleo diet and lifestyle.
Make A List.
Write down everything you would like to do this holiday season, prioritize in order to get the most amount of joy from the limited amount of time you have to spend with family, friends, and coworkers. Remember, this year’s priorities may look different than those of past holidays.
Yes & No.
You may need to be more assertive and say 'no' to events that really add little to no meaning to the holiday season for you personally.
Throughout the festive season there will be office drinks, social gatherings, family affairs, and parties with friends. Be selective about the events that you choose to attend, knowing that saying yes to everything will only leave you feeling exhausted and depleted. This is not the way you want to enter the new year!
Decide which events are important to you, and remove the guilt associated with saying ‘no’ to the rest! Use that time wisely to rejuvenate yourself, rest, and restore from all the other festivities of the season.
At the festive events that you DO choose to attend, there are bound to be sweet treats and naughty nibbles lurking around every corner. Attending all these events with a "zero tolerance" policy is likely to leave you feeling frustrated and deprived. Creating some guidelines for yourself around what and how you are going to indulge will allow you to enjoy and partake in holiday festivities, but on your own terms.
By giving yourself a little leeway with limitations, it becomes easier to stick to our plan. Be choosy. Before you choose your treats and indulgences, ask yourself if it is something you will truly enjoy eating If so, go for it and enjoy it! If not, skip it and indulge in something that is worth it. In other words, be selective and make it count!
If you know options will be limited, offer to bring along a dish so that you can still munch through the festivities with options that are more aligned to your Paleo principles.
When you do choose to indulge, listen to your body, eat mindfully, savor your food and focus on eat when you are truly hungry rather than when you are bored, stressed, or simply because the food is there. Pay attention to your hunger cues and stop eating when you feel satisfied instead of full or stuffed. This can feel difficult at holiday parties when food is so central to the experience. Focus on spending time with the people at the event instead.
A Little Self-Care.
Stress is often heightened during the holidays and it can be harmful to your health. To reduce the stress, remember to be realistic, plan ahead, ask for support and learn to say no. It is important to learn how to prioritize what you need to do and want to do during the weeks of holiday festivities.
The holiday season is about giving, but it is also a great time to give to yourself.
Schedule some time specifically for you - book a massage, take a bubble bath, read a book, do yoga. If you are short on time, ask if your loved ones could step in and help out so you can have a chance to unwind.
As often as you can, prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can make you overeat, leave you feeling sluggish, affect your mood and increase your risk of getting sick. Aim for six to nine hours a night in order to be well-rested enough to enjoy the extra fun and activities the holidays bring.
With all the hustle and bustle of the season it is easy to want to skip your workout. You may need to rethink when and how, but scheduling in even moderate amounts of movement and exercise each week will leave you in a better mood and with more energy.
At the same time, if you find yourself trying to sustain a fast pace, be sure to take some ‘down time,’ even if this is simply taking a few minutes to take a few deep breaths and consciously breathe away tension. You can also take a laughter break and do something like watch a funny holiday movie. Laughter is sometimes the best medicine, and watching other fictional families fumble their way through the holiday season can be entertaining and stress-releasing.
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The holidays can be financially frustrating so make sure you create a budget and stick to it. If you can get through the holidays without major debt afterwards, you can enjoy the season without the guilt. Be creative with your gift giving and at the end of the day, remember what’s really important this holiday season.
Often you might find yourself so wrapped up in all the holiday activities, you might forget to take the time to give to others outside the family; to those who really do have needs. Consider inviting an elderly widow or widower in your neighbourhood into your home for cocoa and cookies, “adopt” someone for the holidays who is either away from family or has no family, serve a meal at a local soup kitchen, or visit with some elderly folks at a nursing home and bring along some small gifts. These small acts may help bring perspective to your life and enrich it. Plus, it may make you feel good!
Remember that it is the thought that counts. Do your best not to allow competitiveness and perfectionism to send you on too many shopping trips. Homemade or thoughtful, inexpensive gifts from the heart are often cherished far more than high-priced items.
Take a fresh look at your various holiday activities. You may discover one or more traditions might need an overhaul, or you may consider creating a new tradition. Keep in mind that the best traditions are often those that are the simplest and involve spending quality time together. Social pressure or outdated activities that no longer serve you or your goals steal away opportunities to be thankful for the people, experiences, and events that will make this year unique and memorable. If you are sending greeting cards, why not add a personalized message about why you are thankful for having the recipient in your life. Consider getting involved with a volunteer activity where you can help others. Few activities result in greater satisfaction than the act of giving selflessly from the heart. Last, but not least, commit to taking some time to reflect on the deeper meaning and spirit of the holidays for you personally, for your family, and for humanity and the world. By pausing to reflect on this meaning, you can gain a better perspective on how to organize your holiday plans and even your plans for the coming year.
It can be easy to feel like you are completely failing at our health goals at this time of year, so it is vitally important to remind yourself to be a little bit more forgiving of yourself. Show yourself some grace and kindness – this will support you and your Paleo lifestyle way more than any guilt or regret.
This season is about joy, celebration, festivities and togetherness, with the odd little bit of indulgence thrown in here and there. Life is about balance, and it is crucial not to beat yourself up if we have an ‘off day’ or indulge in too much pie. At the end of the day, is one extra indulgence or a missed workout is not really going to harm you in the greater scheme of things.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com