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Staying Happy & Healthy through the Holidays

In case you haven’t been to Target since October and missed it, the holiday season is upon us. It could just be my perception, but it seems like people (and retail stores) are coming out in full force this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and embrace the season. But I think we can all agree that the holiday season isn’t always jolly–often times we are mentally and physically drained towards the end of it. Here are some tips to help you have a happy and healthy holiday season:

Get Rid of the Guilt

How many times have you heard people at the gym say, “I’m only here to burn off _______ I ate yesterday”? It’s incredibly common to hear at the gym, especially during the holidays. It seems like the holidays and food guilt go hand-in-hand. It’s a nasty cycle to get trapped in and drains happiness during the holidays. The only thing that feeling guilty will do is take enjoyment out of whatever you’re doing. Instead, let’s tell food guilt to take a hike.

Try telling yourself, I get to eat holiday meals without guilt. Guess what? It’s just food and you can take pleasure in it. Notice how it smells, tastes and looks–mindfully enjoy every part of it and then move on to focusing on enjoying your family, friends and holiday cheer.

Embrace the Experiences

Experiences are what makes the holiday season memorable. Social connection has a huge impact on our well-being. Research shows that close relationships are imperative to long-term health and happiness. This year, make a vow to enjoy quality time with the people you love and don’t let your thoughts about what you will have for dinner keep you from being present. Embrace the experience of festive meals with other people without feelings of stress and guilt, which should never be part of healthy eating.

Practice Self-Compassion

The holidays seem to be a time that people put tons of pressure on themselves to live up to certain expectations set by god knows who. We’ve created a culture where we let perfect be the enemy of good. Instead of beating yourself up over something or not saying kind things to yourself, try reframing your thoughts. Think of everything as a learning experience. For example, try saying “________ went really well and I’m proud of myself for that. Next time, I might try to….” Life (especially the holidays) can be tough enough, so be a friend to yourself not an enemy.

Move Your Body to Feel Good

How often do you leave a GFSC class in an awful mood? Hopefully, not that frequently. You might feel like you never want to see the word “burpee” again, but you likely aren’t feeling grumpy. That’s because exercise is incredibly good for your mental well-being. Moving your body decreases stress, anxiety and boosts your mood. In fact, moving your body for as little as 10-minutes can have positive effects. If you can’t make it to a GFSC class, don’t let that keep you from being active. Do whatever you can that day to move your body. Go on a walk, find a Youtube video, play tag with your kids or do some power cleaning–just move!

Eat & Enjoy Food

Food is a significant part of holiday traditions and it’s usually indulgent (and delicious). There are likely memories that go along with your holiday tradition food. Rather than being concerned about eating “unhealthy” food and engaging in negative self-talk, think about the positive memories associated with that food. Eat mindfully and enjoy every bite. Remember, the holiday season is short-lived and a couple days of celebratory food is not going to have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. Your habits throughout the entire year matter most, not only this short period of time.

Be Intentional with Your Time

It’s so easy to overextend yourself anytime of the year, but it is especially easy during the holidays. It seems like you are receiving invitation after invitation. While it may be hard to say no, remember that saying no to something means saying yes to something else. That “yes” could be another social commitment that may be more important to you and align with your life better. It could also be a relaxing bath or walk. There will always be things that we just have to do, but there are plenty of choices we can make about how we spend our time. Make sure those choices you get to make positively contribute to your health and well-being rather than detracting from it.

How many times have you told yourself that you will focus on your health and well-being when the holidays are over? Rather than waiting until the New Year to focus on YOU, why not start now? It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Think about the small things you can do that will benefit your health and well-being during the holidays, not what you can’t do. If you want help brainstorming other positive things you can do to support your health and happiness this holiday season, talk to a coach in class!

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