I don’t know about you, but this time of the year I’m more likely to feel overwhelmed and on-the-brink than happy and peaceful. Rather than enjoying the holidays, I end up frazzled and worn out and just a little bit depressed come the new year. I love Christmas but I hate what it does to my health and sanity.
It’s nobody’s fault but my own. With some Norman Rockwellian ideal of what Christmas is supposed to look like I over-book, over-plan, over-bake and generally, over-extend myself.
I forgo trips to the gym for trips to the mall. I feel compelled to make not 3 or 4 types of Christmas cookies, but 7 or 8 (wouldn’t want to forget hubby’s favorites). I get the last minute urge to host a large party with friends and neighbors, kids and all. I menu plan, relying more on traditional (high calorie) recipes than my normal clean eating favorites.
I do (almost) all the present buying for my kids as well as coming up with ideas for gifts for them from aunts and uncles and grandparents. I wrap all the presents and make sure the stocking stuffers don’t get overlooked. I used to write and address all of the Christmas cards (I gave that up a few years ago when I realized that nobody was reciprocating; what’s with that?).
Not this year. This holiday season, I resolve to find balance by making less more.
1) Plan fewer social engagements. Instead of running around from one party to the next, concentrate on those people who’s company you really enjoy. Think of the holidays as a time to re-connect with your closest friends and loved ones, not a time for putting in rushed appearances just because you feel you have to (the realtor up the street’s skating party? not happening this year). Balance ‘have to’ with ‘want to’.
2) Keep meals simple. Maintain the rest-of-the-year focus on lean proteins, whole grains and fresh vegetables. Limit special, high-fat, high-carb dishes to one per meal. Sure, Christmas traditions need to be honored, but not to the extent that your weight is up by 5 pounds come January 1st. Balance indulgences with common-sense eating.
3) Minimize holiday baking. I’m planning to limit my baking to my immediate family’s favorites; shortbread, gingerbread, fruit and nut florentines and ‘Xmas’ M&M cookies (only the red and green ones allowed!). Strike a balance between a little extra holiday baking and over-doing it.
4) Change your exercise schedule to reflect what your body needs. If shopping at the mall makes you yearn for cardio, reduce your weight training workouts and hit the trail. I’ll be dropping a few strength workouts and upping my attendance at yoga class. Relaxation is more important to my mental health this time of the year than lifting weights. Find a balance between activities that help you let off steam and those that nurture and rejuvenate.
5) Take time out for yourself. Having a house full of friends and relatives can be great fun. It can also be exhausting. Remind yourself that you’re not responsible for any one else’s enjoyment of the holidays. Excuse yourself for a quiet cup of tea, a candlelit bath or a half hour of knitting. (Chances are they need a break from you too!) Balance the energy you give to others with that you save for yourself.
Do the holidays energize you or leave you drained of energy?
What advice do you have for holiday over-achievers?