First of all, I cannot believe how quickly October and November are flying by. November is my birthday month, so I am always excited when it rolls around, even though it usually feels like an eternity having to wait all the way until the 29th to finally celebrate! This year that has definitely not been the case. I don’t know if I’ve had more on my plate and the days are simply more full or what, but I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden Thanksgiving is tomorrow and the big 28 is right around the corner. While I love the holidays and spending time with my family and friends, the parties and shopping and planning and wrapping and decorating and baking and cooking and everything else can get so overwhelming! In honor of the (full) holiday season, here are my top 5 ways to stay sane through the holidays!
It seems so easy, and if you’re like me and have ever thought, “I don’t want to be uptight, I’d rather just go with the flow,” I promise there’s another way! The only thing that levels the playing field across us all is time – we all have 168 hours in a week to accomplish whatever we desire. Scheduling out your days, even including your drive time, will help you feel more in control and know that whatever comes up, you have a plan for how and when it is getting done since it is already in your calendar. If you are looking for some practical tips to taking control of your time, I would highly recommend picking up Chad Cooper’s book Time Isn’t the Problem, You Are. He discusses numerous strategies for taking control of your time and how to use time to work to your advantage instead of feeling like you are always racing against the clock. This has been incredibly helpful for me leading up to the holidays, and I am definitely going to keep at it through the next 6 weeks!
Holidays and vacations can sometimes equate to laying on the couch and binge watching Netflix most of the day (*guilty!*). While it is so important to allow our bodies to rest, it is also critical to keep our bodies moving – especially with all the yummy sugary treats so readily available! This doesn’t have to mean you renew that gym membership yet (right? Just save that until January when everyone else does it!), but walking for 15 minutes in the morning and evenings, or once a day for 30 minutes, can make a big impact in how you feel physically and emotionally through the holidays. Doing nothing for 5 days may not change your weight, but internally your body starts going through huge changes – good cholesterol decreases, bad cholesterol increases, insulin sensitivity decreases, and your heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently begins to decrease. Even though you may not see it, internally your body definitely feels it. Elevating your heart rate and doing something active will kickstart your metabolism, help you curb sugar cravings, make you feel more able to respond to stress, and put you in a better mood.
3) Be Mindful of Sugar
Cookies, pies, cakes, candy, fudge…the list of yummy treats goes on and on through the holiday season! Sugar is everywhere and can easily sneak into other, less obvious holiday items like hot apple cider, hot chocolate, or eggnog. Not only is sugar sneaky, but eating excess sugar makes you experience more cravings, feel hungrier sooner, increase inflammation in your body, and is highly addictive. When it comes to weight gain, sugar is more of the culprit than anything else. Even though it can be tempting, a little self-control (and healthier substitutions) can go a long way when it comes to your physical and emotional health this holiday season.
When life gets stressful and you feel overwhelmed these next few weeks, reach for that bottle…of water! See number 3 for why to pass up sugary drinks, but alcoholic drinks can also be high in empty calories. Caffeinated drinks can also make you feel better in the moment, but caffeine can lead to increased anxiety and difficulty winding down and sleeping, so drink sparingly. Water is the best medicine because it helps flush your body of toxins, increases your energy, improves your complexion, boosts your immune system, prevents headaches…the list can go on! It may not always seem like the sexiest choice, but amidst all the stress your body will thank you for it!
and last but not least….
5) Slow Down
Above all else, remember that what makes the holidays so special is getting away from the hustle and bustle of our daily routines, spending time with the people we love, and remembering all the things we have to be thankful for. Take time to breathe! It seems so simple, but focusing on breathing from your stomach instead of your chest, and inhaling and exhaling for at least 4 counts each will help slow your heart rate and quiet your mind. Driving can be a great time to do this, but it can really be done at any time throughout the day. As you breathe out, release the long to-do list constantly running through your head. Be thankful. Invite peace and joy into your heart. Reminisce on this past year. 2017 is right around the corner, and with it comes opportunities to invest in the life you were meant to live. Did you make the most of 2016? Are you being the person you want to be? Slow down and celebrate the beauty around you, both internally and externally. Be thankful, and your whole mindset will change.
In the midst of the crazy, remember to take a breath and pause. Smile at the people around you, the memories you’re making, the love that you’re sharing. Pretty soon, the decorations will come down and the new year will start. These are the times to cherish. Remember all you have to be grateful for and you’ll have no problems keeping your sanity. <3