What happened to the month all of the sudden? Time was going by so slowly, and then BAM – the holidays are upon us. To many, the holidays are a time of excess, family and social stress, and post-New Year’s regret. How can you stay centered during this time that seems to rev up to high speeds and dish out unrelenting tests of keeping to your true nature?
This question reminds me of a section of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Goldilocks tests out each of the bears’ porridge, chairs, and beds until she finds the one that is “just right.” When she finds those things that meet her needs, she eats and falls fast asleep. (Let’s ignore the part where the bears come home)
We feel better when we are just right, and naturally, like Goldilocks, we keep trying until we find this balance. But this concept of grounded and centeredness feels like an oxymoron when it comes to the holiday season. How can we be more like Goldilocks and stay away from too much of this or too little of that?
For those of us that demonstrate extremes in our behavior, like a pendulum swinging back and forth in a clock, this time of year is a true test of our ability to remain balanced. We are so bombarded with temptations to spend more, eat more, drink more, commit more, that it is difficult to avoid making unhealthy decisions. With the festivities quickly approaching, here are some strategies to keep you just right.
1. Be gentle to yourself
Give yourself permission to go easy on yourself. Remember your self-care — whatever it is that you do for relaxation and rejuvenation. Opt for a night of staying in and reading a good book or taking a yoga class when you feel the holiday stress. Cut corners when you need to. Perhaps you buy a pre-made dish instead of cooking for one of your social functions. Don’t let perfectionism take over. Know that this is going to be a stressful and temptation-filled couple of months, so don’t be shy with your TLC as you embrace this hectic time of year.
2. Turn off autopilot
When you are invited to an event or offered another drink, take a moment to really pause and reflect. Do I honestly have time for this holiday party? Do I need this cocktail? Stop and check in with yourself before accepting all that is offered to you – but also don’t hesitate to take advantage of opportunities that you will enjoy and have time for.
3. Tap into your willpower
What will make you feel better tomorrow? I know you really want that extra slice of pumpkin pie, that delicious eggnog, or that soft new sweater, but will you be better off for it? Instead, use a visual or tactile reminder, such as visualizing a motivational image or touching a special stone you keep in your pocket, to remind you of your commitments to yourself.
4. Say, “No, thank you”
Imagine you are eating at a buffet-style restaurant and you come across a food that you love but are allergic to. When you get to this dish, you simply acknowledge your dietary restriction, say, “No, thank you,” and keep moving down the food line. Use this same tactic when presented with choices that get your pendulum swinging fast. Immediately acknowledge this is too much for you, say “No, thank you,” and swiftly keep moving to the next line of business, just as smoothly as you’d pass up an allergic reaction.
5. Honor your body
See diet and exercise as nourishment for your body and not as a reward or a gift. We know when our bodies have been overwhelmed and bombarded with drink/food/ stress overload because we do not feel good afterwards. Protect yourself from bad habits of overindulging and overexertion by making a commitment to honor your body. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, alone time, and your other healthy habits, so that you replenish your sense of wellbeing.
6. Accept that mistakes happen
Without having compassion for yourself during the holiday craze, you’ll swing too far on the pendulum and, in turn, beat yourself up. If you do make a mistake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on.
The holidays are a busy time, so remember that you are a much better and more pleasant person to be around when you are centered. Just like Goldilocks, our sleep and diet are impacted when things are not “just right.” Stay within your comfort zone, and you’ll thank yourself later!