by Patricia Linderman
Parties, family gatherings, gift-buying, decorations, special foods -- the holiday season should be a time of enjoyment and togetherness, but it can also feel like a constant parade of stressful obligations and temptations.
Fortunately, pausing now for a bit of mindful planning -- even before Halloween hits -- can help us enjoy our favorite traditions and the good times with friends and family, without those awful feelings of overload and depleted willpower. So let’s get out our calendar or our smartphone, and make some October Resolutions.
Put your health first. If you have a serious illness, you don’t stop your therapy because you have to bake Thanksgiving pies or create costumes for a school play. Yet most of us neglect key pillars of our health, like exercise and sleep, for those kinds of reasons. Instead, put your quiet hours for sleep and your Pilates, yoga or other movement practice on your schedule with the same priority you would give a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting. Your self-care will pay off: a good night’s sleep and regular workouts will boost your mood, make you more resilient to stress, and give you more energy for both work and fun in the upcoming season.
Prioritize your plans. Now that your health and well-being are firmly in the number-one position they deserve, decide which traditions and events truly make the holidays come alive for you and your family. Write them down and resolve to make them happen and enjoy them to the fullest. Put the necessary planning time on your calendar too. Then -- equally important -- implement the advice of entrepreneur Derek Sivers: if it isn’t “heck yeah!” it’s a no. List the potential obligations that aren’t on your “holiday greatest hits” list, and give yourself permission to say a confident “no,” or just do the minimum without guilt (a store-bought scented candle for the teacher instead of homemade fudge).
Fight stress. Even obligations you freely choose out of joy can cause stress, like when traffic makes you late to a school event or the aunts and uncles are arguing about politics at a family dinner. List your favorite anti-stress measures and make them part of your holiday plan (and maybe try a few new ones): massage, mind-body practices such as Pilates and yoga, meditation, essential oils, walks in nature, extended breaks from screen time, music, dance, literature, or whatever works for you. Maybe you can build some of these practices into your holiday plans -- taking a group walk after Thanksgiving dinner, reading a traditional story aloud, or giving massage gift certificates to friends and family.
Plan ahead for temptation. From Halloween candy to eggnog, many holiday foods seem designed to lure us away from moderation and healthful choices. Showing up at a party and relying on “willpower” alone can feel like letting a cranky toddler decide whether or not to buy candy at the supermarket checkout. October Resolutions, made firmly in advance, can help you sail through these occasions without regrets. Your plans might include eating some protein before temptation-filled events; refilling your wineglass with sparkling water; choosing two special treats to savor guilt-free and skipping the rest; and piling up your plate with all of the vegetables and fresh fruits at the table.
Join us for a 55-minute interactive workshop, Holiday-Proof Your Health, on Saturday, November 17 at 11:00 as we further explore resolutions to help us better prepare for a season of compassionate self-care, mindfulness, and true enjoyment. During the workshop, we will share many more ideas and help participants customize a plan to fit their own needs and lifestyle. For more information or to register, contact us at 703-204-2200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia Linderman has a B.S. in biology and an M.A. in German. After growing up as the chubby, uncoordinated kid chosen last when teams were picked (and clearly confused about what she wanted to do for a living), she raised two sons in six countries with her Foreign Service officer husband and spent far too many hours at the computer writing, editing and translating. In 2014, at the age of 53, she turned her health around, lost 43 pounds, discovered her inner athlete (and Zumba dancer), and finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up: a certified health coach, personal trainer and behavior change specialist. She has just launched her own transformational coaching practice, “Fierce After 45.”