When I last wrote to you about how you can have happy and healthy holidays, I promised you that I would share some of my favourite tips for how to actually do it!
Before I get into the tips, I want to thank my awesome Facebook community for so vulnerably sharing their experiences, not only with their holiday season struggles, but some of the strategies they use for success with having happy and healthy holidays! (Be sure to join the conversation on Facebook if you’d like!)
And now, as promised, allow me to share my three top tips on how to have the happiest AND healthiest holiday season possible …
1. Preparation & Problem Solving
‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.’
– Benjamin Franklin
The first one is so simple, but so important. Most people just roll along with the usual script for the holiday season (we even have names for the ‘acts’, calling it the ‘Silly Season’, and expecting to put on the ‘Christmas kilos’ that we’ll struggle to lose with our ‘New Years’ Resolutions’ (and round and round we go!). So probably the most important thing I do with clients is just to be mindful of their intention to have a happy healthy holiday season by doing some planning and problem solving.
As an example, on my recent Italian holiday, I realised that it would be a food and drink heavy affair catching up with friends, so I chose to book a few days at the end by myself, just to decompress and get back to a more ‘normal’ way of eating.
Some of my clients like to be prepared for healthy eating by making healthy food options themselves (so they are available!), or to problem-solve a super common barrier to physical activity by bringing comfy walking shoes away with them … these strategies are simple, but they can make a HUUUUGEEE difference.
Benjamin Franklin said ‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’, and while we don’t necessarily need to look at it in terms of success or failure, it is important to note that a little bit of planning can go a long way!
2. Healthy Holiday Eating Is Intuitive Eating
I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about intuitive eating before. Intuitive eating is so great (for so many reasons!), but it really comes into it’s own during holiday seasons.
This is because it grants you permission to eat your favourite foods (if you don’t do this over the holidays you end up depriving yourself … or trying to until you eventually give in and feel guilty for eating the Christmas pudding, which sucks, because the Christmas pudding is probably bloody delicious!).
Intuitive eating also helps as it’s about listening to what your body wants. While your routine often changes during holiday seasons – your normal food may not always be available, and eating times may differ – your body is always there with you. So when you master the art of intuitive eating, you can eat well anywhere, under any circumstances, and without a meal plan (which you probably weren’t going to follow anyway!).
As an example, on my holiday I spent a week in a Tuscan villa with all foods catered and no shops around. Intuitive eating allowed me to enjoy all the foods I wanted, completely guilt-free and to eat in a way that my body liked, as I have learned to intuitively eat what makes my body feel good.
Think it’s impossible? It’s totally not!
If you’d like to learn how, here’s a blog I wrote about mindful and intuitive eating at Christmas time, and here’s a video* that shares a little more about why intuitive eating helps you eat flexibly and healthily during the holiday season.
3. Move For Your Mind
We all know that physical activity is good for your body, but on holidays I particularly love to move for my mind.
Whether it’s Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, school holidays, or a family or solo vacation, there is generally a fair amount of emotional discomfort thrown in there with all of the fun, relaxation, and change of scenery!
The good news is that physical activity acts as a ‘stress inoculator’**, creating powerful neurochemical changes that make you more resilient to the inherent emotional challenges that present during the holiday season.
Over years of encouraging my clients to move for their minds, I have witnessed that taking some time out to move their bodies has helped them deal with the stress of mammoth Christmas cooking marathons, annoying and upsetting comments made by relatives, and the variety of complex emotions that can come from getting close friends and family together for significant events.
Friends and family may feel you’re being selfish for taking this time out for yourself***, but they’ll appreciate a more chilled, tolerant, and fun you on the other side!
And there you have it – my three top tips on having a happy and a healthy holiday season. Please think of these ideas as a buffet – feeling free to take anything you want, and happily leaving the rest ☺
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the tips – and your experiences as you try to implement them into your holidays – so please be in contact if you have anything you’d like to share with me!
I’m really appreciating all of your feedback on what I’m writing about having happy healthy holidays (it seems this is a challenging area for a lot of people!), and I wanted to delve even deeper into it with you, so here’s a FREE webinar that I hosted on the topic ☺ ☺ ☺
Yours in having happy healthy holidays,
*It’s Tip 1 in the video – I’ve linked you straight through to the time of the tip as it’s the one on intuitive eating, but feel free to watch the whole video!
**K. Mikkelsen, L. Stojanovska, M. Polenakovic, M. Bosevski & V. Apostolopoulos (2017). Exercise and mental health. Maturitas, 106: 48–56.
***My tip is to do it in the morning, before the day runs away on you, if you can. This is also often a time when it will least effect others!