Credit: Thinkstock If you are like the rest of us, much of the holiday season is spent running around doing last-minute shopping, errands and getting ready for holiday parties. Even though this is supposed to be a festive time of year, we often feel that it is more stressful than enjoyable. Here are five practical tips to get you through the holidays.
1. Dont neglect yourself
This is easy to say; however, we often put our own needs and schedules on hold during the holidays to make time for holiday preparations. But don’t neglect the things that are most important to you, including making time to exercise and eat right.
The average American gains several pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and this weight is often kept on. You might not have time for your favorite hour-long class at the gym when you are running around doing last-minute holiday preparations, but you can certainly fit in a 30-minute workout at home to maintain your current fitness level and alleviate holiday stress.
2. Remember the importance of self-monitoring
Many of my clients who are trying to lose weight place too much emphasis on trying to lose weight over the holidays. My advice to them is to make a more realistic goal of maintaining their weight, which is a victory since most people gain weight over the holidays. If you know that you are prone to overeat at holiday parties and family gatherings, you may want to incorporate self-monitoring at this time of year.
Keeping a food log or exercise journal is easy to do, especially with the many smart phone apps that are available. Logging your food intake is a great way to keep an eye on what you are eating over the holidays and can help you prevent holiday weight gain. Even if you don’t stick with logging your intake after the holidays, it can be a useful tool to evaluate how you can improve your diet in the new year.
3. Choose events that are not centered on food
Holiday parties and lunches are abundant this time of year. When getting together with old friends and family, why not suggest an activity that is not entirely centered on food? Shopping, going for a walk to look at holiday lights, sightseeing or ice skating are just a few things that you could suggest. Maybe one of them will become your new holiday family tradition!
4. Pick what is most important to you
I am guilty of never being able to say “no” to anyone when they ask me for help. This includes always being asked to host all of the family’s holiday gatherings at my house. I’m learning to pick what’s most important for me and my family to do over the holidays forget the rest. It’s okay to ask for help by asking everyone to bring a dish, and it’s okay to say no to a holiday party or other event if you can’t fit it into your busy holiday schedule. Try to stick to just one event each day so you won’t feel rushed and overwhelmed.
5. Treat yourself!
The best holiday present you receive is often one that you give to yourself. Don’t neglect taking care of your own needs this holiday season. Schedule time for yourself - a quiet walk in the woods, curling up with a good book or a trip to the nail salon can leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. Feeling good about yourself will allow you to spread more holiday cheer to others.
_Carmen is a registered dietitian who specializes in weight management and nutrition therapy for chronic disease. In addition to nutrition counseling at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Carmen teaches undergraduate health and wellness courses and provides corporate wellness seminars on exercise and nutrition. _
Updated On: October 27, 2016