As we approach Christmas, things seem to just get busier and busier. Between running around to different holiday events, attending various Christmas parties, last-minute gift shopping and all the other daily tasks that don’t take a break just because it’s Christmas, it can seem overwhelming, leaving you frazzled and out-of-gas by the time January rolls around. It’s no wonder holiday stress is a very real thing that some people experience each Christmas, making the “most wonderful time of the year” anything but wonderful. Many people view the holidays as a “free-for-all,” forgoing the diet and exercise habits they practice the rest of the year simply because there’s too much going on during the holidays to worry about it. This, of course, leads to many having to double their efforts in January once they form those go-to New Year’s resolutions of losing weight and exercising more. This season, though, there are some things to remember that can help you fully enjoy the holidays and start the New Year off fresh.
Blount Memorial registered dietitian Angie Tillman says some experience holiday stress specifically about their diets. “A lot of people focus so much on what they’re not supposed to eat around the holidays, that they don’t get the full enjoyment of spending time with their friends and family,” she said. “Food is everywhere, of course, with parties and snacks and dinners, but even though those temptations are more prominent this time of year, it’s important to do your best to focus on nutrition basics. This means planning and eating regular meals and snacks, purposefully including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Don’t deny yourself those tasty treats at holiday parties, but remember to enjoy them in moderation, limiting yourself to one or two pieces instead of four or five. Also, remember to drink plenty of water instead of sodas or alcoholic drinks. Again, those can be okay in moderation, but you should limit yourself as much as possible if you want to maintain your diet plan,” she explained. “Not only will these tips help you have an easier time with your New Year’s resolution, they’ll also help you think of eating well as just another part of taking care of yourself,” she added.
Second, Tillman says, focus on physical activity. “The trick here is to look at exercise and physical activity as a gift instead of a punishment,” she said. “When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed this season, remember that physical activity can be a great stress-reducer. It also helps keep some normalcy in your daily routine if you keep up the same exercise schedule you have the other 11 months of the year,” she said. “Try to do something daily, even if it’s as simple as a 20-minute walk.”
Tillman says the third component of holiday wellness is self-care. “If you’re feeling overscheduled, remember that it’s okay to say ‘no’ to an outing or event if your schedule is too full,” she said. “As always, quality time with family and friends is more important than how many events you attend. Also, take some time to recharge by yourself. Alone time can be extremely valuable this time of year, particularly if you have a more introverted personality. Also, if you’re going through a period of loss, grief or extreme stress, remember to reach out to professionals for help,” she explained.
“Finally, remember to get plenty of rest,” Tillman said. “For most people, the goal should be right around eight hours each night. The biggest tip here is to focus on going to bed earlier at night, as most of us have set schedules in the morning and get up around the same time each day. This means the only part of your sleep schedule you can control is when you decide to hit the hay,” she said. “Sleep plays a key role in things like stress management, appetite control and an overall feeling of well-being, so getting more sleep this season and every season can have multiple benefits,” she added.