The holidays are meant to be a time of rest, relaxation, hibernation, gratitude, and togetherness. Unfortunately, modern society and commercialism have changed the meaning of our traditions. We no longer slow down to reflect and celebrate with the ones with love. Instead, we work ourselves even harder to afford the material gifts we feel so pressured to buy, and we celebrate by overindulging in foods that only increase our stress.
To combat the holiday blues and get back to the real meaning of the season, here are three different areas of wellness to start focusing on, with healthy tips and solutions to bring with you into the new year.
Mental wellness and combating anxiety
As the end of the year approaches our mental health is usually the first in terms of overall wellness to become unbalanced. Between the holiday stress, seasonal depression, and self-reflection, it can be difficult to find the joy we once felt as children during this time of year.
If you have not yet started a self-care routine, now is the perfect time to develop one! Start by penciling in the time to yourself and say no to anything that tries to get in the way of that. Even if only for 15 minutes a day, take a moment to step away from whatever is keeping you busy. Take a walk in the cold, brisk air and focus on your senses. What does it feel like to be cold? What do you hear? What do you see? Focus on your breath and repeat positive mantras before returning to what you were previously doing. Doing this allows you to enjoy being in the here and now, replacing your negative emotions with gratitude for the present.
If this time of year induces feelings of anxiety and depression, you’re not alone. Click here to read the post: Charlie Brown’s Guide to Holiday Depression.
Physical wellness and nutrition
Much of our end-of-year stress and anxiety can be controlled by giving a little extra attention to our physical wellness. Living a more active lifestyle can help keep some of that stress at bay. Try starting each day by completing a quick guided yoga session on YouTube, take a walking break in the middle of your workday, and get in a cardio or weight lifting session before you head home for dinner. Of course, not many of us can realistically fit this into our schedules every single day, but even implementing three to five days of exercise per week reaps significant physical and mental benefits. Not only will you begin to feel less bloated and more toned, but working out will give you more energy and can help clear your mind of negative thoughts.
Nutrition comes hand in hand with physical activity when trying to control stay healthy and stress-free. Some may even argue that if you had to choose between diet and exercise, you should choose diet. There are so many factors that keep us from eating healthily throughout the year– busy schedules make it tempting to grab take out on the way home and working at an office makes it easy to take one of those donuts up for grabs in the kitchen. The holidays only intensify those urges and increases opportunities to consume foods that make us feel bloated, sluggish, and depressed. Reports suggest that the average person gains between seven to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year, setting you back when entering the new year and putting you at risk for weight-related diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
If comfort food is causing you to gain weight, consider joining a guided weight loss program that allows for flexibility in moderation so you don’t have to feel like you’re completely missing out on holiday celebrations. Check out this page dedicated to healthy and easy-to-make meals. Try bringing a few of these dishes to your next holiday party so you don’t have to feel like unhealthy options are your only choice!
Resolutions and goal setting
How many times have you made resolutions in December, but completely forgot about them by January or February? Chances are, you’ve set goals that are either too big or too broad. This year, try sticking to one thing– and get specific! Instead of setting out to “lose weight” this year, it helps to first focus on the bad health habits you currently have that need to be changed. Instead, focus on making it a goal to cut out processed foods, meal prep every Sunday, or quit smoking so workouts become easier and not so dreadful. From there, come up with your next step towards weight loss by writing out a measurable and achievable goal, for example, getting in a half-hour workout three times per week. Once you’ve mastered that, increase your goal to four days and so on. Setting smaller, more attainable goals and reevaluating as you go is much more effective than simply deciding on January 1st that you want to lose fifty pounds this year.
For more information on goal setting read this post on how to write a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many, but with a little effort, the holidays can provide us with a great opportunity to evaluate our current mindset and habits, and can set us up for our happiest, healthiest year yet!
Dear readers: This article was submitted by a wonderful guest author. I’d like to send out a great big thank you for the insightful and informative article that was shared with my readers.