Have Your Happiest and Healthiest Holiday Season Ever
It is possible to experience a truly joyful holiday, which is the intended original meaning behind the season. The meaning, however, gets buried amongst all of the commercial hype and pressure to create some mythical “perfect” holiday for you and your loved ones. Do the commercials make you think that a “perfect” holiday is one where everything is perfect (the food, the cards, the decorations in a perfectly clean home and lots of perfectly selected and wrapped expensive gifts and you look perfect and rested and full of joy and everyone is happy)?
Well, what would a perfect holiday really be like? All of this depends on you deciding what is most important to you. Maybe it is one where you have extra free time to be relaxed and rested and you find yourself filled with joy and love and sharing that positive energy with others. If that is your priority, then it is easy to make it a reality this season.
For the fun of it, I looked up the true definition of holiday. Much to my surprise, this is what I found:
The definition of holiday: A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.
Wait a minute, a day when no work is done? Since when do the holidays mean no work?
In order to make everything perfect like the commercials, it takes a ton of work and stress etc. Then, after the holidays are over, we are not rested (from doing no work) but instead we are tired and in debt and in need of a detox diet to try to lose all the weight we gained and get our energy back. It is common for folks to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this time of year too as a result of all that we have overdone over the holidays.
After reading a wonderful article by Elizabeth Scott M.S. on how to relieve holiday stress, I realized that the holidays bring about the syndrome of too much and not enough. Our life is filled with extremes during the holidays such as eating too much, drinking too much, doing too much, spending too much and too much togetherness with the wrong people. At the same time we do not rest enough or relax enough or exercise enough or eat healthy enough or drink enough fresh water. Doing too much of the wrong thing is a recipe for disaster leaving us feeling sick and tired and unfulfilled. It is simple to get through the holidays feeling happy and energized by considering some simple points.
What causes holiday burn out?
The Syndrome of Too Much:
- Doing too much – by trying to make everything perfect. Is it really necessary to send a card to every person you ever met even though you haven’t spoken to him or her in years? Is it really critical that every corner of your home is perfectly clean and immaculately decorated? Is it really necessary that you bake a million cookies and attend every function whether or not you really enjoy it? Maybe some of these things are important to you so YOU need to decide what your priorities are – not some commercial on TV.
- Eating and drinking too much (of the wrong foods and drinks). Now hopefully you know what this means to your emotional and physical health but what about your reputation? We all know what can happen to create embarrassing moments when we drink too much. Well, I would not suggest doing this at the office party this year!
- Spending too much time with people that you have difficulty getting along with. Spending some time with friends and family is a wonderful thing but if you have folks who you feel insult you or where relationship challenges abound, then try not to overdo togetherness to that which is healthy for both you and them.Also, practice thinking more positive thoughts about that person or about how your time with them will be. Better thinking creates better outcomes for everyone. Give it a try!
- Spending too much money. Overspending can cause stress after the holidays for months to come as you try to pay down the debt of huge credit card bills from overzealous attempts to make others happy.
And the syndrome of not enough:
- Not enough rest
- Not enough of eating healthy foods and drinking fresh filtered or spring water
- Not enough exercise
- Not enough time spent with those you truly care about or possibly you find yourself alone for the holidays
So how can you reduce holiday stress and exhaustion and increase the feelings of holiday joy and vitality?
It’s actually simple. Try deciding what your true priorities are for the holidays. If you are sending cards to too many people who you don’t even know anymore because you feel you have to, then reconsider. Are you causing yourself too much stress trying to bake 100 batches of cookies? Then consider purchasing some nice cookies from your favorite bakery this year instead or just simplify it down to just the one cookie that is everyone’s favorite.
There you go – keep it simple. I do believe sometimes in the statement that less is more. By simplifying, you will have more time to relax or spend time doing the things that truly bring you joy and joy is what you want to feel and share with others. You can enjoy the holidays in the fullest way possible by not overfilling your to-do list.
How to do it:
- Write down your intentions of what you want to experience this holiday season. Get descriptive about how you want to feel both emotionally and physically. This will help you to gain clarity on what is most important to you.
- Set your priorities based on your intentions. If you want to feel more rested and energized, then one priority may be to get to bed a bit early on the evenings when there are no functions to attend. Or maybe it is spending time with a particular friend or loved one, then knowing this will help you to make room in your calendar. My priority each year is to make this one special cookie that my Nonna from Italy always made each Christmas. It is such a deep and important memory for us all that I would rather spend time doing this then other less meaningful tasks like writing and sending 100 cards.
- Create a basic plan that gives you goals of completion and timelines. This does not need to be complicated but it will help you to see if you are going to have enough time to do the things you listed to avoid feeling overwhelmed. This may also help you to avoid procrastinating will help you feel calm and in control.
- Create a spending budget to give yourself some comfortable guidelines, which will help your new year to be happier and calmer too.
- Eliminate low priority tasks that you just don’t have time to complete. Be ready to mark things off the list if time is running short. Knowing your priorities first makes this a much easier decision.
- Learn to say no to too many demands on your time and resources made by others unless it is a high-priority item on your list and part of your intentions. Learning to say no to others and to yourself can be very liberating.
- Learn to delegate some tasks to a home cleaning crew or a local bakery or deli for some of the cooking and baking. Taking a few short cuts may mean the world in terms of holiday enjoyment for you. Others will remember more your happy mood than the fact that you baked 100 cookies.
- Get plenty of rest. When you sleep, you body not only rests and rejuvenates but it heals and detoxifies too. It is amazing how much easier it is to deal with stress when you are well rested.
- Eat lots of healthy fruits and veggies to fill you up to help avoid overeating too many high fat high sugar foods (be sure to see my article on mindfulness for the holiday to help make good food choices).
- Drink plenty of water to keep every cell of your body and brain working smoothly to give you energy and clear thinking.
- Get some exercise, preferably outside – even if it is cold. Getting outside to experience some daylight is key for avoiding seasonal affective disorder.
- Don’t forget to take your vitamin D3 as this is difficult to get in the northern latitudes during the cold months. Better yet, travel someplace warm and sunny!!
- Do something truly nice for someone or volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. If you are feeling down or alone during the holidays, then doing things for others in need will greatly boost your spirits and provide fulfilling interactions.
- Remember to breath! Deep breathing exercises throughout the day will help to keep you calm and thinking clearly.