Realistic Strategies To Survive The Holidays
The Holidays can inspire a flurry of dichotomous feelings. Stress, joy, laughter, grief. They can feel comforting or they can feel frustratingly obligatory. They bring people together and they can also highlight old, uncomfortable dynamics.
It’s good to remember that they are just a moment in time.
Just A Moment In Time
Or, more like a string of moments. A season within a season.
In Chinese Medicine, we learn that the seasons are indicators. In winter, the days shorten and the temperature drops. The season is indicating to us that it is time to slow down, engage in a bit of hibernation, nurture ourselves, stay warm.
Right at the beginning of this energetic shift, we start running around like chickens with no heads– shopping for gifts, going to holiday gatherings, driving in rain and snow. We are moving around rapidly at a time when the energy of the land bids us to slow down.
It’s an energetic mismatch. Most feel it, but likely have not recognized it as such. We may look forward to the Holiday season but we also yearn for it to be over, so we can finally slow down and set our frequency to a more harmonious pace.
The Holidays: Overstimulation and Overconsumption
Along with the stress and overstimulation of the holiday hustle, it is also a time when people tend to overeat and consume foods that are not the best for health. This is a consequence of the ubiquitous nature of sugar-filled foods, coupled with the stress of meeting holiday demands. We may skip the gym a little more often. Suddenly, it’s February and we are 20 lbs heavier and not feeling so great.
It’s important to enjoy food, holiday and family. The last thing you want to do during a hectic time is to add strict dietary requirements to the list of things to worry about. However, it is good to anticipate the season for what it is and plan ahead.
Effective planning strategies come from two things- knowing yourself well and having the right mindset in the context of your own tendencies.
Know Yourself: The Best Strategy
Knowing yourself means being honest about what makes you vulnerable to old habits and how you deal with managing those habits. If you eat a big piece of chocolate cake are you going to be able to reset the next day and get back into your groove? Or will that one indulgence turn into a weeks-long regression into poor eating habits? Are you somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum?
The point is not to deprive yourself of the chocolate cake if you really want it. The point is to strategize your reset in a way that works for you.
The Right Mindset: Have Faith That You Can Work With Your Own Tendencies
The key is having the right mindset in the context of your own tendencies. Say you know if you get back on the sugar-carb train, it may take you a few days to reset. Ask yourself what it takes to reset? Is it getting back into your routine? Is it knowing in a day or two, you won’t be around foods that tempt you to slide back? Are you better off waiting until all this hoopla is over and things are back to normal?
Have faith that you can get back to your preferred lifestyle. It will happen. Remember that using willpower is a strategy for failure. Being real with yourself and planning in a way that works for you is the best way.
Some Realistic Strategies–
Home Is Your Neutral Zone
If you know that you will be partaking in sugary treats at the office or at social events, make sure your house is a haven of health and 100% free of sugary or high-carb foods. Many people receive cookies and candies as gifts for the holidays. It’s best to give these items away or dare I say, throw them right in the trash!
Eat Before You Go
If you know you are going to a social event that involves foods that taste good but make you feel bad, eat a small meal before the event. Make the focus of your meal protein and fat. This will turn on satiety hormones and leave you feeling content. When you arrive, you won’t be as interested in eating high-carb or sugary foods.
Some people do the opposite when they are going to food festivities. The impulse is to not eat all day to “make room” for all the food. This is not a good strategy. It leaves you wide open to bingeing on sugar and other hyper-palatable foods.
Plan A Short Fast The Next Day
Fasting is flexible and a great strategy for a reset. If you are a veteran of fasting, you can plan a 24-36 hour fast the day after a social event. This strategy should not be abused or used as a way to go overboard. Use it wisely and it will work wonders for you.
…Or Plan A Longer Fast Or More Frequent Fasts After All The Hoopla
If you know that you are going to be absolutely bombarded by all the hoopla and would prefer to get back into your routine after all the partying, this is okay, too. If you know yourself and you are capable of sticking to that plan, a great way to reset is to do a longer fast. A common one is a 2-3 day fast or you could plan several 24-36 hour fasts per/week for a month after all the festivities are over.
You’ve Got This
You’ve got this. While it may seem overwhelming, remember that for all the hype, the time we spend in celebration is not that long. Each event is just a moment in time. Always remember you are just one meal or fasting period away from getting back to feeling good!