October 7, 2013
Manage the Mayhem this Holiday Season
From the first Halloween trick-or-treater to midnight on New Year’s eve, navigating the holiday season is like being thrown into a health defying video game. We are forced to dodge calorie crazed villains at every turn. From the left come armies of candy corn and Kit-Kats. From the right fly Thanksgiving left overs that last weeks and apple pies on a mission. And straight ahead, rolling towards you like the giant bone crushing sphere from Raiders of the Lost Ark, come the endless celebrations of December with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, family obligations, time constraints, and financial stress pursue us mercilessly.
Yes, I exaggerate. In fact, I adore these fall and early winter months for all of the joy, love, and magic they bring. However, to avoid waking up on New Year’s day five pounds heavier, hundreds of dollars in debt, and sporting a few extra grays, you need to have a plan. Take heart. Enjoying all the delights the holidays have to offer while keeping a balance between willy-nilly and wellness is absolutely possible.
Follow these principles and skillfully traverse the temptations of the season.
Stress Less: Start by setting the tone. While you still have the time and money, invest in things that will support your serenity in the coming months. Visit your local bookstore or library to pick up some materials to create your own brand of calm. A meditation CD, a good novel or two, or a book of home spa recipes can help to create a stress relief plan that suites you. Stock up on soothing bath products or candles. Perhaps time in nature or extra sleep is what calms you. It is important to know what your own holiday stress triggers are before the season begins in order to create a solid plan to balance them with those things that bring you peace.
Move It!: With the arrival of colder weather and shorter days, many of us start to slow down, but this is the time to amp up the exercise. There are plenty of places on the South Coast to move your body regardless of what’s going on outdoors. If you can tolerate the cold, there’s nothing like a winter hike to feed your body and soul. The Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust maintains acres of nature preserve including a dozen local hiking areas such as Destruction Brook Woods in Dartmouth. If you are not a fan of the frosty air, invest in a membership at one of the many gyms or sports complexes on the South Coast or try something different like a trip to Carabiner’s Indoor Climbing Gym in New Bedford. Just keep moving! This is also the time of year when extra attention to what we are eating is critical. Keep your body full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Buy locally when you can at places like How on Earth store and kitchen.
Prioritize: Sometimes we forget that how we spend our time over the holidays is our choice. Say it with me…”It is my choice!” Easier said than done, I know. However, the more you control your schedule, the happier and healthier you will be. Think about the people who are most important to you and the activities you truly enjoy. Build your schedule around them. You do not have to accept every invitation that comes your way. If you are choosy, you will reap the benefits of quality time with friends and family.
Pass the Glass: Finally, consider cutting back on the beverages. That extra glass of wine or beer adds empty calories, inhibits judgement which can lead to overeating, and family feuds. It also zaps the energy you’ll need to enjoy all the holiday hoopla. Make a decision before you head out as to how many glasses of your favorite libation you will have and try alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks to keep you hydrated.
The wilds of the holiday season are no match for your commitment to wellness and balance. Enjoy!
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