Give yourself the best gift of all this holiday season — the permission to take care of yourself! We make plans, we shop, we cook, we entertain, and then what? The fast pace of the holidays can take a toll on our mood, energy and even our health. Add in the overeating, over drinking and break in exercise routine and you have the perfect holiday recipe for self-loathing.
“No one wants to be reminded they can’t have it all, but there is a huge cost to trying to keep up with holiday expectations.” says Jenny Conviser, Psy.D., co-founder of Insight Behavioral Health Centers and a leading Chicago expert in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders and eating disorders. “There is a middle ground we can strive to achieve somewhere between giving up holiday fun and giving up ourselves.”
Dr. Conviser offers these tips for a simplified holiday that might just help preserve your health and well-being.
Plan ahead for healthy eating – Fill the crock pot or defrost the casserole before heading out for the mall. Having a healthy dinner waiting at home will help you pass up the fast food stop. Keep healthy snacks readily available. Carry cut up fruit, veggies, nuts and water with you during the day.
Quash the quantities – Don’t allow yourself to be surrounded by large quantities of food if that poses risk for you. After the party, send guests home with extra dessert items or send dinner over to an elderly neighbor.
Keep moving – Bonding time doesn’t always have to involve eating. Share activities with the kids and relatives. Get out of the house and go ice skating, sledding, hiking or just a walk around the block after dinner.
Exercise early – Try to exercise often and early. Don’t try to fool yourself that there will be time later in the day to get in a workout, as that rarely happens. If you get it in early, you will feel better all day. Exercise brings dual benefits of greater desire for healthy foods and improved energy.
Avoid fatigue – Keep sleep a top priority. If your energy level is running on empty, you won’t be able to fully be present for yourself or your family. Also, if you are over-tired, it can be a set up for impatience, irritability and/or overeating.
Keep spending in check – Stick with a more conservative budget that won’t come back to haunt you in the New Year. Organize activities that are easy on your wallet. For example, forego an evening at the movies for game night at home.
Don’t set yourself up for stress – Reserve time and space in your holidays for the two or three traditions you value most. Be willing to let go of less valued traditions. Shop online, shorten gift lists and try to select one gift that works for many people on your list.
“Take a reflective moment to recall what you value most in previous holidays and re-create the moments that feel the most satisfying and rewarding,” says Dr. Conviser. “Keep your health and well-being in mind. Celebrate the season….and celebrate you.”
Insight Behavioral Health Centers provides treatment for mood and anxiety disorders and eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Insight offers a comprehensive program with locations in Northbrook, Evanston, Willowbrook and downtown Chicago. For more information, visit www.insightbhc.com, or call