For many people, the holidays are just too much.
Too much cheesecake and cheese fondue.
Too much money spent.
Too many hot toddies.
Too many political arguments with Uncle Ted.
Too much wrapping paper flying around the room on Christmas morning.
Too many New Year’s resolutions.
Really, just too much of everything.
Aside from a fuzzy-feeling tongue, the sum of your holiday experience can feel like a hangover.
An alcohol-induced hangover is over relatively quickly, but a full-blown holiday hangover is longer-lasting. It can take months to pay off holiday debt. And if you gain weight over the holidays, frankly, it might be your new normal. (For a better understanding of why dieting backfires, grab your complimentary copy of Why Dieting Makes You Hide Girl Scout Cookies in Your Underwear Drawer by submitting your email address in the box on the right side of this page.)
But what’s worst of all is the guilt about feeling out of control.
When it feels like the holidays have you at their mercy, here are some ways to shift your viewpoint.
Many holiday traditions are cherished and fulfilling. However, if you feel like you are just going through the motions, or only maintaining some traditions because it is expected, pause for a moment and assess the bigger picture.
Does it feel like you are disrespecting your mother if you don’t make her complicated recipe for Christmas Eve dinner? Maybe there is an easier way to honor her memory. (And let’s be honest – no one likes Swedish meatballs, anyway.)
Are the expensive gifts you buy truly appreciated? Or is it possible that you are overextending your finances in the hopes that you will gain your brother’s approval?
It might sound sappy, but the most important thing for families is to spend time together. Remember in the movie A Christmas Story, when the ornate turkey dinner ends up toppling onto the kitchen floor? Certainly, this was upsetting. However, the family ends up with their most memorable Christmas ever when they have dinner at a Chinese restaurant. They adapted to the challenge, finding humor in the situation.
The Christmas commercial bombardment seems to start earlier and earlier every year. It is so easy to get caught up in consumer culture and overspend. Taking time each day to be grateful for what you already have counteracts the urge for more-more-more. Cultivating a mindset of gratitude is also a great way to decrease stress, improve mood, and increase energy. At some quiet moment during the day, jot down three or four things you are grateful for.
What’s a quiet moment, you ask? My point exactly.
This can be super simple. Every day, I see at least one hummingbird zoom over to the feeder at our kitchen window and take a drink. It never fails to make me smile.
Whether you’re facing a serving bowl of mashed potatoes, a deep discount at your local store, or getting pulled into a longstanding disagreement between your sister and your cousin, take a moment to breathe before taking action. Pausing – even briefly – helps you make decisions you are less likely to regret.
Eating intuitively often prevents overeating, even during the holidays. It’s a given that everyone overeats sometimes. However, people who recognize and honor their body’s cues of hunger and satiety are less likely to treat the occasional food fest as a moral failing. This is a qualitatively different way of being around food than most Americans are. Kicking the diet mindset creates a different environment. Rather than assuming one party or event is the kickoff for days or weeks of stuffing yourself silly, you will be able to bring yourself back to awareness very quickly and listen to your body’s cues.
What all these concepts have in common is taking time to be conscious of your decisions, rather than running on autopilot.
Take a moment to reflect rather than act on a whim. What do you notice?