Christmas and the New Year can be a tough period for a lot of people. Even in the best of situations, there is no shortage of delicious food and drink (and more food, and more drink), less exercise or physical activity than many of us intend to have, and likely a late night or two.
It’s definitely not the daily routine!
If you’re feeling a little guilty about how much you enjoyed the holidays, reconsider. There are silver linings that go along with a great holiday season, especially the great memories are yours for a lifetime.
Think back to what you did over the holidays. What were your favorite dishes, meals, festive beverages? Did you get to sleep in? Do some fun outdoor activity instead of cramming in a gym session or home workout before rushing off to work?
Rather than wincing at the memories, enjoy them. Don’t stress about what’s done – it can’t be changed now, and even it shouldn’t be changed, either! Fun and downtime are important, and stress and worry can actually do more damage than anything that you might have enjoyed in the last several weeks. Good memories are always worth making – for me, escaping sticky Brisbane for the beach, and daily early morning beach runs and swims more than makes up for slacking off on strength training and eating more cake than strictly necessary!
Ask yourself: Were the holiday choices I made worth the memories that go along with them?
The goal is to turn an enjoyable holiday season into a guilt free experience. You can use your above answer to make the next round of holidays even more enjoyable, with even less potential guilt around health and fitness choices.
Food and drink indulgence is a huge source of post-holiday stress. Eating is a mainstay of celebrations worldwide, and is often the chance to go all-out with treats. When your once-in-a-while treat foods are readily available, it’s very easy to have “just a little” here or there (there’s nothing wrong with enjoying this, either – see above). The key to enjoying the good stuff is to really enjoy the good stuff and leave the stuff you don’t really love alone. I’ve eaten so much low-quality chocolate in the last several weeks, and every time I do, I think about how much I don’t really like it. Why do I keep doing that? It’s one of life’s mysteries that we solved yesterday when we threw the rest of the Christmas chocolate out.
Ask yourself: What did I eat or drink that I didn’t really like, and how can I choose less of that next time?
Non-food-related: It’s also easy to let the sleep-ins and company keep us from other healthy choices we normally enjoy, whether that’s your favorite gym class or a long early morning walk. This can also lead to post-holiday guilt, and sometimes to the hassle of getting back in the habit. But catching up on sleep has its own benefits, as does reconnecting with family and friends – there is significant research showing that these are key elements in overall good health. The change of routine can also provide an opportunity to evaluate what you do enjoy in your daily routine.
Ask yourself: Were the extra hours of sleep/family connections/holiday parties worth it? What are you looking forward to getting back to?
Take a few minutes to think on these questions, and you’ll set yourself up for a good holiday season the next time around. As a bonus, you can open up your calendar or diary to 11 months from now, and pop in some reminders to help you get the most out of the holiday season, without the extras you don’t need or even want.
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