Looking for a list of self-care activities for the holiday season? Whether you’re 19 or 99, creating a simple plan for staying healthy over the holidays will help keep you on track. #healthychoices #holidays #selfcare #SelfCareSunday

Looking for a list of self-care activities for the holiday season? Whether you’re 19 or 99, creating a simple plan for staying healthy over the holidays will help keep you on track.

The Holiday Season comes fraught with expectations (usually unrealistic), social functions (usually too many), and extended family (often stressful). The gift you need to give yourself this holiday season is self-care. Come back each Sunday this month for examples of self-care activities that will bring you peace in the season of chaos.

Looking for a list of self-care activities for the holiday season? Whether you’re 19 or 99, creating a simple plan for staying healthy over the holidays will help keep you on track. #healthychoices #holidays #selfcare #SelfCareSunday

Why We Need a List of Self-care Activities for the Holiday Season

Let’s face it, getting enough physical activity during the holiday season (unless you live in Florida or California) gets harder each day of December. When winter wraps us in her inky blanket, it gets more and more difficult to drag ourselves outside. And when the weather conspires with the lack of light, it seems like a lose-lose situation.

Maintaining a healthy exercise routine over the holidays will prevent us from experiencing that awful slump in January. We don’t have to live as if December doesn’t count and then work hard for 11 months to erase the effects of one month of let-it-go living.

In times of high stress, we need to ensure that we spend adequate time on self-care. Take time to think about your eating and exercise goals for the stretch between now and New Year’s Day.

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”

Richard Cushing

Speaking of arks, God told Noah to build the ark as a place of refuge for both humans and animals during a dark time in Earth’s history. In the northern hemisphere, our dark time coincides with the holiday season.

Although Noah had no idea how long the ark would serve as home, we do know how long the month of December lasts. Noah had no idea that it would rain for 40 days and nights, but we do know that the holiday season comes with countless unhealthy temptations.

In order to give yourself the gift of self-care this season, you’ll want to focus on three things: adequate sleep, adequate exercise, and healthy food choices.

Check out this list of self-care activities for the holiday season! Live mindfully and avoid regrets. #mindful #holidays #healthy Click To Tweet

Adequate Sleep

Getting adequate sleep actually helps regulate your appetite by balancing ghrelin and leptin hormone levels in your body. Ghrelin makes you hungry, and lack of sleep raises ghrelin levels. Your appetite-suppressant hormone, leptin, decreases when you don’t get enough rest.

Noshing non-stop at parties has more to do with the quality and quantity of your sleep than it does with your will-power. For me, getting more sleep sounds so much better than falling into the will-power-won’t-work negativity. Get enough sleep and arm yourself for facing the overabundance of food.

Don’t beat yourself up over lack of will-power! Get more rest this holiday season and you’ll find it easier to eat in moderation. #goals #holidays #food #willpower Click To Tweet

You can find out other dangers of short-changing your rest here. You need sleep, and during hectic times, you’ll want to safeguard your hours of rest. We don’t have a problem with announcing that a baby or a toddler needs to go to bed or take a nap, but we shy away from making the same pronouncement for ourselves.

If you use a planner, you can always schedule nap times and bedtimes in to your calendar and claim, “I have an appointment” when urged to stay up later.

John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the early 19th century, took a short nap every afternoon. He claimed it boosted his creativity and productivity.

Adequate Exercise

You might not want to schedule a marathon during December, but you should schedule regular exercise. A great way to exercise AND catch up with friends and family involves scheduling walk dates. Don’t just get together, get together and walk.

Looking for a list of self-care activities for the holiday season? Whether you’re 19 or 99, creating a simple plan for staying healthy over the holidays will help keep you on track. #healthychoices #holidays #selfcare #SelfCareSunday

Wear a fitness tracker or a pedometer and set step goals for the month. Better yet, compete with yourself or someone else. I set a goal to close all three of my rings on my Apple Watch during November (moving hourly, burning 600 calories by exercising, and exercising for 30 minutes).

Doing all of this while traveling meant I had to get up really early a few days, haul my exercise step with me to the hotel, and exercise my will power when I would have preferred chilling on the sofa. But I did it. I’ve set the same goal for December. Meeting my goals meant I had to set them and create a plan for achieving them.

You can also squeeze extra steps and exercise in by making a pact with yourself to only take the stairs (instead of the escalator or elevator) and park as far away from the store entrances as possible.

Create a Healthy Eating Plan

If you have a plan for eating healthfully during the holidays, you’ll find it easier to avoid mindless grazing. I handle the temptations by having an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset.

Instead of lamenting because I can’t/shouldn’t eat fudge, I give myself permission to have one piece of fudge. And if I don’t like it after the first bite, I don’t finish it. That rule goes for all food—forget what your parents told you about cleaning your plate. If you don’t like something, don’t eat it! Food martyrs don’t earn a special place in heaven.

Food martyrs don’t earn a special place in heaven. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. #mindfulness #holidayparty Click To Tweet

I have a friend who has trained as a chef and always plates our food before serving it. This leaves me with the dilemma of giant portions dueling with my desire to not offend. In the future, I’ll ask for a spare plate and serve myself smaller portions to eat at the meal and save the rest for later.

Holiday meals often come laden with more than calories. Aunt Edna’s insistence that you don’t eat enough, Uncle Bob’s joke about you looking thicker than last year, and your hostess urging you to ‘Have some more!’ can all trigger unwanted feelings and behaviors.

Have a plan. Decide what you’ll do when relatives comment on your food choices. Will you ignore them? Maybe you’ll quietly reply that you want to keep your relationship with your food AND your relatives healthy, and therefore request that they refrain from harassing you.

How My List of Self-care Activities Helped Me Through Thanksgiving

I’ve been eating differently for the past five months and planned ahead of time to eat carbs during the week of Thanksgiving. We had travel plans and I wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with everyone else.

I ate smaller portions, exercised a little more, got eight hours of sleep each night, and planned my pecan pie eating in advance. This helped me maintain a healthy relationship with food. I didn’t succumb to the, “I had one bite of pie, I might as well eat three slices,” mentality.

By planning ahead, I managed to make it through a foodcentric holiday without gaining any weight.  My self-care activities included adequate sleep, adequate exercise, and a healthy eating plan.

What about you? What does your list of self-care activities look like during the holiday season? Have you developed any special activities?

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8 Comments

  1. I too have planned for healthy eating in this season & continuing my activity which helps sleep 😉

    We have others in the family who have special dietary needs, so hubby cooks for “normal” eaters & I have the “special diet” cooking which means I get to eat GF, LF, no sugar, low carb, low fat (great Self care) & so do our guests with similar diets 😀
    Merry Christmas Anita,
    Jennifer
    Tea With Jennifer recently posted…Comfort & Joy…My Profile

  2. Chuckling over your one bite leading to three slices mentality. I’ve fallen into that defeatist attitude myself.
    We need so much intentionality to make it through the holidays unscathed.

  3. Great advice! I’ve been planning how to manage to fit in exercise during Christmas because I feel so much better when I get moving. Also aiming to have small portions of certain foods but to keep it under control.

  4. I’ve been very lax in my exercise routine around Christmas. 🙁 Having my husband home really puts a damper on my morning workout (not to mention causing havoc in my food choices), but maybe tomorrow I can get back in the routine anyway. Thanks for the encouragement, Anita.
    Lisa notes recently posted…Should You Take This Personally?My Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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