Three Tips Balance Your Plate This Holiday Season
Can you believe that Christmas is almost here!?! As we gather with family friends, far and near, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year! And it can also be a stressful one, given holiday parties, office gatherings, year end work deadlines and of course finishing up our last minute holiday shopping. How many of you are finding that your plate is a little too full as we approach the end of the year?
As we hustle and bustle to cross of our lists, it’s important not to lose sight of the most important person in your life – YOU. Here are three tips to help you balance your plate this holiday season:
1. Say NO authentically
According to Harvard behavioral scientist, Sendhil Mullainathan and Princeton economist, Eldar Shafir, being short on time makes it more difficult to say no. In other words, the busier we get, the more prone we are to say yes – Wait… WHAT?!? Our default is typically to say yes, because telling someone no often feels uncomfortable. When we are stressed and tired, we tend to act habitually.
One of the ways to overcome this is to think about how you’ll address requests for additional demands on your time in advance. Yes - practice how you plan to say no. Will you respond by telling someone you have a prior engagement, or that you are already at capacity and can’t take on additional requests? Research shows us that when we have a plan of action, we are more likely to stick to our original intention. Practicing in advance also increases your comfort level and helps you to feel more authentic, thoughtful and kind in your delivery. So, start practicing!
2. Give yourself permission to eat whatever you want
We often approach the holidays with extreme, black and white thinking. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle does not have to be all or nothing. Yes, food is in abundance, everywhere we turn, during the holidays. However, that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself certain foods, or skip meals, or over exercise after you’ve indulged. Simply giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat and enjoy food, helps us reconnect with what our body needs and wants.
What I also often see with my clients during this time is eating food at work or at gatherings simply because it’s there. You see donuts or sugar cookies in the break room, and you eat the donuts and sugar cookies. What’s the result? Eating food mindlessly leaves us feeling unsatisfied and still searching for more food. Sound familiar?
Instead, let’s be intentional about the foods we eat this holiday season. Let’s focus on eating more of the foods we love! Indulge in those special foods that you’ll probably only see during the holidays, and eat less of the foods that you don’t care for.
Here’s my own example. I flat out don’t like sugar cookies. No matter how many different ways they are decorated, they all just taste like colored sugar to me. I need more richness and depth in my desserts, like chocolate. You guys already know I’m a chocoholic, right? Bring on the dark chocolate almond bark, and while you’re at it, add red velvet cake to that request too!
Some may find it hard to trust their body to indulge and to know when enough is enough. In most cases this is typically because you’ve lost touch with your body and with the physical experience of hunger and fullness. You don’t know how to eat for pleasure and satisfaction and how to enjoy quality foods versus quantity. If this describes you, mindful eating can be extremely beneficial. Don’t know where to start? Then download my free guide with tips to master mindful eating here.
3. Recharge your batteries
No matter how busy things are as we close out this year, don’t lose sight of what you need to feel your best. It’s critical to be crystal clear about your basic needs. Have you identified what you need daily to feel resilient and grounded? Is it adequate sleep, exercise, regular meals, your morning coffee or tea, breaks in between meetings or quite time to yourself? Whatever it is you need, choose to honor it daily.
One of the easiest things that we can do to find calm amongst the chaos is simply to pause; to stop and take a few deep breaths to settle our mind. Breathing forces more oxygen into the body and helps to calm our nervous system. It allows us to assess and observe what’s happening in our body and what emotions we’re feeling. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the general principles of correct breathing are to make it deeper, slower, quieter and more regular. What most people don’t realize is just how shallow their breathing actually is; how tense they are going about their day. This can leave us feeling drained and depleted. A simple deep breathing exercise only takes a few minutes and can be done in a few easy steps.
- Sit upright and comfortably in your chair (or you can do this lying down).
- Inhale slowly through your nose for ~8 seconds, focusing on the sound of your breath, breathing deeply into your lower abdomen.
- Exhale through your nose for ~8 seconds, contracting your abdominal muscles as you breathe out.
- Repeat as much as time allows.
The holidays can be an extremely busy time. By authentically saying no, finding the joy and pleasure in food and honoring our daily needs, we can give ourselves the perfect gift of the season – self-love.