Holidays ask a lot from us. Even if our usual workload stays exactly the same (which it probably doesn’t), just add the extra housecleaning and decorating, a dense family calendar, countless parties, late-night gift-wrapping sessions and longer waits in traffic and at stores, and our self-care time gets more compressed than ever. What was once an hour workout is now just a daydream.
Here are five ways to add a much-needed portion of self-care to your holiday season so you can roll into the new year in your best shape, both mentally and physically.
1. FOCUS ON MAINTAINING
Maybe this isn’t the time to take on new projects or add an extra kickboxing class. Instead, look to maintain what you’ve already achieved this year. Maybe you improved your pullup game. Perhaps you ran your fastest mile yet. Whenever you can, sneak in time to keep up with those hard-earned pullups through the end of the month. Focusing on skill rather than time spent exercising improves your focus and helps hold onto valuable results.
2. USE FUEL TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Holiday meals can be larger, but a home-cooked meal also brings valuable nutrition. The protein that comes with ham, the crispy calories deliciously brought by green-bean casserole and the creamy energy infusion courtesy of pumpkin pie can also mean fuel for your muscles. Put those festive meals to good use by going on a long hike, taking the kids sledding or doing some cross-country skiing.
3. REMEMBER THE BASICS
The holidays can have such an abundance of hyper-palatable and decadent food that we may forget the simple joy of steamed veggies or a good piece of wild-caught fish. Let the indulgent tastes stay at the holiday table, and count on your nourishing, whole-food meals to keep you light and energized the rest of the season. Everyone has whole-food favorites: chicken-veggie soup, steak salad, veggie burger so lean on those to stay lean into the new year.
4. TEAM UP
For many of us, the holidays mean that more loved ones are around. While some family members and relatives may not be exercise- or nutrition-savvy, others are. Team up to play outside, sneak out to the gym, get in another 5,000 steps after lunch, pack up and split the wholesome leftovers — there are countless ways to conspire for health.
5. MEDITATE THE STRESS OUT
If there is a time when meditation is non-negotiable, it’s the holiday season. By practicing meditation daily, you will not only reduce the negative impact of added tasks and long to-do lists but may also help keep emotional eating at bay. Stay connected to your breath, your body and the present.