"Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family."
~Mother Teresa of Calcutta
While many of us gracefully navigate the holidays, others find this time of year completely overwhelming. Finding time to honor your commitment to self-care can be challenging, but it must be made a priority. Remain faithful to your regular exercise routine as much as possible. Plan your physical activity routine in advance (don't leave it up to chance). If you are working deadlines and still need to cram in some holiday shopping, find windows where you can grab a quick walk or perhaps do your 10-minute cardio workout - try it more than once - spaced throughout the day. Park far away at the grocery store or mall. When you get home, take several trips out to the car if necessary rather than trying to negotiate 5 bags all at once. Remember to smile.
Allow the holiday spirit to move you, literally and figuratively. Cut back on those television specials -- haven't you seen them a hundred times anyway? Create new family traditions that are healthier, more fun and active! Be adventurous. Try something new. Take a brisk walk, jog, or hike around the neighborhood to check out holiday decorations. If you're feeling more adventurous, head out to the nearest trails or outdoor skating rink. The physical activity will support you in so many ways, including helping to alleviate some of the holiday stress.
You may be tested more than ever to overeat. Overcome the urge by #1 being prepared and #2 remembering to always do your best. You can be better prepared to battle the buffet table when you drink plenty of water during the day, make sure to have some protein and a light snack before you hit the buffet and stay conscious of your portion sizes. Always choose the smallest plate available when there are options at the buffet. Your brain will perceive it as a larger portion. Select just a few of your favorite foods and leave a few of the extra fatty, extra sugary selections behind. Load up on veggies, fresh fruit. Limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage and actually experiment with drinking that after you've eaten. Alcohol has a sneaky way of impairing our best judgment when it comes to making healthy food choices.
If you are a person who loves to bake during the holidays, you can still do that as there is much joy involved in the process. See how you can healthify your favorite holiday recipes whether it's cutting the sugar, using whole grain flours, cutting the saturated fat, experimenting with other natural sweeteners (maple sugar, coconut sugar, yakon syrup), choosing organic ingredients like organic milk and eggs - this will impress the recipients and make for a more conscientious offering. Remember, just because something is organic or whole grain doesn't mean it's good for you, so like most things, moderation is key.
When you make time for yourself, you'll actually have enough time for others and show up in with more energy and in a better mood. Create new traditions that support you and your loved ones on a deeper, more holistic level. Think of creating new rituals that serve the greater good - not only for yourself and your family but for the world - for they go hand in hand. Give gifts that make a difference on the planet. See if you can resist the urge to buy something/anything just because it's there and you don't know what else to do. Give and live from the heart and you will be received with love and respect.