How can we be more mindful around the holidays?
How do we create the homeostasis between our desires to connect with those around us and the desires we have to not consistently overindulge ourselves? We are fully into December now. Thanksgiving has passed and holiday parties are abundant..
This can be particularly distressing if you are working towards a healthier you. There could be conflicting desires within you: between tradition and your personal intents/goals; dad’s delectable pumpkin pie (with the homemade whipped cream) and your blood sugar; or maybe that delicious family restaurant-style meal and your willpower to control portion sizes; and much more.
“Mindfulness offers many benefits throughout the year, but can be especially helpful during the holidays, even beyond healthful eating. Purposefully focusing your attention on the present can help you embrace companionship, connectivity, and overall contentment and help make the season more meaningful for you.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10-tips-for-mindful-eating-just-in-time-for-the-holidays-201511248698)
It’s no secret – we congregate A LOT around food over the holidays. It’s a beautiful thing, too! Food brings us together. Sports bring us together. Games and many other things, too! (Yes, drinks, too, hehe).
Below are a few tips I’ve come up with as well as ones I’ve sourced (and will reference so you can look at the rest of the articles, too)! Side note: these tips can be used all year long!
- Reflect. Before you begin eating, take a moment to reflect upon how you feel. Are you rushed? Stressed? Sad? Bored? Hungry? What are your wants, and what are your needs? Differentiate between the two. After you have taken this moment to reflect, then you can choose if you want to eat, what you want to eat, and how you want to eat.
- Give gratitude. Before you start to eat, pause and take a moment to acknowledge the labor that went into providing your meal — be it thanks to the farmers, the factory workers, the animals, mother Earth, the chefs, or even your companions at the table.
- Put down your utensil. Often, we are already preparing the next morsel with our fork and knife while we are still on our previous bite. Try putting down your utensils after each bite, and don’t pick them back up until you have enjoyed and swallowed what you already have in your mouth.
- Resign from the Clean Plate Club. Many of us were brought up to finish everything on our plate and were not allowed to leave the table until we did. It’s okay to cancel your membership to the Clean Plate Club. Consider packing the leftovers to go, or just leaving the last few bites. Even though nobody likes to waste food, overstuffing yourself won’t help those in need.
- Let go of judgment—both for yourself and others. Conflict with family and friends during the holidays can lead to judgment and self-criticism. Whether you’re blaming your partner for not helping you prepare the holiday dinner or feeling disappointed in yourself when looking back at your year, notice when you’re making judgments. Take a step back and try to loosen those feelings of being “bad,” “wrong,” or “inadequate.” Even if it’s hard to let go of criticism completely, simply notice when it is happening and let those thoughts be without entangling yourself in them to give yourself distance from the feeling.
- Balance the “should’s” with awareness of your own needs. Holiday obligations can be important but be sure to balance them with awareness of your own needs. Operating on obligations alone and trying to please everyone’s expectations can lead to resentment and burnout. Rather than focus solely on planning the perfect dinner or getting perfect gift, observe how these expectations affect you. Make sure to take the time and space you need to nourish yourself in the meantime.
- Practice self-compassion. During a busy holiday season, don’t forget to take care of yourself and be good to yourself. Get regular sleep and exercise and take time to do relaxing or fun things so that you can recharge. Taking care of yourself allows you to be able to be more attentive and calmer when you’re with others during the holidays. You may even find that when you take care of yourself, it is possible to be kinder and more giving to others— all keeping in the holiday spirit.
You don’t need to fret over the holidays but rather you can find enjoyment from them – in anything from a day off and all to yourself to a big family gathering. Whatever your circumstances are, find ways to find joy and take great care of you this holiday season, and beyond!
We can help support you and your health, fitness, and overall wellness goals through the holidays and beyond. Want to explore? Apply for an Exploratory Session today and let’s have a conversation about it.
Happy Holidays to you!!