The holidays always bring joy and and a buzz of excitement for us, but they can also feel overwhelming, turning those feelings of child-like joy to stress, worry, and even sadness. Every year I remind my clients to focus on what I refer to as “Holiday Expectations and Boundaries”, and to be realistic with those expectations. You will need to relax your standards a bit this time of year, and also set up boundaries–in other words learn how to say NO. You cannot feel guilty about needing some alone time, or bowing out on a few social engagements. Your health must be your Number 1 priority.
Next I ask people to create a list of your NON-NEGOTIABLES. In other words, no matter how hairy life gets these are the things you NEED to maintain in order to have peace of mind and feel happy. These are my personal picks:
- A stocked fridge–having no healthy food (or really ANY food!) in the house makes me anxious and frustrated. Your fridge does not need to resemble the Barefoot Contessa’s, but for me having the essentials for a smoothie, a big salad, omelets, a couple easy dinners, healthy snacks for after school, and plenty of plants are non-negotiable “must haves”. Desperation takeout food at 7:00pm really makes me unhappy!
- A daily workout–I do not mean a cycling class at the gym followed by an hour long session with your trainer, but if I do not do something basically EVERYDAY to move my body, I feel grumpy and irritable. I need the mental release as much as the physical one, and a 30 minute fast walk on the golf course before school pickup immediately remedies the situation when I haven’t had time to workout in the morning.
- 7-8 hours of sleep a night–I am always amazed when I wake up in the morning to see emails and texts from friends coming in at midnight–or later! If I am not rested in the morning, my threshold for frustrating situations (and people–because everyone is frustrating when I am tired!) is minimal. No matter how busy I am this time of year, I need to prioritize my sleep to be productive the next day.
- A healthy breakfast–I kid you not when I say I cannot skip breakfast. A morning smoothie or bowl of oats before or after exercising puts me in a good mindset all day. My blood sugar is balanced, I am full of energy, and not getting “coffee cramps” at 10:00am. I am a firm believer in 3 meals a day and a snack, but if I had to pick one meal to prioritize, it is breakfast hands down. People who skip breakfast overeat later in the day and also have difficulty focusing at school or work. I cannot face a long and busy day in December without a balanced, satiating breakfast.
My list is of course, MY list, and yours may be different but I urge you to come up with your own list of 4 or 5 items that are “non-negotiables” for you before New Year’s Day. Time is scarce but knowing what you need to feel “balanced” is too important to overlook. Enjoy the season!