The holidays this year are going to be unlike any other in modern memory. Coronavirus numbers are on the rise across the country and around the world and are expected to continue to increase over the holidays. But as challenging as 2020 has been so far, there is still plenty to be grateful for. We may not be able to celebrate in quite the same way we always have but we still have an opportunity to make the best of it.
One of the best things you can do is to come up with a plan that helps you through it all without derailing your health and gives you a chance to still participate in the festivities.
6 Simple Tips to Survive the 2020 Holidays with Ease
- Stay active. Being active is your secret weapon this holiday season. It can help make up for eating more than usual and has many other health benefits including stress management. Walking is a great way to stay active. Walking in the woods is even better.
This is such a beautiful time of year especially with all the holiday decorations. Take a walk around the neighborhood and check out the beautiful lights at twilight. Or plan a family outing such as ice skating or snow shoeing when the snow starts to fly. You could also make a “walk and talk” date with a friend or family member to catch up on the past year.
- Eat healthy. Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars. The key is eating them only occasionally or in small portions and balancing them out with healthier foods.
What makes a goodie during the holidays? It is something you make special. If you eat it every day, it will soon lose its appeal. Focus on small portions and on savoring these little pieces of heaven.
Eating a more healthful diet including lots vegetables, fruit, lean clean protein, wholes grains, nuts and seeds and healthy fats that will help control your appetite. It will also fuel your energy which you need lots of at this time of year.
Remember, the impact of too much sugar, fat and salt is not good for you and you will start to feel it in your body. It can show up in the form of digestive issues, low energy, aching joints, and mood issues not to mention the annual five (or more) pound weight gain.
- Perfect Your Portions. When filling up your plate, load it up with veggies first. Your goal is to fill half your plate with vegetables. Then, you can add the other more calorie laden choices. This will help you to feel fuller sooner, and the best part is that you won’t feel overstuffed. Plus, it gives you room to enjoy that dessert you’ve been craving.
- Savor the Desserts. One of the most fun parts of the holidays is dessert! This can be a land mine if you are not careful but extraordinarily satisfying if you are mindful. Most of us have about ten other things on our minds particularly at this time of year. It’s no wonder that about 95% of the eating we do is mindless. You may decide to have one of those exquisitely delicious and festive cookies that you make every holiday for others but then you never focus on it. What is the pleasure in that?
Try this instead. Start with a conscious decision to eat this cookie you love without guilt. Then sit down. No really, sit down, relax and savor the cookie. Enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite will naturally help you slow down and stop when you’re full. Compare this with letting yourself be distracted by the 10 things on your list, consuming 5 or more mediocre cookies and feeling bad about yourself afterward.
- Create a virtual plan. Part of what makes holidays so special is the time spent in the kitchen with friends and families. Just because you aren’t in the same kitchen, it doesn’t mean you can’t make these holiday memories together. Find some ways to have everyone gather to prepare your holiday meal. It could be Zoom, Facetime or Facebook Messenger. There are lots of options. You may not be able to sit down together but you can keep your holiday traditions.
You can also decorate together. Pick a day and time that works for everyone to deck the halls and get connected at the end of the decorating spree to share you light, trees, wreaths or whatever you are into to spruce up for the holidays. You can also share the same preplanned hors d’ouerves and a cocktail/mocktail to make a toast and appreciate each other’s creativity.
Connection with friends and family is an essential ingredient for your mental health. Social connection strengthens our immune system, reduces inflammation, helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life. One study showed that lack of social connection is a greater risk to health than high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. It is only one study, but I think worth paying attention to.
- Give everyone – including yourself – a break. Even in the best of times managing expectations around the holidays can be stressful. But in the middle of a pandemic like we are experiencing it becomes even more vital. Be kind to yourself and others. This is a time of year we should be enjoying ourselves with the people we love and care about. The more you can manage your stress and the holiday madness, the healthier and happier you will be as turn the calendar, finally, into 2021.
This season if you decide to take a different approach to celebrating you won’t end up feeling like you’ve undone all your hard work throughout the year, and you can also have enjoyable holidays.