Mindfulness During the Holidays
What best describes your thoughts as holidays approach?
- I look forward to being with family and friends, enjoying the fun and food of the season.
- I dread all the food I’m going to have to face. It’s just overwhelming, and I have a hard time saying ‘no.’
If you’re leaning towards the second scenario, read on for more information about mindfulness during holidays.
- Decide what’s important to you. Holidays are a time of stress for many folks, and food is a great way to manage stress…temporarily. Ultimately, it creates stress if we emotionally eat too often and end up feeling ill, or gaining weight, as a result. How can you relax in the midst of such a busy time? Often it’s about simplifying our lives…making more of what we value most such as spending time with family and friends, and less of the frantic rush to do everything ‘just right.’
- Take care of yourself first. Time off from work can mean less structure in your days. But keep your self-care routine going. Take the time to feed yourself regular and balanced meals, starting with breakfast. Pay attention to your hunger cues; we generally get hungry every three to five hours.
- Be proactive and plan for potential schedule conflicts by pre-cooking, keeping healthy snack foods in the house, and considering using more pre-made items from the grocery store during this time of the year.
- Start your day with physical activity. Research shows we may be more successful fitting exercise into our busy days if we do it in the morning.
- Move the focus of gatherings away from food. Try setting up games and puzzles on the coffee table instead of chips and dips. How about making holiday decorations instead of cookies? Put out photo albums that will move attention away from the hors d’oeuvres, at least for part of the time. Food usually needs to be available at gatherings, but we can create many more fond memories of the holidays when we branch out beyond food as the focus of this time of year.
As a final note, we encourage you to not let your food choices be influenced by external cues such as comments from other people. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what we want or need when it comes to food, so it’s good to remember that another person couldn’t possibly tell us how hungry we are or what we are in the mood for.
Try to tune out comments made by others regarding your food choices and focus on your internal cues. If needed, talk to a close friend or relative about helping you redirect conversation towards other topics when food choices become the center of the conversation.