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  • Nanci Miklowski, ND

Surviving the Holidays

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

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The holidays can be an enchanting time! Decorating, spending time with friends and family, eating delicious food. But it can also be exhausting and overwhelming. Finding the time and energy to decorate, dealing with an overbooked schedule, feeling sluggish and bloated from all that delicious food. To avoid the latter, it is essential to create and maintain boundaries for your own mental and physical health and well-being. We have all heard, “You need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” This is obviously essential while on an airplane, but it is also crucial for surviving chaotic times like the holidays. Below are 10 tips to help you calmly and healthfully sail through this holiday season.

1. Spoil your dinner. No, that doesn’t mean eat dessert first! If you know you have plans that will involve lots of holiday treats, eat a large, healthy snack before you leave. This could consist of some leftovers from a well-balanced meal you prepared earlier in the week, or something as easy as raw vegetables and hummus. This will help prevent you from showing up ravenous and overindulging.


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2. Choose wisely. Again, the holidays are a time for delicious food. These treats are just that – treats. Therefore, I never suggest total avoidance of holiday sweets and/or rich foods, but I also don’t condone not having boundaries. Before grabbing a plate, survey all the offerings and carefully select a few items that are worth the splurge.


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3. Limit your drinks. Holiday beverages, like champagne, egg nog, and hot cocoa, are not calorie-free and are often loaded with sugar. Again, choose wisely and limit it to one drink. After that, stick with water or herbal tea.


4. Eat in slow motion. You know those commercials where the person takes a bite of something delightfully appealing and takes the whole time to chew just that one bite? Do that! Chew slowly and deliberately, savoring every molecule of goodness in your mouth. Eating consciously will help you feel satisfied and full.


5. Exercise. Okay, this is nothing new. We should always exercise. But with the holiday chaos, it can be difficult to find the time. Aim to workout at least three times a week, even if it is for a short period. I really like the “Seven Minute Workout” because it really does take just seven minutes. Exercising will help combat the extra calories consumed and keep your spirits high during a potentially stressful period.


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6. Just say no, thank you. The holidays can cause a jam-packed schedule. Some thrive on this. Others, like myself and my fellow introverts, can very quickly feel overwhelmed and anxious. You are never obligated to do something, no matter what guilt-trip Aunt Jo is giving you. Choose the events that elicit excitement and politely pass on the ones that don’t.


7. Stay grounded. Every family has its dysfunction and acknowledging that can help prevent you from provocation. If you find yourself getting wound-up, politely excuse yourself and find a quiet place to have a few minutes of alone time. During this time, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Four-square (or box) breathing is wonderful practice to help calm and ground you.


8. Create a mantra. Being around family can sometimes cause us to revert back to our childhood or teenage self, which may not be a pleasant experience for some. If this is the case for you, create a mantra and repeat it to yourself over and over while you travel to the event. An example: “I am a successful, kind, and patient 32-year-old woman.”


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9. Find pleasure. For almost everyone, there is something magical about the holidays. Take a few moments to think about what really makes you love this time of year and make a point to incorporate it into your every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Let’s say you really love holiday light displays. After dinner, bundle up, go for a walk (a way to combine with #5!), and admire your neighbors’ hard work.


10. Let go of expectations. Try not to expect this to be the “best holiday ever” or the year that Uncle Joe doesn’t drink too much and start ranting about politics. Putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or others will only add very unnecessary stress. Stay present, stay grounded, and do your best to enjoy what actually comes to pass.


Happy holidays everyone!


In Health and Happiness,

Dr. Nanci


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