The Holidays: How to Get More Joy, Less Stress

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The Holidays: How to Get More Joy, Less Stress

The holidays are upon us again! Each year it seems like they sneak up faster than the year before, but I assure you, there is exactly the same number of weeks each year! One of the reasons we feel like the holidays are so sneaky is because we haven’t planned for them. Thanksgiving and Christmas comprise the busiest time of the year for most people, but with a little planning, you’ll find yourself actually enjoying this time with family and friends instead of running around like a turkey with its head cut off.Planning AheadIt’s important to start planning ahead for the holidays-months or even a year ahead. At some holiday gatherings the date is set for next year’s party, and while some may think it’s overkill, this is something you can get taken care of and get out of the way without any fuss. You don’t have to run around and check with everyone’s calendars if you’ve already selected the date, and by choosing the date a year ahead, you are more likely to pick a day when everyone will be there. Ask everyone to “save the date” for next year’s holiday gathering.Another part of planning ahead is simply making sure you know how you want to celebrate the holidays. It really does not matter who you spend your holidays with; it’s how you want to celebrate. You can create a happy healthy holiday with anyone you decide. If you don’t have family, you can create what that means to you. What’s important is that you spend the time with people you love being around. Family doesn’t necessarily mean blood relatives. The holidays can be a lonely time for some people because they don’t feel like they have anyone to spend them with, but you can make the choice of who you want to be with. The holidays are a time to spend with others, even if you aren’t close to your blood relatives.

The Food: To Eat, or Not to EatOf course food makes up a big part of most celebrations, and we all talk about gorging ourselves on special meals and feasts we never see at any other time of the year. Some people even feel compelled to eat at every stop if you visit more than one person on the same holiday, so they end up packing on the pounds by eating two huge feasts in one day. So this Thanksgiving why not make some changes that will help to trim that waste line? Then you do not have to make another resolution that you know you will not keep long term. This is the best reason to choose one set of family or friends to see on each holiday. If you are going to more than one gathering on the same day, then make it clear that you’re eating with the Smiths but not with the Joneses. You will probably have to alternate your eating habits so that no one group you spend the holidays with feels left out because you’re not eating with them.If you’re the one planning the meal, then the burden of the calories is on you (in more ways than one). While you probably feel compelled to have all the foods everyone wants to see during the holidays, there are some simple ways to control the calories and offer some healthier versions of everyone’s favorite feast foods. Turkey by itself isn’t too bad in the calories department. It offers plenty of protein and very little fat, so it isn’t a bad choice as long as you limit how much you eat. When you’re planning dessert, pumpkin pie makes a great choice because pumpkin is very healthy for you. Opt for a healthy homemade version of the dessert made with natural sweeteners, such as agave, stevia or honey, for added bonuses in the health department.While it may be tempting to forget about vegetables with all the other food around, add lots of green leafy vegetables as a big part of the meal. This way if you put a lot of veggies on your plate, you crowd out a lot of the not so healthy food choices and you get full at the same time. You also enable your family and friends to get some green into their diets and cut down on calories at the same time. And don’t forget the cranberries! They’re full of antioxidants, which are needed for cellular function at the most basic level. Cranberries pack a healthy punch amidst all those other holiday choices.Make Time for ExerciseAs if you needed something else to add to your to-do list, exercising is also vital to staying healthy and balanced during the holidays. Everyone should exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day if possible, and that regular exercise should continue during the holidays. Don’t skimp on your workouts just because your time feels stretched even more than usual. Believe it or not, you’ll get more done if you take a break and exercise daily. Make this a habit, not just for Thanksgiving or a New Year’s resolution. Exercise is necessary to keep you healthy and alive.

Exercising gets your adrenaline flowing and actually gives you energy, especially if you do it first thing in the morning. It also will help you keep the weight gain to a minimum if you are enjoying all those holiday feasts a little bit too much.Everyone needs a little more balance in their life, especially if you’re a professional woman. Constantly feeling pulled in every direction takes its toll on you. If you tend to be the one go-to person for making holiday plans, don’t forget to make time for your regular daily activities of relaxation and renewal. Read your devotions, do your prayer time, and take care of your bodily temple, even if you have to get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. You’ll find that somehow these other activities just fall into place, especially when you’ve take the time to plan well in advance for them.Have fun and create some healthy habits during this holiday season that will reduce your stress and bring balance to your life. Create more joy and trim your waist size during the holiday season. You won’t even think about New Year’s resolutions because you have formed some good habits before the holiday season that will make you healthier and happier for a lifetime.

For tons of free tools to help you accelerate your life, visit Life Accelerated at [web: LifeAccelerated .com]. Diane Randall is the founder of Life Accelerated, she helps professional women who experience stress and feelings of overwhelm improve nutrition, health, self-care and life balance. Her book Balance Being: A 7-Step System for Professional Women Ready to Harmonize, Family, Career Self focuses on providing insight and exercises geared toward professional women who need to find the perfect balance in their life.