The holidays are definitely a special time of year. These days, however, many women wonder whether "special" means happy -- or stressful. Do you know anyone who doesn't feel more stress during holiday season? One thing is for sure: Stress is a six-letter word that can spell added trouble for many women who struggle with food, eating and weight.
A national survey of women conducted earlier this year revealed that women see stress and lack of energy as two of their top health issues. But here's where it gets interesting: Women were twice as likely as men to snack as a way of dealing with stress!
So how do you enjoy famous holiday party time that seems to start with coffee breaks at work or weekend brunches and last through dessert parties late in evening without overdoing on all those wonderful foods? Here's a list of ideas to consider that can help reduce holiday stress, boost energy and maximize your ability to make smart choices to support you in your efforts to feel well and stay healthy.
Keep It Simple
The absolute first "must" for enjoying your holidays is to keep it simple. Be realistic in what you want to accomplish…and what you expect others to accomplish, too. Discuss holiday plans with family and friends. Consider paring down your "to do" list, and get a commitment from others to share in extra holiday tasks that create extra fun for everyone.
Feed Yourself Well
A party later in evening doesn't mean skimping on food during day. All that will do is set you up for overeating because you get too hungry. Instead, eat regular, balanced meals and snacks that include grains/starchy vegetables, protein foods and fruits and/or vegetables every 3-5 hours when you are hungry, and stopping when you are satisfied.
Likewise, if you overdo it at one meal or party (and who doesn't on occasion?), don't try to "make up" for it at your next meals. Go back to your regular eating plan as described above.
Dance Night Away!
Physical activity may provide biggest boost to your ability to cope during holidays. Not only is it a natural outlet for tension (and consequently another way to cope), physical activity boosts our energy level and our motivation to keep going.
Be creative! Break out of your mold by adding opportunities of holiday season, such as dancing, skating, sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, caroling (all that walking)…even trimming tree (there's a lot of stretching there). Make fun physical activity primary focus of your parties, instead of depending on food to make or break it.
Realistically, many people find that physical activity early in day is best way to make it happen. A walk after breakfast is one of best strategies for boosting energy and helping you feel well rest of day. Don't forget those walks around shopping mall or long brisk walk in from parking lot count for something, too! (See FitBriefing Moving for Life).
Put on Parties that Work for You
This is where stress can send you straight for Christmas cookies or Hanukkah chocolate. First, plan parties where you get help. How about just being responsible for "centerpiece" dish, such as a main dish, beautiful salad or dessert, and let supermarket, bakery, and/or deli do rest. Or if you don't already have a pot luck tradition for family gatherings, now is time to start!