Spending the holidays with extended family can turn joyous special occasions into a stressful, high anxiety, over eating, never ending events.
For the sake of keeping us out of our sweat pants and off the therapist’s couch; allow me to share my best tips for a wonderful family holiday season.
The happiness of sharing and planning together.
We all have family members who feel they need to control every aspect of holiday gatherings from meal planning to timing and family activities. Instead of one person controlling every thing “Holiday” put a group together that helps plan the holiday meals and time together. Having input and help takes a great deal of stress off one person who may feel that everything has to be perfect.
This helps create stronger relationships, eases tensions and has others feel they are part of the process that creates a wonderful family time. Family members can plan meals and take care of shopping, while others can create fun family activities. This process creates incredible bonding experiences and time together.
Don’t talk politics.
Everyone has different views and opinions. In the current political climate it is best not to start any conversations that can be heated and lead to major turmoil and family damage.
Holidays are Not the time to Diet – Don’t gain any weight.
Holiday eating from Thanksgiving to New Years can result in a weight gain of an extra 2-5 pounds. Gaining weight in such a short period of time causes us stress, low energy and lack of confidence. Then we add the stress of trying to take the weight off. There are great ways not to stress about over eating or declining invitations because you don’t want to gain weight during the holidays.
I encourage my clients to maintain their weight by keeping their normal routine, which includes exercise, eating until you are satisfied and not stuffed. If you are bringing a dish to a holiday gathering, make it something that is lower in calories that you enjoy. Eat meals sitting down at a table instead of constantly picking at food. This helps you to be more mindful – appetites are often dictated by what is going on in your immediate environment.
Let go of the past.
Don’t revert back to childhood drama and dynamics that may have been painful. Practice mindfulness breathing daily. It is a great stress reliever and can only help in keeping your blood pressure in check and creating your ability to show up and be present in the moment.
Many of us work less during the holiday season. Is there something you want to learn, try or practice? This is a great time of the year to stretch and try something new!
Share Gratitude at the Table.
This is such a wonderful heartfelt time to share and express gratitude. This is powerful, moving and creates a special memorable holiday experience. The expression of gratitude is the pathway to achieving happiness. Sharing a specific example of something that was done for you and how it made a difference in your life reminds us how much we deeply care or love each other.