For many of us, the holidays are as stressful as they are fun. Starting with Halloween in October and going all the way until the New Year, these months are filled with social occasions, eating temptations and family obligations. When you add these things on top of time-consuming efforts to eat better and get more exercise, you can end up feeling frustrated and defeated. Here are 11 ways rethink how you manage the holidays so you can still have time for yourself.
1. Change Your Mindset. Of course, the holidays are a special time of year meant to celebrate friends and family, but we're not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence here. "Christmas may come but once a year," but it comes every single year without fail. If you're too busy to participate in every party or family tradition this year, don't worry. There's always next year! This same kind of thinking can also help you make healthier decisions when it comes to holiday eating. Yes, your aunt's gingerbread cookies are delicious, but you can enjoy a couple every year instead of feeling like you have to eat the whole tin all at once. Sweet talk her into giving you the recipe and, even if you never get around the baking them, you'll know that you can have your favorite treat anytime you want to.
2. Practice the Power of "No." The word "No" is extremely powerful and liberating. It's tempting to say "yes" to every invitation and every opportunity to volunteer during the holidays. But you'll enjoy the parties and other events more if you pick and choose the ones that are closest to your heart. There's no need to lie or to explain why you can't participate. Simply say, "I'm sorry. I already have plans for that time." Whether your plan is to make time for exercise or simply to get some needed rest, don't feel obligated to take on more than you can. This can be quite challenging, though. Force yourself to practice saying "no" in small ways. For example, try politely refusing a cookie from a well-meaning coworker.
3. Simplify Your Celebration. Holiday traditions are wonderful and help create lasting family memories, but there's no reason why you can't choose to create new traditions that better fit your current lifestyle. Do you really need to cook a meal for your entire extended family? Instead, could you roast the turkey or make another main course and ask everyone else to bring a side dish or dessert? Do you really need to buy multiple gifts for everyone? Instead, could the adults in the family draw names to create a smaller gift exchange and save other gift-giving for children? (Learn more about the idea of creating voluntary simplicity in your life.)