22 Dec Enjoyment Is Healthy
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts on how to stay healthy over the holiday season. They are mostly lists of supplements to take and very useful recommendations to limit sugar and junk food, sleep well and minimize stress.
These are all truly helpful, though a lot of health revolves instead around the stories we tell ourselves.Take a minute to reflect: Is your holiday story one of chaos or enjoyment?
Right now my own thoughts are fluctuating from warmth, love and sentimentality for the season, to, “OMG it’s an expensive time of year and I am stressed OUT!”
This winter I am practicing giving myself permission to be with what is.
This is a real way to “minimize stress.”
When I tell myself the story that I’m okay, my plans are good enough, and not everything will go off without a hitch, my stress levels go way down.
My friends laugh at me because I have an alarm in my iPhone that goes off at the end of October saying, “Start Christmas!” I set it up a few years ago when I enjoyed an easy holiday season because I planned and shopped and did things early. By the time December came around I didn’t have much to do but enjoy the things I’d set up.
Epic Fail Holiday 2015: This year I saw my alert and remembered how calm I felt that easy breezy year, but I did not begin my preparations early. I let week after week pass without doing any prep. So here it is, the week before Christmas and I really have a lot to do. Last night as I was reviewing my list I thought, I can freak out — or I can focus on what I will enjoy.
I thought, what would happen if I allowed myself to be imperfect?
So, I blocked off an evening for the family to go ice-skating. Then I searched for somewhere to buy a portion of the holiday meal — prepared for me and my loved ones by someone else. I decided only to cook the parts I enjoyed. And I crossed ridiculous items off my list — making a special trip for the exact box of chocolates I used to get, doing a last minute holiday card with a photo of (bribed) teenagers, etc.
What a revelation! What a revolution!
Enjoyment is healthy. What is the story you are telling this winter season — to yourself and to your kids?
As adults we know many of our favorite holidays had the tone of love and calm. We remember less about the items we received over the years and more about the experiences and connections we enjoyed. In fact, I am sure most of us love our memories of when the dog almost ate the turkey or when the Christmas tree caught on fire or the year someone forget to pick up Grandma from the airport — much more than we remember the Barbie Dream House or Hot Wheels ramp.
Truth is: the thing is your family will remember is the vibe you set — regardless of what is happening.
Enjoyment is healthy. Taking time to be relaxed and have fun is probably going to make a more lasting and meaningful impression than the exact order of events or flavors of cookies or replicating traditions (that maybe nobody even likes).
One of my friends is not feeling very well right now and she was pushing herself to get in her weekly workout. Instead of taking stock of how little her body was capable of, she refused to reschedule — until she woke up feeling like her head would fall off.
Letting go of exercise (one of those “shoulds” that often falls away at the time we most need it) was a real challenge. Then she realized that more than exercise, she needed to communicate to her family that Mom was not a perfect machine and that it was healthier to let go than to mindlessly follow the plan. And then she took a nap, and everything got easier and better.
Regardless of your holiday tradition, it’s way too easy to get caught up in the “Gotta do X, Y and Z or I’m a failure” vibe. Especially for moms. In my practice, my clients are sharing a spectrum of stories with me. And I am encouraging them to soften and accept what it is.
They are experiencing everything from a well-planned holiday, concern over getting it all done, excitement about seeing relatives, or complicated family dynamics. A holiday can heighten our emotions. Staying healthy during times of such intense expectations means knowing how to tell a more relaxing, more forgiving story.
Where can you invite love in, release requirements and relax into the moment? However many cookies you eat, if you enjoy each one instead of worrying about your waistline, you can create a healthier, happier holiday story.
And in the midst of family drama, an unfruitful shopping trip, or the realization you forgot the pumpkin pie, remember: your family’s holiday vibe is your conscious creation.
With or without whipped cream on top.
A culture of wellness is not about the stories you read your kids as much as it is about the stories you help your kids create. If you haven’t done so already, jump over to my home page and watch my video about creating an expectation of health in your kids.
Want to know my story? Check out the About section to learn more about the education and life experiences that inspired me to start a health revolution.