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3 Simple Steps to Surviving the Holidays

I’ve been starting to see quite a few holiday survival guides lately – they are popping up everywhere, from blogs to magazines to morning news.

There are many more survival guides issued during the holiday season than there are during hurricane season. Which makes me wonder: if holidays are more dangerous than hurricanes, why do we participate in them at all?

I kid, I kid (sort of). Seriously though, I have noticed that the stress of the holidays doesn’t come from the holidays themselves (celebrations are supposed to be fun, remember?) but from the expectations that we and others place on ourselves. We have to buy the perfect gifts (but mind our budgets!), cook the perfect meals (but eat healthy!), attend a million events (in hot sequin mini-dresses, because we didn’t gain weight from the above), and still find time for that luxurious bath and all those workouts the magazines call for. Um… seriously?

Well, I am opting out of the perfection game this holiday season. So, in the spirit of putting the “lid” on holiday expectations, here are my rules:

1. Prioritize pleasure.

Holidays are supposed to be fun. My goal this season is to cultivate a child-like spirit and remember why I loved the end of December so much when I was a little girl.

Also, I would like to avoid sucking all the joy out of eating.

Specifically, I know that I will be faced with many holidays desserts. I also know that sugar and flour are not particularly healthy for me. However, when faced with pure deliciousness, I will eat it, I will enjoy it, and that’s all I have to say about that.

2. Choose simplicity over stress

You know when you have all these things on your to-do list, and they have to be done today, but you know then never will, so you rush about with a feeling of impending doom and futility?

This December, I commit to putting only as many things on my to-do list as I can comfortably do, and no more.

Are your family and friends used to getting home-made French pastries when they invite you over? This year, buy the stuff if you need to save time.

Don’t cook 5,000 complicated dishes if you don’t want to. Make a list of presents and get them in advance (better yet, online).*

*I am a total hypocrite here. I almost always do my shopping on December 24 – it’s a good thing the office closes at 12 and the mall is open until 6!

Just say no when you want to.

There – now you have time for that bubble bath.

3. Deguiltify your exercise routine.

I love exercise, but every once in a while, my routine slips. I consider this perfectly acceptable, because base fitness doesn’t actually disappear when you skip a couple of workouts. Also, when your body needs rest, I truly believe that the healthy choice is to rest, not to pop in a Jillian Michaels DVD.

So, this December I commit to remember why I exercise. I exercise because it’s fun, because I feel amazing afterwards, and because it’s good for my mental health.

Yes, it helps with the glucose in the desserts from point 1, but exercise is not the thing that justifies my right to eat. This December (and beyond), I will eat what I want, with all the pleasure and fun and enjoyment that implies, just because.

Do you have a holiday strategy?

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19 comments

1 Ameena { 11.23.10 at 9:36 am }

I don’t really treat the holidays any different from a regular day…other than eating maybe a few bites of dessert and hitting the malls a little more I just try to focus on the excitement and energy of the holidays instead of the parts that I will regret later.

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Alina Reply:

The excitement and energy of the holidays is exactly the part I try to focus on too
People are so much more cheerful, it’s great.

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2 Victoria (District Chocoholic) { 11.23.10 at 10:06 am }

Amazon wish-lists are a lifesaver. My family uses them every Christmas and it saves so much time.

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Alina Reply:

That’s a great idea!

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3 Michele @ Healthy Cultivations { 11.23.10 at 10:28 am }

My strategy this year is to maintain awareness of all the important areas of my life — adequate sleep, reasonable exercise, sufficient quiet time, generally healthy eating with some indulgences too, and soul-nourishing time (like reading, painting, drawing, church, writing, scrapbooking, etc.).

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Alina Reply:

That sounds like a really good plan! I want to get out my paintbrushes too

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4 Kristi { 11.23.10 at 10:43 am }

I think I’m going to take your strategies! Great ideas.

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Alina Reply:

Thank you, Kristi!

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5 S @ extremebalance.net/blog { 11.23.10 at 12:34 pm }

I don’t need strategies because I don’t do traditional holiday stuff… the tricky thing for me in the past was always baking, and then wanting to eat my baking! Since I’ll be away for the run-up this year, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. Nothing like heading somewhere warm for awhile to make it feel like nothing out of the ordinary is happening!

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Alina Reply:

You are going somewhere warm? I haz envy. At this time of year, I invariably start researching work visas in the Caribbean.

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6 Becca { 11.23.10 at 12:59 pm }

My game plan is to enjoy, practice moderation and not say no just becuase “Oh I really shouldnt!”

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Alina Reply:

I like that plan!

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7 Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear { 11.23.10 at 1:50 pm }

We don’t have double trouble here like you do with Thanksgiving and Xmas and since I’m not a big fan of our holiday food and only seem to overindulge with chocolate I’m fairly sure I can survive the holidays *fingers crossed*

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Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear Reply:

or do you celebrate thanksgiving in Canada?

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Alina Reply:

Hi Anne,
We actually celebrated our Thanksgiving in October. However, I personally also look forward to American Thanksgiving as well because I go shopping in the States for the weekend. And I am definitely thankful for this annual mini-holiday

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8 Angela { 11.23.10 at 6:54 pm }

thanks so much for the tips, Alina!! i’m going back home (to Canada) for the entire month of December and as much fun as it is to see everyone, we do A LOT of eating…not a whole lot of running. it’s hard NOT to put on weight. my only strategy is to stay away from my mom’s chocolate chip muffins. sigh…they’re beautiful but deadly.

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Alina Reply:

Hi Angela! I am glad they helped. That’s so exciting that you are going for all of December. I hope you enjoy those chocolate chip muffins to the fullest, whenever you succumb

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9 Shanna, like Banana { 11.23.10 at 9:18 pm }

These tips are fabulous! I wholeheartedly agree with all of them.

I’d say to also don’t stress or feel guilty over not doing work. Set aside a couple hours for a few of the days and do what you can. Anything else can wait ;)

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Alina Reply:

Thanks Shanna! I love your suggestion about not stressing over work - we have the rest of the year for that!

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