Though the holidays hold the potential for much enjoyment, they also can present special challenges. My work as a life coach intensifies this time of year, as the holidays can mean dealing with more than just getting shopping done on time. We may find ourselves contending with a host of additional obstacles, such as:
- Spending more time than usual with extended family, leading to conflicts
- Getting off-track from balanced healthy habits like fitness routines
- Fighting temptations to over-eat, over-drink, and over-spend
- Having high expectations for Hallmark-style holidays that don’t match reality
- Battling stressful travel and poor weather conditions
- Dealing with being away from your usual support system
Some of these are situations you can’t control and which you may not be able to change. But there’s one thing you can control this holiday season, and that’s your own sense of balance. By taking care of yourself and needs you have around staying healthy and centered, you’ll be able to get through the holidays more smoothly. Here are some strategies that I recommend to all of my clients at Mark Strong Coaching:
Don’t sacrifice your needs. At this time of year, I see many people pay too much attention to what others want, sacrificing their own needs in the process. Whether it’s putting your parents’ desire to have you home when you really want to celebrate with your spouse, or your family’s desire to have a Christmas blowout when you’d prefer to save money, other people’s needs can run rampant.
While the season is about giving more than receiving, this message can be taken too far if you find yourself agreeing to plans and pilgrimages that make you miserable. Spend some time figuring out what you want the holidays to be like this year, and who you want to spend them with. You have a right to enjoy the break and to be around people who make you feel good. Don’t give away all of your preferences along with your presents this season.
Choose supportive settings. Hand-in-hand with meeting your needs is choosing a supportive setting to spend the holidays. If your family causes your stress level to skyrocket, you may want to think twice about whether spending two weeks under their roof is a good idea.
Keep track of your spending. Nothing kills the holiday spirit like getting a monstrous Mastercard bill after Christmas shopping. Though expectations may be high to give generously, your budget should lead your purchasing decisions. If you’re short on cash, think of creative ways to give that aren’t expensive, like preparing a special meal, or giving the gift of a service that you’re an expert in.
Leave early and pack well. Nightmarish holiday travel stories have become commonplace on the news. To avoid becoming one of them, give yourself a large cushion of time to reach your connections and final destination. And to ensure comfort upon your arrival, don’t save packing until the last minute-be sure to bring everything you might need.
Make extra time to be healthy. The holidays often cause diets and exercise to go into winter hibernation. When you’re on other people’s turf for extended stays, healthy routines sometimes fly out the window. But stressful times like the holidays are when you need your balanced habits the most.
Make it a point to avoid too many sweets and fattening foods, stick to a 30-minute daily workout, and get 8 hours of sleep. Keeping yourself on an even keel through self-care can go a long way toward helping you navigate whatever drama the holidays may hold.