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Tips for Focusing on Happy and Healthy Holidays

I wish you more than Happy Holidays – I wish you Happy HEALTHY Holidays!

I’m excited that it is the holidays.  Thanksgiving next week, with Christmas and the holidays coming fast then New Years – bam…bam…bam.  All in a period of weeks.  I used to think of those few weeks in terms of food but now what comes to my mind is spending time with my family.  That is a huge difference for me.  Time was defined by the food that was associated with the holiday but not any longer.  Thanksgiving is four days with my fam and what are we going to do, instead of what are we going to eat, same with Christmas and New Year’s.  For me, it used to be more about the food than who I was with and where we would be during the holidays.  Now, it is the other way around.  I get to spend special time with my hubby and sons and oh, by the way, what foods will we make.  Now, I celebrate more than happy holidays – I celebrate happy healthy holidays.  For you, are the holidays mostly focused around food?  Now that you’re losing weight (or maintaining), you don’t have to spend your holidays so focused on what you get to eat, want to eat, avoid eating or dieting on Jan. 1st?  You’ve changedyour lifestyle and priorities since surgery, so spend the holidays with people you love, let relationships – not food and drink – be the important part of your holidays.

Have Happy Healthy Holidays:

It is so easy to go back to the same old stressful cycle of unhealthy eating during this time of year. During the holidays, food often becomes a central focus in our lives. It is an excuse to indulge with the same old promise of January 1st, I’m going to get back on track.  You’ve worked hard all year so don’t let a few weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s undo what you’ve done.  Family activities, social functions, and even work-related activities often are centered on food.  You’ve worked hard all year so don’t let a few weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s undo what you’ve done.   Again, think Happy Healthy Holidays!

Re-define the holidays for you.  What is the purpose of the holiday season for YOU, your family and friends. All you need to do is pause for a moment and look inside yourself. Define the holidays in any way that is meaningful to you. Create your own traditions that reflect your values.  The holidays can be spent without focusing on food – put your focus on you, and your family and friends!

Just as you’ve created your new healthy lifestyle, create new traditions about the holidays.  New non-food focused holidays allow for your happy healthy holidays.  Here’s some how to’s that reflect your healthy lifestyle and to make the holidays more meaningful for you.

How to Create Happy Healthy Holidays Traditions:

Focus on Meaningful Traditions:  Make a list of all of your seasonal activities and obligations, even if you don’t consider them to be “traditions.” Which events and activities are meaningful and which aren’t? Which ones reflect your values? Could your list use some tweaking, or maybe deletions and additions?

Have fun!  Remember that treasured traditions don’t need to be complicated, or even particularly profound. Sometimes they’re just fun! Driving around (or walking in your neighborhood) looking at the festive display of lights is a simple, enjoyable holiday routine. Singing holiday tunes together is another.  Some of the most memorable rituals are just to “hang out” with the family by watching a movie at home or playing board games.

Focus on Giving Yourself:  For those who experience loneliness during the holidays, consider inviting a group of friends to your home.   If your focus during the holiday season is to be part of a larger community, give the gift of your time.  Most organizations need volunteers just as much, if not more, than they need money during the holiday season. Call an organization that interests you and see what you and your family can do to help out.

Focus on Personal Reflection during the Holidays:  Put your personal centeredness and spiritual growth at the heart of your holidays. The focus of contemplation at this time of year is “the light renewing itself, bringing hope and joy.” Focus on bringing light to your life by choosing a new goal for yourself and support it with specific actions. Some examples are: staying centered throughout the season by practicing a period of silence and deep breathing whenever you begin to feel stress. Or extend kindness to all those you encounter by focusing your compassion on their vulnerabilities. Or practice patience and tolerance toward fellow travelers by being a courteous and aware driver.

Another way to bring your focus to yourself is to make a “gratitude list”. A gratitude list is a log that you make of at least five items a day that you’re sincerely able to feel good about. For example: “I had the freedom to set my own schedule today. I’m feeling good about myself.  I have made positive changes since this time last year.  I have good health. I have a job today. I have a good friend. I am a good friend. I have hope. I’m an honest person.” And you make this list every day for a week, and see how you feel. If you had a really difficult time in the past, it may help to list some of the good lessons you learned about life and love by learning how to deal with them.

Once you have decided on your specific practice of personal reflection, make it a priority of your day. At the end of the day acknowledge your progress, and renew your commitment for tomorrow. A personal connection with yourself will help you detach from the inevitable stresses of this busy season, keep your values clear, and increase your self-esteem. It also costs nothing and can improve your mental health, sense of self-esteem and personal wellbeing.

Although food can be a big part of the season, it doesn’t have to be the main focus. Holidays are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to be grateful. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures. Relax, enjoy the holidays, and remember what the season is all about for you.


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