December Challenge: Maintaining normal during the holiday season.

In 2019 and every year before that, the holiday parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, family meals and gift swapping, along the persistent checklist of normal life demands probably caused and increase to your normal stress and anxiety.   Welcome to 2020, the year where everything is upside down. We have to throw the new plan out the window and see if we can come up with some new strategies for our holiday survival guide... With case loads higher than ever, our normal (historical) anxiety has been replaced by the fear of the coronavirus – or giving it to someone you love.  Most parties will be cancelled, a lot of family won't be traveling to see each other, and those who get blue during the holidays might feel this effect more acutely due to the lack of time spent with friends and family. So now we must navigate a completely unique season together...

 

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year and not a time that you should be full of dread. A few strategies for the new challenges will hopefully keep the season joyful (and healthy). 

Challenge # 1: The holiday traditions won't be the same.

 

Rule number 1: Don't see this change as a bad thing! It's the 2020 holiday season, the year to find silver linings along with those silver bells.

 

Strategy 1:   This is the perfect year to try out a new tradition. You know that thing you've always wanted to do during the holidays but haven't for fear of upsetting the family tradition? This is the year to do it.

 

Strategy 2: If there's a tradition that you absolutely love, brainstorm new ways to do that thing. It might not be the same but could it be an acceptable substitute?

Challenge #2: The changes in schedules create more opportunities to order take out

Rule #1:  Make a plan. If you don't think about dinner until dinnertime, chances are that you are to end up eating out or bringing takeout home.  Spoiler alert: the meals you get out have almost double the calories, sodium and fat than those you'd make at home. 

Strategy #1: Keep emergency meals on hand to whip up a quick dinner when holiday plans keep you out later than planned: canned beans and tuna, pasta, frozen veggies and shrimp are all good choices. 

Strategy #2: Plan for nights you know will be be off schedule, Instant pot or slow cooker meals are great options for these nights! 

Challenge #3: Staying up later than normal with the extra demands of the holidays has you hitting the coffee or sweets for a mid afternoon pick-me-up.

Strategy #1: Before you go for the coffee or sweets, do a quick nutritional label check, can you find something that is a little bit healthier than your natural instinct?  Try to shoot for an option that has less sugar or fewer calories, at a coffee shop, you can ask for no or less pumps of syrup in any drink.

Strategy #2: Studies have shown that a 15 minute walk can be as effective for an afternoon pick-me-up as coffee, save some extra calories and try a brisk walk instead.

Strategy #3: With fewer demands for social engagements, can you make the most out of your holiday shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, etc by planning ahead, shopping online, doing a little at a time, can you divide and conquer with a friend or family member?

Challenge #4: Hard-to-resist homemade holiday treats.

Strategy #1: The quickest way to fall completely off the wagon during the holidays is to avoid the guilty pleasures completely, so make room in your diet to eat them. Allow yourself some grace with holiday goodies but when you do, practice mindful eating so that you get full enjoyment out of that treat.  Eat it slowly and savor it (after all, they are delicious)! 

Strategy #2: Make smaller batches than your normal amount so you are less tempted.

Strategy #3: If you just have too much on hand and feel that the temptation to over-eat will be too much wrap them up into gifts to share with friends or bring it to the office (if you're still going to an office).




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