1.Breathe deep–Before meals, in the car on the way to an event, and when you get out of bed each morning, remember to breathe! It sounds silly, but amidst the holiday frenzy, we often forget to simply be. Try this: in times of stress or when you have a few extra minutes, take four deep breathes in, calm in, and four deep breaths out, stress out.
2. Make a gratitude journal- Happiness research has shown time and time again that those who give thanks are happier in the long run. Is that not what the holidays are about in the first place? Try this: at the end of each day, journal three things for which you are thankful. It can be three words, three sentences, or you can go into greater detail. This journal does not have to be anything special; it can simply be on a Post-it® note or a note on your phone. Merely the act of journaling can have some impressive benefits on your overall well-being.
3.Schedule time for yourself – Even if it is just five minutes of quiet time each day, “me time” is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. Try this: set your alarm for ten minutes before everyone else gets up. Do a favorite activity, whether that is reading the morning paper, sitting quietly and enjoying a cup of coffee, or taking the dog for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Your mind and body will thank you!
4.Play outside- Ignore the adults for an hour and be a part of the kids’ fun. Get outside with the little ones for a game of catch, tag, or kickball. The crisp fall/winter air will rejuvenate and refresh your mind and senses, and the running around can provide a nice dose of exercise.
5.Walk, walk, walk- Exercise is usually at the bottom of the list of holiday priorities. People often forget that daily exercise can be broken down into several small sessions while enjoying the same benefits. Try this: enjoy a ten minute brisk walk outside after each meal. By the end of the day, you will have walked at least 30 minutes! After-meal walks can also help to improve digestion and holiday bloat.
6.Always provide the veggies – Bring a vegetable tray to every food-related holiday event you attend. By doing this, you can ensure that something lite, low-calorie, and healthy will be available to munch on while you wait for the main course.
7.Fill half your plate with the good stuff- Holiday foods are often full of butter, cheese, and other heavy ingredients. Try this the next time you go through the holiday buffet line. Fill half your plate with lighter options such as green beans and other vegetables, salads, vinaigrette-based coleslaw, and soups. Eat this half of your plate first before moving on to the heavier items such as stuffing and casserole. If you begin with the super savory dishes, it will be much more difficult to go back to eating the lighter options. Plus, eating the lighter foods first will likely cause you to eat less of the more calorie-dense options.
8. Enjoy your food- Eating at holiday parties often resembles a food-eating contest. Party-goers usually forget to put their forks down and simply enjoy the food and the company. Try this: when sitting at the table, place your fork on your plate at least one time per minute. Also, chew each bite at least ten times. These two tricks will naturally slow you down and allow you to taste the food instead of simply anticipating your next bite. Plus, taking a few eating breaks will allow you to actually engage in good conversations with your loved ones.
9. Get out of the kitchen- Remember, there is life outside of the kitchen. Most family get-togethers, particularly during the holidays, revolve around food. Instead, invite your family over for a game night, ornament-making party, or a snowball fight. Provide a few light snacks (popcorn, veggie trays, and fruit salad) and make the activity the focus, rather than the table.