Six Tips for a Healthier, More Meaningful Christmas.
The Christmas season is upon us once again…
Aside from the festivities and sharing, for some reason this time of year can also leave people feeling stressed out, and a bit worse for wear where in the health department.
I’d like to tell you that I really don’t think it has to be that way.
I’ve thrown together a few quick tips that might help you to maintain your sanity over the next few weeks, and to hopefully allow your Christmas to be a more healthy, meaningful time for both you and the people around you.
1. STAY ACTIVE
The holiday season can be a time where people decide to just slow to a standstill.
Whilst rest and relaxation are definitely both important, they can be taken to the extreme when enough excuses present themselves.
Don’t worry, staying active doesn’t instantly turn you into the Grinch.
There’s still plenty of time to relax with friends and family and enjoy yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop moving completely.
If you think you may struggle this Christmas, which is completely OK, here are a few tips:
Try something new. I personally feel motivated when I’m learning new things. If you’ve managed to get some time off, why not spend it trying out some new activities. Martial arts, dance, climbing, whatever! Many gyms are offering cheap Christmas deals too if you’re interested.
Set a goal. Rather than waiting for the New Year’s resolutions, why not set a target now? You could sign up to an event like a half marathon, or some sort of tournament that takes place just after Christmas. If you give yourself a training plan and ensure you focus and commit to doing something, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
Family activities. Take the family out for a walk in the fresh winter air, or get them involved with some outdoor games. If the weather is pants, there are still plenty of indoor alternatives to sitting in front of the TV for weeks. Get out the musical chairs or twister and go crazy, if you want.
De-stress. We’ve been told a million times before that exercise is a great stress buster. If Christmas stresses you out, try some exercise. Simple. I’ll be writing a blog post on dealing with chronic stress in the next few weeks too, so keep your eyes peeled…
2. TAKE ON HIGH QUALITY FUEL
If you’re someone who’s still tempted by the Christmas puddings, big fat pork sausages, and thick gravy with all the trimmings; this time of year can make it tough to stay on track. Add to this the pressures from family members and friends, and that healthy plant based diet of yours can seem like a thing of the distant past…
If you’re looking for ways to maintain or improve your eating habits without feeling guilty over the holidays, hopefully I can help a little:
Get a good head start on the day. Why not try starting the day with something green for breakfast, perhaps a smoothie like this one I prepared earlier. This small step should leave you feeling energised and ready for the challenges that lie ahead, and may take a bit of the guilt away if you do happen to cave in to any temptations towards the end of the day.
Batch cook. If you’re into cooked food, making batches of healthy meals and freezing them before the holiday season even begins may be useful. This saves the hassle of making something fresh every day, and gets rid of the classic ’no time’ excuse.
Traditional variations. If you’re a little reluctant to stray from the norm, traditional Christmas recipes can quite easily be adapted to plant based, healthier alternatives that are also often a lot cheaper! Why not check out this Lentil Loaf, this Mushroom Gravy, and these delicious Vegan Sausages for some ideas to get you started. My lovely Girlfriend cooked me the sausages last week as a treat. They were amazing.
Pre-eat. If you happen to be invited to a party or family gathering where you’re likely gonna struggle to find anything nutritious, maybe take the advice of Rich Roll and pre-eat something healthy before you leave. If it turns out there’s healthy options there, that’s great. At least if there’s not you’ll already be satisfied, and will be less tempted to jump off the rails and binge on the Quality Streets.
3. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Let’s face it.
Willpower is not infinite.
Surrounded by temptations day after day, some people will inevitably let it slip a little and gorge on the chocolates or mince pies.
But what should you do if this happens?
Firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s really not the end of the world.
I read somewhere once (great referencing skills here…) that you should always try to treat yourself as you would your best friend.
If you happen to cave in, don’t panic. Stressing about it will likely do more damage to your health than the act itself.
It is just an event that has happened, nothing else. Yes it may not have been optimal for your health, but we learn from experience, so it may teach you a valuable lesson.
Note how the binge made you feel, and remember this the next time you’re tempted.
Then forgive yourself and move on.
Tomorrow is a new day, with a new opportunity to get back on track.
Aside from the physical health benefits, meditation is becoming increasingly recognised as a valid method to reduce stress, and improve productivity and concentration.
Maintaining a clear mind over the busy Christmas period may mean the difference between a stress fuelled couple of weeks and a peaceful relaxing break.
Just as you (hopefully) set some time aside for cleaning your teeth and your body, do yourself and everyone around you a favour and set some time aside to clean your mind.
Now I’m no Shaolin Monk, but I definitely feel noticeably calmer and more prepared to deal with stressful situations if I am practicing regularly.
There’s a whole range of different styles and methods to choose from and it can all get quite confusing. But if you’re interested, maybe check out this quick beginners guide to mindfulness meditation to get you started.
5. TRY HOME-MADE GIFTS
Our current system is built by consumers. At this time of year especially we are expected to continue to fuel the system and spend our money the latest products.
This year, I’m experimenting with something a little different, and trying out some home-made gifts.
They may not be as expensive or as fancy as something shop bought, but often times they require much more thought and effort. Hopefully they will be special and more memorable.
Believe it or not, we are all creative creatures and our creativity flows in different forms, so why not try it?
6. THINK OF THOSE LESS FORTUNATE
Last but definitely not least, take a bit of time to stop and think.
We live in a society where we sometimes take what we have for granted, and don’t realise how lucky we have it.
I don’t want to sound self righteous, but millions of people across the world will not have the opportunity to spend time with their family or friends this Christmas.
They won’t get the choice between eating rich expensive food or healthy plant based meals.
They won’t be focussed on exercising. Forget about exchanging gifts.
Many people out there have no one, and will spend this Christmas concerned with not starving and searching for shelter from the cold; rather than whether the turkey will be cooked on time.
Christmas is hailed as a time of giving and good will.
Maybe this year spare some thought for those that are less fortunate than you, and do what you can to help.
Why not forgo a few Christmas cards or gifts and instead donate to some form of charity or shelter? You could send presents to unprivileged children, or make a special effort to give more to the homeless.
Even just carrying out random acts of kindness to strangers can go a long way. You never know who’s day you could make.
Do what you can to help others. If you only have a little to give, that’s certainly a lot better than nothing at all.
Keep in mind how lucky we are and that there are many less fortunate than us out there. It might help keep the Christmas stress in perspective.
If you enjoyed this post or can think of someone who may benefit from it, feel free to share via Facebook, Twitter, even by email.
Thank you and I hope you have a happy, healthy, meaningful Christmas.
Thanks for reading!
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