3 Tips That Will Make You Thrive This Holiday Season
I love the holidays. It’s a grand and festive time of year when people are in good spirits and spreading good will to others. It’s always so fun seeing holiday decorations, whether you are in the city checking out the store front displays or in the suburbs driving through neighborhoods with homes all lit up and blow up Santas on the rooftops. And it’s impossible not to smile and sing along to the holiday tunes that permeate the airwaves this time of year.
Yet I often hear people complain that the stores seem to be starting the holiday season earlier and earlier every year. I used to be one of them.
But each year, the holiday season seems to fly by faster and faster and at New Year’s I always find myself saying, “It’s over already.”
So if the stores want to start the holidays in October, well, now I say, bring it on. Let’s get those warm holiday feelings revved up as soon as we can and savor the season while it’s here.
Part of savoring the season also means finding a way to manage the flip side of all that good cheer. The holidays can also be a time of stress, good habit loopholes, and an overdose of consumerism. So how do we find the right balance of enjoyment and indulgence without derailing our good health and happiness?
Here’s 3 tips that I try to follow to help keep me healthy and thriving during the holiday season so I have the energy and spirit that the season deserves.
Question Your Assumptions
The holiday season is filled with anticipation and expectation. Whether you are young or old, a large percentage of why the holidays are so fun is the sheer anticipation and expectation of the joy your special holiday will bring. But with those expectations comes the pressure of having to live up to it. Holiday traditions can dictate certain responsibilities and many find themselves overburdened with tasks and to do lists that seem to far exceed their allotted time.
My suggestion here is to question your assumptions. You are assuming that you HAVE to go out and spend more money than you have on an abundance of gifts for everyone from your office coworker to your in laws. You are assuming that your best friend will be disappointed in you if you don’t find her the absolute perfect gift that shows her just how special she is to you. You are assuming that your family will just about walk out on you if you don’t make each of their 4 favorite pies for the big holiday meal.
What if you were to question all those assumptions? Instead of going into debt and worrying that you forgot to give someone a gift, maybe you make a donation to your favorite charity and give everyone a card telling them about the charity and why it’s important to you.
Instead of spending hours by yourself trying to find the perfect gift for your best friend, maybe you tell her you’d rather spend a couple of hours enjoying her company.
Instead of staying up until midnight to make 4 pies for one dinner, why not spread the pies out over the holiday season so you can manage your time better and everyone still gets their favorite.
This strategy can be applied to habit loopholes also. Many of us, (myself included) can be lured into using the “it’s the holidays” loophole for eating all of our sugary favorites or imbibing one too many cocktails at the office holiday party. At the risk of being a kill joy, I ask you to question the assumption that you can’t have a good time without those treats or drinks. I fell into that camp for many years until I began to realize how bad I felt after overindulging. Slowly (and I mean very slowly), I tested out not drinking at holiday parties.
I found that after the initial sober awkwardness that can sometimes prevail at these events, eventually I loosened up as those around me began to feel the effects of their cocktails, even if I wasn’t feeling it myself. And it was well worth not having to experience the day after effects of wondering what embarrassing thing I may have said or the hangover I would feel. What was even more impactful for me though, was not indulging in the sugar filled sweets. More than the alcohol, it was the food that would leave me filled with regret and remorse for overindulging. The psychological trauma I would impose on myself for enjoying a mini egg nog cheesecake was not worth the temporary enjoyment my taste buds received.
This takes some experimenting to find what works best for you. As I wrote about here, knowing if you are an abstainer or moderator really helps in this situation. If you’re a moderator, allowing yourself one treat for the party or the occasion may work best for you. Pick your favorite treat and really pay attention to eating or drinking it. Savor it and take in all the pleasures it gives you. Then see if you are okay stopping there.
And if you’re an abstainer, start out by choosing one party that you will vow to lay off the booze or skip dessert. If you feel like you’ll get pressured or asked why you’re not drinking, just order a club soda with lime in a rocks glass and no one will know there’s no booze in it. Or volunteer to be the designated driver and that will ensure you stick to your plan. See how you feel the next day when you wake up energetic and guilt free.
The best part of this strategy is to learn what is really bringing you joy. Bring a curiosity to questioning these assumptions and find out where the pleasure really comes from. You might be surprised to find that you get more pleasure from being around friends and family than in a few bites of sugar or sips of alcohol that will only lead to regret and fatigue later on.
Spend Time Where it Counts
A Pew Research Survey from 2013 showed that 69% of Americans polled said that spending time with friends and family was their favorite part of the holiday season. In contrast, the top 3 answers to what they like least about the holidays were:
- Financial worry
According to Heather Krause’s article, Americans Love The Holidays, But Spend Them Doing Things They Hate, the holiday season is a time when we spend more time on the above activities that we say we like the least.
Americans spend increased time on stressful activities they claim to dislike, and decrease time spent on activities they say make them happy… People are not spending more time on both, but rather seem to be choosing one activity over the other. We are actively replacing things that make us happy with things that make us stressed!
I can definitely attest to this in my own life. I can spend hours agonizing over the perfect gift for family and friends, all the while missing out on fun holiday activities I would rather be doing. While I am someone who gets pleasure out of DIY gifts and making something special for loved ones, I can also stress myself out when I get time crunched.
This year, rather than stressing over creating something unique and perfect, I am going to try to prioritize the rituals and holiday activities that give me the most enjoyment. Krause writes that research shows,
…participation in holiday traditions and rituals is highly satisfactory and increases positive well-being. The more people enjoy a ritual, the greater their contentment during the holidays. And the more frequently people engage in holiday traditions, the less lonely they’re likely to feel.
The less emphasis we put on gift giving and buying material things the happier we will be. Instead we should be directing our attention to activities and social engagements that make us feel connected to others. The holiday season will feel more fulfilling as we allow ourselves to savor the moments that we anticipate so highly this time of year.
It’s also important not to forget that anticipation is part of the experience and the joy of the season. It’s fun to anticipate seeing friends and family. It’s fun to look forward to decorating the tree or going to your traditional holiday get away cabin in the mountains. Martha Roberts writes in Psychologies,
Research has shown that anticipating something can be a powerful, positive emotion that can help us live happier lives.
So this holiday season, instead of spending time doing the activities we like least, make a real effort to do more of the pleasurable activities. Won’t your family and friends be happier to see you in a joyful mood rather than stressed and annoyed from the crowds at the mall.
Boost Your Brain & Energy Levels with Supplements
Even if you apply the first two tips that I’m suggesting, the holidays are filled with activities and special events that are taxing to your brain and energy stores. And if you allow yourself a few sugary indulgences to celebrate the season, you want to be able to bounce back as quickly as possible. Here are a few supplements that I use to keep me happy and energetic through all the merriment:
- Brain Octane Oil: Reduces brain fog, provides fast energy for the brain; Great pick me up for afternoon fatigue; Check out a 3rd party review here.
- Unfair Advantage: Caffeine free nootropic (cognitive function enhancer), brain energy, promotes heart and nerve cell function; Review here.
- Forbose: Increase energy to perform better and longer, recover faster from workouts and strenuous activity.
- Neuromaster: Supports memory and focus; One of these and I am good for a 12 hour day. Find review here.
- Coconut Charcoal: Fast detoxing; Aids in digestion, especially after unclean eating; I take one or two of these after drinking alcohol and never experience a hangover. Also great after eating too much and getting a stomach ache. Find review here.
I have tried a lot of types of supplements and almost always stop taking them after not feeling any noticeable improvements. That completely changed when I tried the Bulletproof supplements. I feel more energy, focus, and general wellness when taking these supplements. Yes, they are pricey, but they work. And you don’t need to take them every day to feel the effects. I ration mine out to make the bottles last. If you’re not quite ready to dive into the supplements, start out with a bulletproof coffee. This will give you all day energy without the crash.
Time to Thrive
Make this holiday season special and memorable by thriving instead of just surviving. Remember to question your assumptions, spend the most time on what you enjoy and the least time on what drags you down. And finally, give your brain the boost it deserves and your body the detox it needs with some well chosen supplementation.
I hope these tips help you find the magic and enjoyment of the holiday season while avoiding all the pitfalls and stresses that can steal away the merriment.