When does your holiday season begin? Christmas and New Year are fast approaching. But some of us have been in celebration mode since spring!
For many Australians, holiday season officially starts with the Spring Racing Carnival. For others, holiday season kicks in anytime after Sydney’s City to Surf fun run. If you work a lot or you’re a parent of school-aged kids, the Christmas break might be your first chance of the year to kick back and let loose.
Whenever it commences for you, it is wise to prepare for a no regrets holiday season.
I don’t mean filling your social calendar and workshopping outfits. The no regrets holiday season means planning for how you want to be during all of these social engagements.
How much do you want to drink? Who do you want to socialise with? Who do you hope to meet? How will you balance your day-to-day life commitments and healthy habits with the increase in nights out?
Planning is the Key to a No Regrets Holiday Season
Planning is crucial for getting through the hectic holiday season feeling well, happy and refreshed, rather than finding yourself in January feeling burnt out, overindulged, and in need of a Feb-Fast. If you can enter the silly season with a dose of balance, you won’t need a month of fasting to make up for your holiday indulgences.
So how do you do this? How do you get through a time when alcohol is often flowing, you are tired from gift shopping, work deadlines, and going out the night before… and a drink seems like a welcome salvation?
Eating and Drinking with No Regrets this Holiday Season
Alcohol – Set Your “Sensible Self” Limit
Well, you can still accept the alcoholic beverage, but do so only when you have had a few litres (yes, plural) of water, and at least two meals or a meal and a snack if it is a pre-lunch function.
Be honest with yourself about how thirsty you are before you take the drink. When we are thirsty we tend to gulp down our drinks, which can be dangerous when those drinks contain alcohol.
It is challenging to deny another glass of alcohol after you have already had a few. I have a friend who says that the third glass is like crossing a bridge to “the other side” – having that third drink means she is no longer in control of her choices in the way she would like to be. So she stops at two, waits an hour or so, then has another, if she feels like it.
For each of us, our susceptibility to alcohol and drunkenness is different and is affected by our body size, what we have eaten and how recently, how tired we are and hormonal changes, among other variables. It is good to have a rule of thumb, like my friend who stops at two and reassesses, so that you know where your “sensible self” limit is and you can choose to remain on the right side of the “bridge”.
Food – Preload At Home
And then there’s the food. Party food tends to be calorie laden, fatty and fried, and goes down a treat!
If you are in control of your alcohol intake and have eaten well prior to commencing drinking, you are more likely to be in control of your food choices. You can have a party pie, but maybe 8 is too many.
It is harder to say no to these indulgent food choices when you are hungry or getting a little drunk. So before the party, eat a healthy meal or fill up on a protein shake, then monitor your drinking.
No Regrets Christmas Day
What about Christmas Day? Do you overindulge so much you need to take a nap in the afternoon?
It’s actually okay if you do, but be sure that you are choosing this path, rather than it choosing you!
When you are not mindful of what you are drinking and eating, you will likely feel a loss of control. When you choose a “day off” from your normal diet, it feels like a treat and you can make this a guilt-free indulgence, as long as you have put in the good work beforehand.
BEFOREHAND is the key word here. If you indulge and then promise (to God, to yourself, the universe, Yoda) to be good afterwards, you might not actually do the detox/strict nutrition plan/rigorous workouts you halfheartedly commit to. But if you have earned the indulgence through a balanced approach in the lead-up to the celebration, you can enjoy it knowing you worked for it!
Christmas minus the guilt = bliss!!
No Regrets New Year Celebrations
New Year’s Eve may be fraught with the same issues of overindulgence and guilt. Or perhaps you are one of the people who loves the New Year’s Day festivals and concerts.
However you ring in the new year, plan your indulgence, give it a number (of alcoholic drinks, various foods etc) and stick to that figure.
Manage your food and drink intake in the days between Christmas and the new year (if there is leftover cake, can you offer it to a neighbour rather than eating it yourself?).
Try to group friends together to cut down on the number of get-togethers. The fewer events you attend, the fewer opportunities for eating and drinking too much (and you’ll have more time to set the balance right with healthy eating and extra exercise in between events).
Your Survival Plan for a No Regrets Holiday Season
So, to survive the silly season with a dose of not-so-silly balance and preparation, try these tips:
- Plan ahead. How many drinks will you have, what food will you eat and how much of it?
- Earn the indulgence. On non-celebratory days, keep to your balanced diet and don’t drink alcohol. These are great days to fit in extra exercise.
- Get your shopping done early. Write a list, check it twice then hit the shops (or the computer) so you aren’t a worn-out, frazzled Grinch by Christmas day.
- Eat before going out. Sounds mad if it’s a food-based party, but a healthy meal or snack may stop you overdoing it at the buffet. A protein drink will also help.
- On your at-home evenings, get to bed early so that the late nights aren’t so difficult to recover from and so you can still exercise most of the days.
- Water water everywhere – every chance you get, drink a glass of water.
- Even a walk in the sunshine will allow you to recharge and will also burn some calories – exercise doesn’t have to be a belter every day.
Use these tips to create your own survival guide for the silly season. A no regrets holiday season is totally possible when you plan ahead, stay mindful and stick to the limits you give yourself.
All the best for a healthy, joyful Christmas and new year from all of us at The Bondi Psychologist.
What’s on your silly season survival guide? Comment below and let us know your tips and tricks for staying sane and well at this time of year.
Want to start the new year with a fresh outlook? Now is the perfect time to book your first therapy session at our beautiful Bondi clinic. Until 28 February 2018, new clients get 25% off your first appointment.