Holiday Survival Guide: 13 Tips to Thriving During the Holidays

Michelle SpadaforaBy Michelle Spadafora11 Minutes

There are so many things I love about the Holiday Season. I love planning our Thanksgiving meal, decorating our tree, seeing family and all that goes into this festive time.

As much as we want to enjoy this season, we often find ourselves stressed because our to do lists are too long, we’re putting on unwanted weight, we’re skipping our workouts, and even though we know that Jesus is the reason for the season, we don’t make time to spend with Him.

I created this article because I care about you. I want you to see that you can enjoy the holidays without feeling stressed. You can make good choices and avoid gaining weight. You can make this the merriest season of all.  This guide includes my favorite tips to help you stay happy and healthy during the holidays!

Survival Tip #1 – Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

Let me offer some words of encouragement above everything else: Focus on what really matters during the holiday season. Keep your eyes on Jesus and don’t allow yourself to get sucked into worldly expectations.

Survival Tip #2 – Let Go of Perfectionism

You don’t need to have the perfect home, just an inviting one. You don’t need the perfect meal, only one prepared with love. You don’t need a perfectly set table, only one where everyone is welcomed just as they are. The greatest gift you can give to someone is to let them know they are perfectly loved by God.

Survival Tip #3 – Eat A Healthy Breakfast

When you start your day with a healthy breakfast you are more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day. Skipping breakfast also makes your more likely to overeat later in the day.

Want some healthy breakfast ideas that you can take on the run? Check out our “Healthy Breakfast On The Go” episode.

Watch for a month of encouragement, great ideas, and recipes for the holidays. Click here to join our 30 Days to the Holidays challenge.

Join The Fresh Table and Shaped by Faith for daily fitness routines and healthy recipes your whole family will love. Our inspired hosts will guide you spiritually, physically, and mentally through the weeks leading up to the holiday season so you can be your healthiest and happiest self!

Survival Tip #4 – Hydrate

When life is busy it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. When we are even slightly dehydrated our body isn’t at its best. Make sure to carry a water bottle when running errands. Try flavoring your water by adding fresh fruit or herbs to it so that you will be more likely to drink when you are on the go.

Survival Tip #5 – Offer to Bring A Dish

It’s no secret that traditional holiday food isn’t always the healthiest. If you’re invited to a party offer to bring a dish that is healthy to ensure you have at least one healthy option to choose from.

Survival Tip #6 – Stay Rested

The holiday hustle and bustle can throw wrenches in our sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep at night helps to decrease stress, boost the immune system, regulate hormones, promote recovery from workouts, prevent fatigue and brain fog. There really is no such thing as “catching up” on sleep so the key is to be as consistent as you can. If you know you have an early morning ahead of you, turn the TV and cell phone off and go to bed earlier. Your body will thank you in the morning.

Survival Tip #7 – Schedule Your Workouts

I know, I know….the holidays are busy, you have a lot going on, you don’t have any extra time and while those are easy excuses to fall back on they are not valid ones for skipping out on exercise. Even if you can only work in 10-15 minutes it’s better than nothing. Being consistent is what creates a lifelong healthy lifestyle and habits.  Take out your phone (calendar) right now and write down when you will exercise this week. The holidays are a fun, festive time of year and your workouts can be too! Check out our Faithful Workouts Episodes.

Survival Tip #8 – It’s Okay to Say No Thank You.

When someone offers you something to eat you can definitely say “No Thank You”. They may respond with “oh come on it’s the holidays you can have one” and again it’s Ok to respond with “No Thank You”. I know this can be really tough if you are a people pleaser.  If it’s something you truly love, have a few bites, but don’t eat it just to please them. It really is ok to just say, “No Thank You.”

Survival Tip #9 – Portions Matter

Enjoy your favorite foods but the rule of moderation is always the best one to follow. Give our 3-bite rule a try. Take 3 bites and then ask yourself if that satisfied the craving you had for it. If so, stop eating it. Usually by the time you take 3 bites of several things on your plate, you will be satisfied, but not full and uncomfortable.

Survival Tip #10 – Selflessly Serve Others

For some people the Holidays can be a tough. If you feel depression or anxiety coming on one of the best ways to pull yourself out of it is to serve someone else. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35. God created us in His image which means that our heart longs to serve others. Volunteering your time or offering to help others is a great way to lift your spirits and help others feel the love of Jesus.

Survival Tip #7 – Eat Until Satisfied

Maybe as a kid you heard things like “if it’s on your plate you need to eat it” or “you can’t have dessert until you have made a happy plate” These kinds of statements can become so ingrained into your psyche that even as an adult you believe that regardless of whether you actually feel full, you need to eat everything. Remember, you are in control of what you eat so let go of the emotional lies that you need to finish what is on your plate. This can be a hard cycle to break but by being mindful of your body to recognize when you are satisfied is when you should stop eating regardless of how much food is left on your plate.

Survival Tip #8 – It’s A Meal, Not A Weeklong Event

One of the biggest mistakes people make during the holiday season is treating Thanksgiving and Christmas like it’s a monthlong feast. You don’t have to throw in the towel on the entire season, do not try and justify having a piece of pie for breakfast, enjoy the special meals and then continue to eat healthy in between the celebrations.

Survival Tip #12 – Attend Holiday Gatherings to Socialize (not eat)

Spending time with friends and family, work parties and other social events can be a joyous time to spend quality time others so spend it with them! Use this time to be present and visit with others rather than rummaging around for holiday food. If you know the gathering you will be attending will be scarce for healthy options, it’s a good idea to “pre-eat” something healthy with protein and vegetables to help you avoid overindulging.

Survival Tip #13 – Rock Your Favorite Outfit

Okay, we’ve all seen the funny memes on social media about wearing our stretchy sweatpants to holiday dinners, but those elastic waistbands and baggy sweaters are practically an invitation to let it all hang out and overeat. So instead break out your favorite pair of jeans, cute blazer, figure flattering dress – whatever outfit that makes you feel confident. Not only will you look super cute, but your outfit will also offer that subtle reminder that you don’t have room for seconds and definitely not thirds.

Thanksgiving and Christmas come once a year and each holiday only lasts a few days…not weeks.  If you follow these 13 tips, you will find this holiday season will be more joyful.  My hope and prayer for you and your family this holiday season is that these tips will not only help you avoid the holiday stress and the adverse effects that can come with it but for you to know how much God loves you as a son or daughter of Christ and to have a heart on fire for sharing Him with others! You really can THRIVE during this beautiful season.

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