The holiday season is upon us. While it has been called “the most wonderful time of the year,” for many people, it is anything but.
It tends more to be the time of year most filled with excess: we eat too much, we buy too much, we receive too much, we stress too much, we jam too much into our days and nights.
Unfortunately, in all of this excessive-ness, we tend to lose sight of the things that actually are important to us.
Most people, when asked, will list their health and their family/friends as their number one and two most important things (not necessarily in that order). But how many people live that way? Or, on a smaller scale, how many people celebrate that way?
Spend time with people who are important to you, doing things that you both value. Perhaps create traditions that bring you closer together, instead of traditions that bring you to the mall.
Skip the parties that you really don’t want to go to.
If decorating stresses you out, don’t do it. (If decorating is something you love to do, then do it!) Be thoughtful when soliciting the help of others in your quest to deck out your house.
You don’t have to have a stash of “just in case” generic gifts. And really, there is no such thing as a little something that anyone would like. Save your cash, get rid of some clutter, help someone else get rid of some clutter (by not giving it to them), and worry less about material reciprocity.
It is somewhat striking to me that we have an immediate transition from a holiday of gratitude for what we have to a season of materialism and wanting more.
See if you can truly be thankful for what you have … and be content with it. Carrying that through December will serve you better than carrying a credit card. (Not watching TV will help. Advertising is powerful; its job is to make you discontent with what you have.)
Kids can be taught the same thing. If they’re younger, it’s likely to be easier. And really, how many new toys do they need? How many of them will they still be playing with in a week? Again, less TV viewing (by the kids) will decrease desire for more stuff.
[I'm not saying that kids shouldn't get any presents for Christmas — just that many people go overboard, which adds stress (in shopping, wrapping, possibly assembling, and in paying bills) and adds clutter to the house, which adds to stress later.]
First, just a reminder that stress is detrimental to your health, so all of the above things that could reduce stress also increase health.
That said, I might not know anyone who won’t be uncomfortably full at some point on Thursday.
“But it’s Thanksgiving! It only happens once a year!”
True. But do this exercise to illustrate the “once a year” problem.
Go get a calendar for a year. It’s OK if it’s a 2011, even though most of 2011 is over (wow!) — it’ll work for this.
Circle (or otherwise mark) Thanksgiving. Do you celebrate Christmas with a meal? Circle it. Celebrate New Year’s Eve? Circle it. Circle Superbowl Sunday. And Valentine’s Day. Easter. Memorial, Independence, and Labor Days. Halloween. Family birthdays. Your anniversary. Estimate other non-recurring events: weddings, dinner parties, BBQs, graduations, other parties, and so on.
I bet there are a lot of circles on your calendar. I bet you could justify unsavory eating/drinking at any and all of them by saying, “It only happens once a year!” How much damage are you doing to your body (and therefore your health – a priority?) just “once a year”?
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat or drink anything “tasty” at Thanksgiving. I am saying that overeating doesn’t honor your body. The issue is really just portions. In a typical weeknight dinner, you have maybe three or four different items on your plate. You’ll likely have at least twice as many on Thursday, which means your portions need to be half the size or less. Take your time eating, really savor your food, and you can still enjoy it as much as if you’d eaten twice as much but not really paid attention. Added bonus: you won’t feel sick afterwards.
I know quite a few people who don’t exercise in December because they “don’t have time.” It’s a matter of priority. Which is more important: your health, or all of the extra errands? How can you streamline and simplify your December so that you do have time to exercise? Your kids (if you have them) need to move, too. Or your friends. Or a neighbor. Or a coworker. What can you do together that you all enjoy?
How can you streamline and simplify your December so that you have time for all of the things that are actually important? Stop, take note of everything, and if the to-do list or the calendar boxes are brimming, see what can be let go. You don’t have to do it all. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to the people close to you.
Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s to your health *clink*