6 Tips for Staying Motivated Through the Holidays

Do you look forward to the “season of peace” every year only to be reminded that the anticipation, excitement and joy of the holidays are often rivaled only by the stress, exhaustion and discontent of the holidays? If you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle or achieve some life goals, the holiday season can be fraught with land mines. If you find yourself, year after year, falling off the health and fitness wagon during the winter months and justifying it with the craziness of the season, you are not alone. Motivation and willpower are two primary factors that impact greatly how successfully we navigate these land mines. By learning to harness them both, you can come through the holiday season with zest, still wearing the same jeans you started out in and gain access to the inner peace, joy and gratitude this season of giving inherently offers.

Here are some tips for keeping your energy bank full so that you can build your willpower muscle and staying motivated over time:

    1. Slow Down. Speed is the enemy of reflection. When we slow down, we can begin to notice not only what is going on in our minds, but also what is going on in our bodies. Slowing down will allow you to become mindful and intentional so that you can stay ahead of your energy requirements.
    2. Eat strategically. Eating five to six small meals a day provides us with regular doses of glucose, which is the body’s primary source of energy. Lean proteins paired with complex carbohydrates provide a more sustaining source of energy than sugars and simple carbohydrates.
    3. Create healthy sleep patterns. Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and allow yourself a nap whenever possible. Sleep debt is the biggest culprit in energy depletion.
    4. Get some aerobic exercise daily. This does not mean you have to go to the gym or run a half marathon every day. Take the stairs, park as far away from the store entrance as you can, get down on the floor and play with your kids or wrestle your dog.  Aerobic activity builds cardiovascular capacity and causes our bodies to release endorphins. These help us sustain a steady level of physical and energy and a positive mood.
    5. Use your energy strategically. Do tasks that require the most energy or self-control first. Using energy at the right times allows you to spend less of it. This leaves more in your reservoir to exercise self-control later on in the day. For example, I encourage my clients to do their most challenging work in the mornings when their energy reserves are highest.
    6. Give yourself the grace of self-acceptance. Plan to “fall off the wagon” a few times. Intentionally allow yourself that shortbread or watch an old holiday rerun instead of going to the gym. Think of these as opportunities to rest your willpower muscle. Falling off the wagon happens and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it- just make it by design rather than by happenstance.



How to Stay Happy and Healthy  During the Holidays