By Miranda Johnson
As someone who works in the health and fitness space, I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t enjoy going on social media this time of year. During the week of any big holiday (especially Thanksgiving or Christmas), all social networking platforms have anybody and everybody posting advice on how to “survive the holidays” without getting off track. Maybe you’re like me and also get annoyed by this or maybe not, but either way, it’s easy for anyone to get caught up in and immediately feel overwhelmed with not knowing what is best to do for you this holiday season. I know personally, it’s not hard to also get caught in the comparison game and feel like what you’re doing isn’t “enough” or isn’t what Christmas “should” look like or feel like.
While I can appreciate and understand what everyone out there is trying to do, I think it is important to take a moment and remind ourselves that the holidays hit everyone a bit differently and there is no right or wrong way to celebrate (or not celebrate) for that matter. We need to ask ourselves first what we want out of our holiday festivities, while putting the opinions of others aside.
One sticking point for many people, I believe, comes down to social pressures. Whether it’s the pressure surrounding how much you are or aren’t eating/drinking, comments about why you haven’t accomplished a certain life goal yet, or any of the stress that can come with social gatherings, it can create this feeling of heaviness. Isn’t it supposed to be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”?
To help create a more joyful experience this holiday season, I think it’s important to develop some awareness as to why we may have some of these thoughts/feelings come up in the first place. A lot of times, it can come from a false narrative we’ve drawn up in our own heads. If you feel triggered by social pressures at a holiday gathering this year, make an effort to give others the benefit of the doubt and realize they may not purposefully be trying to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s easy to make decisions based on the feelings of others instead of our own. Because we don’t want to potentially hurt others’ feelings by saying “no” to their homemade dish, we can sometimes take the “easy” route and decide to try not to rock the boat instead of listening to our inner voice and what we truly want and need for ourselves.
Of course, you aren’t required to take suggestions from me, or the advice of any social media guru out there, or from your Aunt Susie either. Ultimately, you are in control and quite honestly, that can be a super powerful realization if you let it be.
This holiday season, I challenge you to embrace who you really are and all of your choices that come with that. Take time to acknowledge that this may have changed from where you were on your journey at this time last Christmas, and that’s okay! Maybe last year you chose to indulge in all the holiday treats and this year you’ve decided not to. Maybe this time around, you are somewhere in-between. Or, perhaps you have no idea yet.
Remember, the reality is that no one or two days of anything are going to highly impact your progress in either direction. Think of it this way: If you show up to the gym for two days in a row, do you immediately increase your back squat one rep max? No, you don’t. The same goes for eating off plan for a day or two.
Really, the long-term goal for all of us is establishing consistency throughout the rest of the year. That way, when you’ve already created strong habits of hitting the gym on a regular basis each week and consistently crushing your nutrition game, when these special events come around, we already have a solid foundation of consistency to fall back on, so indulging in some treats here and there isn’t such a big deal.
The big picture here and the reminder I’m trying to put out there is that you are in control of your choices. We are all adults. You can have the holidays be whatever you want them to be. Don’t let outside pressures influence what you decide to do. Create that awareness for yourself as to why you may be making certain choices or feeling a certain way and reflect on it. Make sure it is your own!
Realize that you are not responsible for anyone’s feelings or actions but yours. Want to drink four glasses of wine and eat three slices of pecan pie this year? That’s your choice. Want to be the guy/gal that brings the gluten-free health-conscious dish this time around? Also, your choice. Whatever you end up doing this holiday, take ownership and make decisions based on what YOU want for yourself this year, not what anyone else (or social media) may pressure you into. Enjoy YOUR Holiday Season the way you like to!