Love, Always

Your Holiday Survival Kit: Psychologist-Approved Techniques To Help You Stop Overspending, Overeating & Overcramming Your Calendar.

Here’s a startling statistic:

According to a recent study, 45% of Americans get so stressed out around the winter holidays, they would prefer to just “skip Christmas” all together.

It’s tragic, but… apparently, we are turning into a nation of Grinches!

And yet, these sentiments are completely understandable.

There is a huge amount of pressure — imposed by the media, by loved ones, and by ourselves — to spend like crazy, eat like crazy, do everything, be everywhere, and be the perfect holiday host or hostess for everyone. All while juggling work, fitness, relationships, parenting, and all of our other commitments.

The holidays can feel like a tremendous emotional and financial burden — but of course, as most of us know, deep down inside, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The final call — how you want to feel and how you want to live — isn’t up to “the media” or your “mother-in-law” or anyone else.

It’s up to you.

Of course, having the right tools — and planning guidelines — can always help.

Here’s my take on how to combat the three biggest emotional challenges that tend to come up for people during the holiday season.

I call ‘em the Big Three: overspending, overeating + overcramming your calendar.

Consider this: your Holiday Survival Kit.

Deck the halls and heeere we go!

Overspending.


Why people overspend: 



One of the biggest reasons that people tend to overspend during the holiday season is poor planning and procrastination. Obvious, but true.

Instead of making a holiday spending budget, weeks or months in advance, people wait until the last minute. Panic ensues!

When you’re in a panicked frame of mind, it’s tough to make wise, empowering decisions. Often, people wind up frantically dashing around the mall, without a list or a budget, spending much more than they had intended to… just grabbing “one more thing” here, and “one more thing” there.

Another one of the biggest reasons why people overspend? Trying to impress people, or worrying what others will think if you buy a less expensive gift.

Don’t let other people’s opinions dictate your holiday budget or your holiday experience.

This is your money — and your life.

You make the call.

How to prevent overspending:

Create a strategy and a budget for your holiday gift shopping. Do it soon, before the holidays are in full swing.

Budgeting is a form of financial and emotional self-care. You deserve it.

Remember that the holidays are ultimately about sharing love and friendship — not “stuff.”

If you’re feeling worried about what others might think about you, your gifts, or the cost of your gifts, remind yourself:

“My friends + family love me for who I am, not how much I spend.

Remember, too, that creating handmade gifts can be a great way to stay on budget, while pouring tons of love into every gift. Channel your inner Martha Stewart, get inspired by crafts on Etsy, create a personalized mixtape, write a handwritten love letter… and give a gift that can’t be purchased at the mall.

Overeating

Why people overeat:

First, there’s the most obvious reason: there’s just so much yummy food around during the holidays, and it’s really easy to be tempted to eat when you’re not hungry, or eat too much.

Then, there’s another reason: emotional eating. Eating out of loneliness, anger, disappointment, stress, or to hide your true feelings — like at a family gathering where you’re pretending to be cheerful even though that’s not how you really feel.

How to prevent overeating:



Whenever you feel the need to overeat, start by taking a few deep breaths.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but deep breathing acts like a “reset” button for your autonomic nervous system, which controls your heart rate, adrenal glands and stress hormones. Think of it like pressing a “pause” or “calm down” button. Instant relief.

Deep breathing will relax you and give you just enough time to remember how important you are… important enough to treat yourself and your body with the highest respect.

Important enough to not stuff your feelings or manage your stress with food.

Important enough to have the courage to politely decline that second piece of pie from Aunt Sara.

In a nutshell, important enough to take care of yourself by saying “No” to overeating and “Yes!” to feeling healthy and strong.

Keep in mind that you’re not saying “No” to a particular food, FOREVER. “Forever” is a very long time! You’re not saying, “I can NEVER ever have a piece of pecan pie, again.”

What you’re actually saying is, “I can have a piece of pecan pie at some point in my life, but because I am already satisfied and full at the moment, I choose not to, right now.”

This is empowering language. It’s not about punishment or deprivation — it’s about choice. Free will. Self-respect.

When you do choose to eat holiday treats, give yourself permission to enjoy them — in moderation. No guilt. Just be mindful of portion size, eat slowly, and savor each bite.

Overcramming your calendar



Why people overcram:

Got five billion things on your calendar, from Thanksgiving Day all the way to New Year’s Eve?

There could be several factors at play.

For starters, you could be feeling…

: Excited about the holiday festivities — parties, get-togethers, concerts, fun times! All of that excitement may be causing you to temporarily lose touch with reality and cram more onto your calendar than you can realistically do.

: Afraid to say “No” — “What will they think if I don’t attend that holiday party?” — or guilty if you don’t attend an event — “I’ll be letting them down if I don’t go” — or obligated to say “Yes” for some other reason.

: Afraid of missing out — “I have three parties scheduled in one evening. I’ve gotta drop in on all three or I might miss… something!”

How to prevent overcramming:



It’s pretty simple:

Schedule less.

Or, more specifically: schedule what matters… to you. Your true priorities.

Remember that saying “Yes” for the wrong reasons (like: “What will they think of me if I say ‘No?’”) is not healthy. It’s a recipe for getting run-down, resentful, or even sick… and then sniffling and hacking your way through the whole season.

Your number one priority is to take care of yourself. This includes setting boundaries, saying “No,” and making time for what is truly important to you.

Take some time to schedule all of your truly important priorities onto the calendar, right now, before the holiday rush begins.

Schedule your work outs, your date nights, your special playtime with your kids, your coffee dates with friends, your solo / private / recharging time, and yes, a few thoughtfully-selected holiday activities that you are genuinely excited about.

Mark your priorities onto your calendar. Treat each one with absolute respect, like a job or a doctor’s appointment or your own wedding ceremony. These are the commitments that matter.

As Stephen Covey reminds us:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Make time for what is truly precious and meaningful to you.

Say “No, thank you” to everything else.

Do that, and you’ll be beautifully prepared for a healthy, happy holiday season… full of priceless memories, not chaotic last-minute mall runs or miserable post-binge mornings.

It’s your life. Your money. Your body. Your call.

Ring in the season with strength, self-respect and self-love.

Those are the best gifts of all.

xo.

This article was originally written for and published on BossFit, a digital magazine for all business types.

A big “thank you” to Jacqueline Carly, aka. Jacq, co-founder and editor-in-chief of BossFit mag, for sharing my writing with your readers.