1. Be realistic about expectations. Don’t buy into all the commercial hype and the “Norman Rockwell syndrome”
2. Sit back and write down what YOU want out of the holiday, try to stay on track with what you want by referring to the written list. Make these things happen for you.
3. Reduce stress by delegating duties, reducing what you have traditionally taken on, and simplifying where you can.
4. If you are alone, make an effort to contact people you care about by phone, email, skype or cards and get together with them to celebrate.
5. If you are going through some transitions in your life, create new traditions filled with things you love about the holidays.
6. Bring and utilize the self-care suggestions from the program when you visit for the season and even when you are home.
7. Remember that holiday time is very emotional for everyone and that you are vulnerable to overeating in response to these feelings. Take special care of your emotional state and use your supports and self-care. Practice your assertiveness skills to give yourself a voice when needed.
8. If you travel home for the holidays, remember that you are an adult, in the process of significant change. You are not the child you once were and when the temptation to return to those old familiar behaviors surfaces, try to respond from the new perspective you have versus the old reactive way.
9. If you feel pressure to eat and are not hungry, comment on it visually and about how it smells. You can say “no thank you, maybe later”. You can save a piece of pie for yourself when you are hungry if you are worried about not having any when you want it. You get to decide when you want to eat. Listen carefully to yourself. Enjoy it when you are ready to eat without concern about comments from others.
10. Remember to eat exactly what you want when you want it. This means that when everyone sits down to dinner, you may not be hungry at that time, or you may only be a 1-2. Eat only till you are comfortable, then when you are a 4 (1 being satisfied and 10 being famished), eat what you want. Try to plan on being hungry for the meal, but not too hungry at a 9 or 10.
11. Take a walk or call a support person if tension rises at the gathering. Food won’t take away the feelings, and you can handle taking care of yourself even if loved ones don’t get it.
12. Schedule your time carefully if you are responsible for a lot of details. Get on top of things early and be in charge of how you experience your holiday.
13. Be cautious to resist the excuse to overeat because it’s the holidays. Be exceptionally conscious while eating. Taste what looks good and pay close attention to how much you want and stop when you are done. You can take a small taste of many things on the plate and consciously compare the tastes and textures as an experiment about knowing your preferences. Remember that feeling so full that you’re sick isn’t the goal. Remember to sit down and concentrate on what is in front of you. Don’t hide. Don’t be afraid to throw food away. You can be subtle about it.
14. Create a special holiday gift for yourself every day, such as lighting candles, buying flowers, buying a CD, going to a concert or play, using special linens, using special serving pieces and glasses, hanging lights etc…
15. Make time for yourself every day during the season. You could journal, create a list of what you relaly want for the season, identify people you can make peace with, meditate, read a book or daily reader, take a bath etc.. This is allowed when you are visiting others too. It is necessary for you and others often won’t notice or care.
16. Say “no” more often to requests of you and more of “yes” for yourself. You’ll never need to worry about being too self-centered. It is not your nature and you have been practicing other-centered holidays for too long.
17. Eat and move like babies. Eat when you are hungry, have what you truly desire, stop when you are satisfied and take it all in emotionally, spiritually and physically. Move when you get an itch to do so, in the way that brings you joy for a time period that respects your body without pressure or promises to do more.