It’s hard to say which is less fun: that last-minute dash into a crowded shopping mall to snag a forgotten gift or staying up until all hours wrapping that gift — and all the others. But that 3 a.m. plate of cookies and a mug of cocoa may only make it feel okay in the short-term.
Indulging occasionally during the holidays is perfectly fine, but using those indulgences to combat stress can easily lead to weight gain. A day full of running errands can lead to unhealthy snacking or a fast-food lunch. Besides weight gain, these behaviors can also result in you feeling guilty over your food choices.
But it doesn’t have to play out like this. A little pre-holiday legwork and list-making can lead to a remarkably calm holiday season.
1. Don’t dine and dash
Let’s start with food: The holidays are a busy time, and after a day of shopping, groceries and other errands, you may not feel like cooking. But a little preparation goes a long way:
- Make a big batch of vegetable soup in the fall and freeze it. That way, dinner can be defrosting in the fridge while you’re out, meaning a healthy meal is on the table in minutes — and the delivery menus stay in the drawer.
- Pack healthy snacks like nuts or dried fruit to snack on while you do your errands to avoid the impulse drive-through.
- Plan lunch with a friend at a healthy restaurant to break up your errands and ensure you don’t eat junk food on the run.
2. Pass the stress test
This is a tougher fix because a schedule that’s gone from zero to 50 in terms of things to do is difficult to manage.
The trick here is to be sensible:
- Break up the shopping trips into manageable events,
- Make a list of the places you’re going and create a geographical plan, starting with the furthest errand first and working your way back toward home as you go, and
- Don’t take an “all or nothing” attitude to getting everything marked off that to-do list in one day or one weekend. If picking up the tree, or the dry cleaning, runs into the next day, just sit down, regroup and draw up a new list.
3. Practice routine maintenance
Most importantly, try not to get knocked too far out of your usual routine. If regular workouts or fitness classes are part of your everyday life, try not to skip them. If they aren’t, consider scheduling time to try out one or two new fitness activities in the fall and beat the post-holiday rush to the gym.
Consider FitnessBlue, a program that gives BCBST members access to more than 8,000 participating gyms and fitness centers nationwide for one monthly fee per member. It’s an easy, affordable way to ramp up your exercise routine, or get one going. And nothing busts up stress like a good cardio session.
4. Shop smart
Blue365 has links to trusted partners offering fitness gear, healthy eating options, personal care products and more. From vitamins and water bottles to skin care and even genetic testing kits, it’s got you covered. A few minutes on the website will show you how to scratch some names off the holiday gift list without fighting traffic, another guaranteed way to reduce stress.
5. Sorry shouldn’t be the hardest word
As the holidays approach, so do the invites and other commitments. Enter everything onto a calendar — online, kitchen wall, on your desk — the minute you get it. This calendar can help you determine your RSVP, because you can visualize just how overloaded your schedule is becoming. Knowing when to say no will help you prioritize so you’re not trying to get to six holiday events in one night.