The last few months of the year are all about eating, drinking, and being merry. But all this indulging often leads to feelings of guilt and a rush to get back on track come the new year.
If most of your favorite traditions are unhealthy, now’s the time to switch them up. Adopting healthier traditions can help you, your family, and your friends stay on track while having fun—setting you up for success before the new year even starts.
Honor your routine
One of the best and potentially worst parts of the holiday season is the disruption to your schedule. Time off from work, parties with family and friends, and other seasonal festivities can all throw your routine out of whack. However, if you do your best to maintain your routine throughout autumn and into the holidays, you’ll be less likely to feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Stick to the activities you enjoy.
If you attend a weekly spin class, do yoga every morning, or prep your meals for the week on Sunday night, you don’t have to put those activities on hold when the holidays roll around. Sticking to your usual routine can give you a sense of normalcy amid the busyness of the holidays and remind you to prioritize self-care; just remember to give yourself a break if you fall off track. A good way to maintain your routine is to plan. Sign up for the next few weeks of workout classes at once, jot down a month’s worth of meal ideas you can make ahead of time, or set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to start your yoga or meditation practice.
Remember your mental health.
Speaking of self-care, the holiday season often brings pressure to be perfect, which can be burdensome if you’re not in good spirits 24/7. Don’t neglect your mental health during this time of year. Instead of forcing yourself to feel happy and grateful, consider starting an end-of-year tradition of jotting down the year’s highlights. Thinking about the high points of the previous months can help put things in perspective and give you something to remember the year by. You can even get creative and turn your highlights list into a scrapbook complete with pictures, notes, and other memories from the year.
Make it a family affair
Nothing beats the extra time spent with loved ones during the holidays. But if family members have different energy levels, the days or weeks spent together can cause frustration and conflict. Establishing healthy and positive end-of-year traditions and goals together can give you something to look forward to.
Work out as a group.
Although it’s not every family’s cup of tea, a Thanksgiving “turkey trot” or holiday “fun run” can be a great way to get everyone moving ahead of the big meal. These runs are typically held on the days leading up to or on the morning of the holiday, and most are held to raise money for the community or other important causes—so you’ll be participating in something that benefits both your health and the greater good. If running isn’t your thing, consider starting the tradition of a family hike or friendly football game before dinner to stay active.
The holidays are one of the most popular times to volunteer, and if you and your loved ones want to make a significant impact, consider signing up to volunteer with a local charity a couple of times before year’s end. If you’re animal lovers, you could all take turns walking dogs from a shelter or working together to collect supplies to donate. Are you all artistically inclined? You could hold an art auction to raise money for a charity of your choice. No matter how you choose to volunteer, making it a part of your holiday traditions is a great way to feel good and do good at the same time.
Why wait until January 1 for a fresh start? Create a game plan and healthy habits now that will carry you through to the new year and make accomplishing your goals much easier.
Donate or give away what you don’t need.
If you’ve accumulated unused belongings throughout the year, now is a good time to take stock of what you don’t need or want and to get rid of it. Clutter can be a strain on your mental health, which is why getting organized is often one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. It can take a long time to sort through your possessions and determine what can stay and what can go—so don’t wait! Over the next few months, give yourself a week to comb through each room of your home, and place anything for donation into boxes or bags. You can also ask friends and family if they have any use for your unwanted items.
Get a head start on your resolutions.
The unfortunate flaw with most New Year’s resolutions is that you are already putting yourself behind the eight ball by waiting until the new year to begin. No written rule says the first day of the calendar must be your kickoff date. You can start a tradition of setting a small goal, such as drinking more water or standing more throughout the day, each week leading up to the new year. That way, you’ve already had weeks of practice sticking to your goals.
The next few weeks and months are some of the busiest of the year. Setting goals and establishing positive traditions well ahead of the holidays is the best way to ensure your season is healthy and productive.