Staying Sane this Holiday Season
Author: Hit House
The holidays can bring so much richness into our lives: extra time with family and friends, delicious food, and a feeling of cheeriness and gratitude. But no matter how much we enjoy the bright spots of the season, this time of year can also present us with extra stressors. Because we are usually faced with a significant deviation from our normal schedule at this time of year, we can find ourselves lacking the stress relief we normally gain from our routines and wellness rituals. The good news is that even if we don’t have as much time to devote to our wellbeing, being intentional goes a long way. That’s why we talked to fitness experts, business owners, and wellness enthusiasts and got valuable tips on the small choices you can make to promote health all season long.
First, let’s chat about a huge hurdle people face during this time of year: having the time to focus on wellness. One of the best ways you can make sure you have some time for yourself is to wake up earlier. Let’s face it, our days are unpredictable no matter the time of year, full of unexpected challenges and projects that can waste our time and tank our energy. That’s why giving yourself some moments of peace at the front end of the day can be so good for your overall wellness.
Once you commit to making time for yourself early in the day, consider using that window for exercise. Regina Postrekhinka, an instructor at Hit House, uses this tool to manage changes in her routine:
“I’ve done a lot of long-term traveling,… and the one thing that is non-negotiable for me —if I’m to stay fit—is consistency in my routine. I always make sure to set aside time for my workout …*before* my day starts rolling. Otherwise, time gets away from me with all the fun travel activities and/or I find myself in a mimosa fueled fuzz-like state by 4 pm, after which any fitness ‘plans’ simply never happen.”
– Regina Postrekhinka, Hit House instructor
But if early morning isn’t happening for you, why not rethink your lunch break? This afternoon window can be an amazing time to work up a sweat, decompress, meditate, take a walk, or do something else that balances you out for the rest of the day. No matter if our jobs are in person or at home right now, many of us have a few moments to ourselves in the middle of the day. Since time can be at such a premium this time of year, making the most of these few minutes can make your day that much better.
When it comes to exercise, so many instructors we talked to emphasized the same point: you do not need a ton of time to fit movement into your lifestyle. Here are some thoughts from our favorite fitpros:
“A good tip I usually tell my clients over the holidays is that 10-15 minutes of exercise is infinitely better than none at all…If I had to condense it into one sentence: “Get your heart rate up for ten minutes, it might not seem like much, but it’s significantly more than no exercise at all.”
– Jon Bianco, personal trainer, Muay Thai instructor, and fighter
“A little time goes a long way! Don’t worry about working out for a full hour; if you only have 10 to 15 minutes, make it count!”
– Bri Biffignani, Hit House instructor and CEO of Bri Active
“When I’m busy, it’s not the length or intensity of the workout that matters, but that I worked out at all! A short 15-minute circuit, a brisk walk around the block, a 20-minute yoga video—whatever you can do to make yourself de-stress and feel good!”
Committing yourself to shorter workouts can also help you build a consistent routine all year long. Cam Norsworthy, the creator of Cam on Demand (a platform for virtual pilates and HIIT you can do from home), told us about this:
“Remember that a little bit of effort each day is more impactful than intense spurts at random! If you can’t fit in an hour-long workout, instead aim for 20 minutes split across three days. That way, you’re teaching your body to build a habit, so that building a more steady routine becomes less intimidating.”
Being proactive about your goals and your health could make all the difference during this holiday season. You will save yourself stress and money in the long run by planning for your workouts ahead of time.
We like to think of it as preparing for all scenarios, even the one in which you have absolutely no equipment and less than 15 minutes to yourself. Here are some tips to think about so that you can be ready at a moment’s notice to fit a sweat sesh into your holiday schedule:
– Have a workout routine ready. Having a written plan in your head (or on your phone) of simple moves that can be done without a ton of space or equipment will help you feel ready to exercise while the stuffing bakes, while the mulled wine mulls, while the elves wrap the presents…you get the picture. Try planning a 10-minute routine that you could complete anywhere. Choose 10 exercises and do each for 1 minute.
– Have a workout video ready. Try streaming workouts through the Jetsweat platform or check out Bri, Cam, and other instructors with online platforms. Tons of fitpros have adapted their teaching for time, space, and equipment limitations so you can find your favorite type of workout online. Just make sure not to get bogged down in the process of choosing a video. Remember, 10-15 minutes is way better than none at all, no matter how intense your workout is!
Meditation is also a transformational way to learn more about our minds and catch a few moments of peace and presence amongst the chaos. If you’re trying to figure out how to get started, The Calm App is a wonderful tool for mindfulness meditation that can help you get peace of mind through short meditation sessions.
Jessica He, an avid Calm App user, shared some specific advice on starting or deepening your meditation practice. As with anything new, it can be a bit uncomfortable to get acclimated, but discipline and openness will take you a long way towards greater peace of mind:
“Get clear with your intentions, because when you are, you will want to carve out sacred time and space for yourself to make it purposeful. It won’t be easy with every facet of life, but trying your best to stay rooted in your values and rituals ultimately becomes your foundation.”
And don’t let anyone tell you what your meditation needs to look like because remember, this time is for you.
“You get to define your own process and what works for you, the key is to stick with it because you deserve to keep that promise to yourself. Start small and simple – whether that’s 2 minutes or 10 minutes, every Wednesday or every day. Gradually, you can build up your habit and challenge yourself, and over time it won’t feel like work, it will feel like coming home.”
-Jessica He, Calm App User
It is very easy to get dehydrated during the holiday season. From travel to unpredictable schedules to booze-heavy social events, your body will thank you if you make an effort to stay on top of hydration during this time.
If you do head to a holiday event where you plan to drink alcohol, make sure you balance those drinks out with water. Try instituting a casual rule for yourself where for every holiday drink you take, you also drink a glass of water. And for bonus points, bring your own water bottle to holiday functions to remind yourself to keep drinking water,
One of the other impacts of dehydration is that it can lead to fatigue, low performance on workouts, and just generally not feeling your best. Dana VanPamelen, the co-founder of Hit House, has some tools she uses to get around this:
“One of my favorite parts of the holidays are holiday drinks: specialty coffees, mulled wine, egg nog, and more! All of these are dehydrating, so I make sure to use an electrolyte tablet before going to a holiday party, before drinking, before bed, or just when I’m starting to feel thirsty. Products like NUUN give me that extra little boost. Waking up to workout when dehydrated is no fun.”
Lastly, having a soothing skincare routine can be one of the most serene parts of your day because family members (supposedly) aren’t allowed to barge in on you while you’re washing your face… So when all else fails, make sure you have all the goodies you need to keep your skin happy and healthy during this demanding time of year.
Katie Werbowski from Skin Spa New York and Thom Elzner Skincare gave us amazing tips for bringing that proactive energy to your skincare routine so you can always feel your best, especially during this travel-heavy time of year:
“-Ask for travel-sized items from your favorite brands (we love Pretty Well Beauty!) or buy travel-size refillable jars to bring your skincare regime on the go with you, this will keep your skin’s environment as consistent as possible; this is especially important for your cleanser!
-Skip the coffee/alcohol, bring a water bottle, and apply an extra layer of moisturizer to avoid dehydrated skin on the flight.
-Book any new treatments, injectables, or skin purging treatments (like facials) at least 2 weeks prior to your travel so that your skin can normalize prior to departure.
-Avoid touching your face. You’re exposed to an influx of bacteria in airports, public restrooms, and airplanes, be mindful to wash your hands and keep them away from your face. Wash your face and remoisturize once you get to your final destination to remove any pollution and bacteria buildup.
* * *
By planning ahead and making time to take care of yourself, you can give yourself a better chance at having a holiday season that’s fun, restful, and meaningful. Try to enjoy your routines and rituals, and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go perfectly. After all, surprises are one of the best parts of the season.