Mind & Body Holiday Survival Guide

Today I have something a little different for you!  Get excited!  With the holiday season on the horizon (It’s November already?!) my grad school classmate, Lauren Cash, was kind enough to contribute a guest post to The Savvy Sweet Potato. Lauren’s anti-diet approach to eating is a healthy reminder to check in with yourself, love your body, and nourish your soul. 

When it comes to the holidays, things get a little wild when trying to listen to your body and care for yourself. There are a lot of events with an enormous variety of food. There are family members that are difficult to get along with or stress you out. It’s a tough time to tend to your mind and body during the next few months. You don’t realize how much caring for yourself might have fallen by the wayside until January 1st hits. Then you crack down to an extreme on health related goals, vowing never to touch a sweet piece of dessert again.

But that didn’t work for very long this year, now did it?

Instead of these extremes, what if we had a doable way to approach the holidays? What if you sat down ahead of time and figured out a mini plan of attack, before you find yourself sitting in the corner overeating cookies to calm down?

Here are 10 tips for keeping your sanity this season:

1. Practice saying, “Thanks anyway”

This tip applies to many aspects of the holiday season. Instead of overcommitting to one too many ugly Christmas sweater parties, practice only agreeing to go to the absolute best options or decide on a cut off for the number of events you’re able to attend per week. Parties are no fun when you’re burnt out on socializing.

Also practice saying, “Thanks anyway” when you’re offered food if it’s something you don’t care for or you’ve already had enough of. Listen to your body and let others deal with their own emotions.

2. Remember that you can always eat it again later

During the holidays there’s this huge drive to “eat it all now or you’ll never get to again until next year!” Although it might be true, you actually could eat it another time, if you wanted to. That green bean casserole or those mashed potatoes can be made on another occasion if you love them so much. Remind yourself that you can go back for seconds if you’re still hungry or that you can save the extras to enjoy tomorrow when you’re hungry again. They’ll taste that much better when you’re actually hungry (it’s physiologically true!).

3. Set aside self-care time

If you’re visiting others, having family visit, or just attending a lot of social events, it’s tough to get enough time to yourself. Be mindful about how much time you’re getting to rest and recoup. If you’re visiting someone, try giving yourself time away by driving to a coffee shop or going for a walk. If you have visitors in your home, coordinate time alone, I’m sure they’ll appreciate this space too. Everyone will be grateful that you’re less stressed and are more ready to be fully present with them when you’ve taken this time.

4. Take breaks

This applies to taking break to get adequate amounts of self-care time, but also take breaks from the festivities. Try to keep life moving smoothly as best you can throughout the holidays by stepping away from the holiday vibe itself. Take a moment to pay some bills or to plan a time to move your body. Keeping some routines will aid in the reentry in January. Oh, and also take breaks when you’re eating a holiday meal. Set your fork down, check in with yourself. Ask yourself: How is the food tasting? Am I full? Am I hungry? What’s my favorite part of this meal?

5. Move your body in life-giving ways

During the holidays it can be rough trying to keep up with exercise or working out (or as I like to call it, movement). A lot of the time this can be because you’re around so many people, traveling, or more busy outside of your usual routine. Choose a life-giving form of movement to try to keep going in your life, even during the holidays. Invite others to join you or schedule nonnegotiable time to do it. You’ll feel so much better come January 1st, plus it will do wonders for your mental health.

6. Eat what you want

Listen to your taste buds (more in my ebook released today about this). Don’t like a certain food? Don’t force yourself to eat it, other than maybe being adventurous and trying it one more time. Life’s too short to eat foods you hate. When you’re done, push your plate away, even if there’s food still on it. Don’t force yourself to finish what you’ve served yourself when your eyes were too big for your stomach. Listen to how you feel after you eat certain foods and eat those that make you feel the best before, during, and after a meal.

7. Wear what feels good

When choosing clothes to wear during the days surrounding the holidays, pick pieces that fit and flatter. You don’t want to get extra down on yourself just because you’re wearing something that doesn’t quite fit anymore. Be honest with yourself when you don’t love how you’re looking one day. Pinpoint what’s wrong with your outfit and ditch the item that you no longer love. Wear only flattering clothes that make you feel great in your own skin. Don’t analyze your size or if you used to fit into that Christmas turtleneck last year but don’t this year. That’s wasted energy. Ditch it and move on.

8. It’s not the end of the world

Remind yourself that the holidays come and go quickly every year. It’s not the end-all be-all time of the year. Your body is worth taking care of during all seasons because the consequences carry over to the next. Take care of yourself and listen to your body. You’ll enjoy this season and the next so much more!

9. Practice gratitude

Often during the holidays we can get down on our circumstances, whether it’s not loving where we’re at with a significant other or wishing we had more money. When we practice a posture of gratitude, rather than of complaining, we see the world through a new lens. This helps us to experience life in a positive light, even when things aren’t perfect. You know, they’ll never really be perfect. So let’s practice being grateful what we have, and be open to more.

10. Pick core desired emotions AKA ways you want to feel

I’ve been learning from Danielle La Porte’s book, The Desire Map, lately. What I’ve learned is that when we get clear about the way we want to feel and work on developing goals with soul around these feelings, life starts feeling how we want to feel. I’m toying with the idea of words like “calm”, “tranquil”, “gutsy”, and “gentle”. How do you want to feel?

Happy holidays! I hope these tips help you cope more easily with the busy holidays ahead. Find solstice in some ritual like drinking your morning coffee. Find joy in giving to someone, even if it’s just doing their dishes.

How about you? What are your survival tricks during the holidays? What has worked for you in the past?

Lauren Cash is in her first year of her Master of Science program at California State University, Los Angeles studying nutritional science. She also has a Bachelor of Science in human development and a Master of Arts in psychology. Lauren is passionate about healing people’s relationship with their food and bodies. She specializes in eating disorders and hopes to work in a treatment center or her own practice as a Registered Dietitian in the future. She’s into an anti-diet approach called “Intuitive Eating” and just released her first eBook on November 3rd called “Taste: How to Figure Out What You’re Hungry for Without Ditching Nutrition.” When not studying or working, Lauren can be found consuming coffee while spending time on her Mac perusing the articles she’s saved for further reading or blogging at Breathe & Nourish. If you happen to tear her away from her computer, she’s probably walking while listening to an audiobook or spending time with friends.

Image credit: Sebastian Muller under the Creative Commons license.


  1. Leopard Mama Beans

    Wow! Fabulous interaction between two gifted writers and brilliant dieticians! Keep up the collaboration, I say! MB

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