How to Avoid the Holiday Slide

Wellbeing Tips
December 2, 2022

Forming good habits is no easy feat. It can take a long time to get your body and mind adjusted to a healthy routine, and just when you feel like you have it down…you hit the holidays. Temptations are suddenly everywhere–pies, cookies, and candy canes galore. With early sunsets and dipping temperatures, settling in on the couch in front of the TV probably seems like the perfect escape. And, thanks to the stress that comes hand in hand with the joy of family gatherings, putting your feet up could be all you feel capable of doing. You might as well hook up an eggnog IV and call the whole season a wash. 

Sound familiar? We don’t think the holidays should have to derail your healthy habits, read on to discover how you can enjoy the festivities to the fullest while still making progress towards your goals. 

Get moving to relieve seasonal sluggishness

Staying active during the holidays can be challenging, when heading outside might entail bundling up in layers of clothes and dealing with many forms of unpleasant weather. However, there are opportunities to get active in the fall and winter that aren’t available at other times during the year. From ways to kick activity up a notch around Thanksgiving to evening walks to look at decorations or light displays, rather than a drive. You might even want to sign up for a lesson in a sport you haven’t tried before–think ice skating, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing. If all else fails, put on some music. It’s hard to resist a good old fashioned holiday dance party, and it will get you to your full body workout goal in no time. 

Finding ways to hold yourself accountable can make getting off the couch a bit easier. We asked Susie Felber, our Global Content Director, what motivates her to stay on track. She shared with us that she makes it a point to get 3 holiday races on her calendar: a Halloween 5k, a Turkey Trot, and a Jingle Bell 5K. Letting her family and friends know about the dates—and even just paying the race fee—gives her solid motivation to keep moving, at least through December! After that, she says we may find her “sipping gravy cocktails.” 

No more sugar hangovers

Seasonal sweets and rich meals are abundant during the holidays, and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of enjoying your favorites. We asked people in our Withings Facebook Group for their best tips on finding the right balance. For user Melissa Ziebell, control is key. She doesn’t stop herself from enjoying holiday dishes and sweets, but keeps portion size in mind, opting for half or quarter of the typical serving and sometimes skipping extras like frosting or whipped cream. User Chris Ingoldsby suggests recording your nutrition intake, which can help you visualize where your calories are going and adjust accordingly. 

If you’re a guest, don’t show up to the party on a totally empty stomach–have a snack rich in protein and complex carbs before you go, so you won’t be too tempted to fill up on treats. Paying attention to your body will be key, since it’s easy to mindlessly keep reaching for food when you’re busy chatting and having fun. Take a few minutes every hour to check in with yourself and take a break from eating and drinking. This will allow your body to settle, and you’ll get a better sense of how full you actually are.
Speaking of drinking, sipping on festive cocktails is fun, but can run up your sugar and calorie intake very quickly. Try out these healthy holiday drink recipes that allow you to get festive without fear.

Peace, love…and stress

Unfortunately for many of us, stress is as synonymous with the holidays as desserts. Buying gifts, hosting events, big travel plans–it’s enough to make you want to ditch your routine. And, guess what, it’s not just you! Research shows that the stressed brain will resort to and prioritize old habits in an effort to save energy and resources. It happens to all of us, and curbing those ingrained behaviors you’ve worked hard to overcome is even more difficult during stressful times. 

We can’t just avoid stress, but we can figure out ways to work through it. Luckily, there are some realistic ways to limit stress during the holiday slide. If increasing stress is something that worries you, try to use that worry as motivation. Experts tell us that sticking to healthy habits is actually one of the most effective ways to counteract stress. It’s no surprise, it helps boost your body and mind’s ability to deal with any negative effects. If the New Year and pressure to set big resolutions after the holidays are over is holding you back from steady progress, Chris’s advice is to try skipping them and set smaller goals for yourself without a rigid timeline instead.

Some other tips that can help you feel your best during the holidays include prioritizing your mental health, not just your physical health. The winter blues are real—but there are ways to fight them! Be kind to yourself, and try not to take on more responsibility than you are able to–it’s totally okay to delegate and accept help when you need it. The holiday season isn’t about perfection, it’s about taking the time to slow down and be with the people you love. 

We hope this article will help you conquer the holiday slide, and head into the New Year ready to hit the ground running. Happy celebrating!