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How do you balance the added stress that the holidays bring?

The holidays are upon us.  With the holidays we have warm evenings full of good food, cups of cheer, and more time with family.  But often, the holidays bring an increase in stress right along with the warm fuzzies.  Already, most of us are trying to juggle work, gym, and family time, while the holidays toss in additional shopping, functions, and family visits.  Not to mention the countless goodie baskets that keep showing up in the office and on our front porches.

April Johnston, MS, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) stopped by to talk for a moment with us about holiday stress.

The holiday season can bring many happy times with loved ones. It can also be a source of stress. For some, the holidays can also bring financial pressures, an increased obligation to family and friends, weight gain worries, and guilt over not fitting it all in. It’s especially important to be kind to yourself and to take care of yourself, because holidays demand a lot of us. Promise yourself you will try to set healthy boundaries and to give yourself what you need. If you struggle with this because it seems selfish, remember the wise saying “you can’t give from an empty cup.” Imagine how much more present and compassionate you could be with your loved ones if you first took some time to give yourself the same. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” It’s okay to say no to invitations from family members, friends, or coworkers. It’s okay to decline yet another holiday cookie at work. Ask yourself if the benefits outweighs the negatives.” 

With the added obligations during the holidays, it is more important than ever to budget your time wisely.  There are only so many hours in the day, and sometimes sacrifices need to be made.  However, when it come to the gym, you can easily find a few extra hours per week by focusing on “bulking” this holiday season.

“Cardio” or “Bulk?”

In order to burn the calories you have been decimating, you might be thinking more cardio. But for the last two months of the year, you should embrace the lifestyle of a strongman and gain some muscle! At the turn of the new year, you can hit the cardio hard to condition the muscle. I mean, you could just do CrossFit and all that will pretty much be taken care of for you.

Wait, you want me to bulk?! I’m not trying to be bigger!

Relax, it is just 2 of 12 months out of the year; and if you get bigger, then it isn’t the 2 months that got you! Check your other 10.

Bulking during the holiday season works for multiple rationales. First, you limit some of the “not-enough-time-in-the-day” stress as the gym is not quite as demanding. you won’t need to be going to the gym 5-6 days per week as it won’t give you a leg up on the gain train. Instead, just 3-4 days per week is plenty. So much time just freed up with that little change. Second, you limit the stress of counting every calorie.  The extra, hearty food that comes with the holidays will make it easier to gain muscle, and you won’t have to stress as much about eating that slice of pumpkin pie.  Bulking is ideal for this season because it is less stress, the nutrition supports it, and you have more time!

You don’t have to just take my word for it.  April Johnston is also a Registered Yoga Teacher who agrees that “bulking” is the way to go during the holidays since that flows with nature’s winter cycle.

The Ultimate Time Budget

Don’t let the stress of time overtake you this holiday season.  Spend a moment to budget your time.  3-4 hours at the gym, 40 hours of work, 56 hours of sleep. That leaves about 68 hours in the week. Let’s dedicate 2 hours per day to family. That still leaves 54 hours to do as you please!

Start making your time budget, but remember, a budget only works if you stick to it. If you have never time budgeted, you should try it. Write down exactly what you do during the day and what time you do it. You will be appalled at how much time you actually waste!