If you are like me, you know that the combination of indulgent food, judgmental family members, and little time for self-care can make the holidays a stress cyclone. Even worse, the pressure to look great in your holiday outfits can overwhelm even the most confident among us. Self-judgement does more than obliterate self-esteem, your body hears it and reacts. I used to struggle this time of year, but I’m happy to say that I now am comfortable enough to get through the season without beating myself up or talking negatively about my body. Here are tips on how to practice body positivity during the holidays, so that you can do the same.
Forget food guilt
Instead of cutting out your favorite foods during the holidays, eat what makes you happy — until you are full. Keep in mind that it’s one month out of the year and treating yourself doesn’t have to throw off your overall approach to healthy living. The mind poses the real threat to your system. So, rather than dissecting everything you have eaten since November, remember that your body listens to what you tell it. If you constantly repeat thoughts like, “I’m going to gain weight” or “I shouldn’t be eating like this,” they will manifest. Have mantras ready to go for when these thoughts creep in. Think things like “I chose to eat this because I deserve it” or “One meal will not affect me forever.” If you still feel food guilt, it may be time to evaluate what else is going on.
Exercise to celebrate, not punish your body
If you find that you are forcing yourself to run on the treadmill while watching the calorie count, change the thought. Be grateful for the extra time you have, try something new, and celebrate your body and what it is capable of. Consider practices like yoga that bring together physical and mental discipline while releasing muscle tension. Or, if you’re for something more intense, go to a group class, such as dance aerobics, where you’ll be inspired by like-minded individuals.
Monitor the way you talk to yourself
If your friend said the things you say to yourself, would you keep them in your life? Probably not. Yet the average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her appearance a day. “Your self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says life coach Cherelle Palmer. “If you only focus on the negative parts of your body, chances are those will overshadow the positive aspects of the season.” People offer this advice all the time; however, in my opinion, it can be the hardest in practice. Therefore, you must make a conscious commitment to catch and replace negative thoughts with achievements (e.g. “My body did that” or “I am capable of this“).
Be mindful with your time
Considering the season is all about giving to others, it’s important to squeeze in some time for yourself. Do yourself a favor and carve out some time with no technology, people or distractions. Detach from your thoughts, even if only for five or 10 minutes. Relish in the fact that you are here, in this body, enjoying this time with loved ones. I also find it helpful to meditate on the idea of forgiveness leading up to the holidays. With forgiveness, you allow yourself to let go of any resentment or judgement you hold, so that your mind will be clearer, your heart more open, and you’ll be able to accept yourself much more readily.