The holidays are a magical time. Stores decorated for the season, joyous music playing all around, and intoxicating aromas fill the air. If you are anything like I am, turning the calendar to the month of December turns my mind back to the nostalgia of childhood and many fond memories.
Amidst the warm holiday bliss, however, is the nagging, building stress that is synonymous with December. Manage your mounting stress with a few well-laid workout plans heading into the holidays.
Maximize Your Gym Time
You know the days are shorter now with Daylight Savings a thing of this year’s past, and with the shopping days quickly slipping away, you might be more inclined to skip the gym to hit the mall. Forgoing the elliptical will only make you feel more stressed about another “to do” that didn’t get done. Get on a cardio machine and make your shopping list for Christmas dinner while you workout. Or, if scratching a list of last minute gifts on paper is too awkward, use the voice notes recorder on your phone and replay it as you race through the store isles later.
Steal an Extra Fifteen Extra Minutes of Waking Hours
Wake up fifteen minutes earlier than you would normally for one week. Use this time to plan and organize the hectic day ahead of you, before the kids get up and you are distracted with lunch making and piecing together costumes for the holiday recital dress rehearsal. Schedule your workout in ink as one of your daily appointments, even if it is only for the fifteen minutes you gained by rising earlier.
Plan Your Shopping Time Wisely
Forget hitting the mall. Use the time you would have spent fighting for parking and standing in long lines for a brisk walk or run instead. Shop online after the kids are in bed, and reward yourself with a cup of soothing herbal tea as you shop in peace and quiet (in your pajamas).
Be Aware of Over Scheduling
Sure, hosting that cookie decorating party sounds tempting, and it can be rewarding to see your daughter’s entire preschool class in your kitchen, covered in flour and smiling frosting grins. Just try not to add to your level of holiday stress by taking on more than you can manage, and first weigh the cost of adding that extra activity before you take it on. If party planning, cookie supply shopping, and pre (and post!) party house cleaning rob you of your scant 45 minutes to exercise, maybe you can delegate some of the details to other moms and make it a BYOS (Bring Your Own Sprinkles) cookie potluck.
Designate Some Downtime for Yourself
Just as we try to carefully manage our children’s many activities, we should be as conscientious with ourselves. Holiday planning, shopping, and traveling tend to wear everyone down, not just little ones. To increase your own coping skills in the chaos, allow yourself some decompression with modified exercise. Spin comfortably on the recumbent bike with a book instead of killing it in spin class, or float peacefully in the pool rather than grinding out grueling sets. Give yourself the gift of rejuvenation through gentle yoga if that relaxes you. You will still be relieving stress, and giving yourself permission to scale back your normal fitness intensity may be just the encouragement you need to get into the gym.
Make (and Keep) Exercise a Priority All Year Long
Keep the joy in your holiday season by planning ahead. Be selective about what you really need to accomplish and what can be eliminated from the schedule. Try to keep exercise a top priority and you just may find that the rest of your commitments will run like a well-oiled machine as a result.