This year the holidays are more important than ever, because last year was such a bummer.
That freaking pandemic was a real Scrooge. So many gatherings were smaller or cancelled.
Our Thanksgiving was just the three of us - for me that was the smallest in my whole life.
The food was still great, but I’m from a huge family and I like Thanksgiving to be crazy and full of all the people I haven’t seen in too long.
The importance is higher, the expectations are higher, and the stress levels are certainly going to be higher.
The stress of the holidays affects everyone differently, but it does affect everyone.
All of the family and friends, and the parties, and the decorating and the presents, and the expectations that you are supposed to be giving, grateful, inspired, creative, fun, and yadayadya you know how the list goes on.....It's wonderful - and stressful.
The problem is that there is still only twenty four hours in the day and this time of the year most of those hours are dark and cold.
Of people polled during pre-pandemic years nearly half of them said that the holidays are so stressful that they would rather skip them all together.
But you can’t really skip the holidays - especially this year.
Still, we have limited time, limited energy, limited amounts of money and somehow we still are expected to fit it all in.
We do it with a smile and a heaping helping holiday cheer.
It's obvious why this season is so stressful but remember it’s also magical and wonderful.
De-stressing the holidays is good for everyone - even the non-Keto people, so feel free to share these tips.
Having a Keto holiday, continuing to lose weight, and keeping all the rest of the benefits of the ketogenic diet might sound unrealistic.
But You Can Do It. Here's How:
Don’t Stress About Being Perfect.
You're not perfect, your family’s not, no one is, but your friends and family members are the imperfect lovable interesting people that you want to spend time with.
Under all of the pet peeves and annoying habits, you love them and they love you too. That's what the holidays are supposed to be about. So many times we fixate on what’s wrong, and what's annoying us.
Instead, concentrate on what you love and encourage everyone to do the same. Encourage what you love and ignore what you don't. The refocus will not only reduce stress, it'll make more fun for everyone.
Pause, and Consider Who You’re Talking To.
“Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. Angry, pause. When tired, pause. Stressed, pause.”
In the pause, breathe and consider what someone said, why they said it, and if it requires a response or just acknowledgement.
My family thinks arguing politics and economics is fun - like a sport. We do this with respect and love, almost like there’s rules. But, I never try to engage in political “discussion” at a gathering with more people than my immediate family.
Some people thrive on drama - maybe because their lives are boring - I don't know, but if you take the time to pause you can avoid engaging someone who just wants to suck you into their drama.
You might even be able to steer that conversation in a different direction - maybe the direction of more fun and holiday cheer.
As the Dalai Lama said, “If it can be solved, there’s no need to worry, and if it can’t be solved, worry is of no use.”
Worrying about anything causes unnecessary stress.
Worrying about something you can't control doubles the stress without any upside.
It is much less stressful to accept what you can't control.
As George Burns put it so nicely, "there is never a need to worry, if you can't do anything about it, don't worry, if you can do something, do it, there's no reason to worry."
Plan Some Down Time
Especially if you're an introvert like me, all the socializing can be exhausting. That's not to say that I don't enjoy it, but it takes a tremendous amount of energy.
Know your limits, and when it's time to get some rest, excuse yourself and get some rest.
People - like my brothers - will say "c'mon the night is still young." I will respond that "the night is as old as I am and both of us need to get to bed."
I don't know if this will make it more fun for the extroverts, but don't expend more energy than you can afford when it comes to the social aspects of the holidays.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is always a good idea. During the holidays we get time crunched and start cutting out stuff that we think that we don't have time for. Make time for exercise, or fit it in somehow.
Exercise is the best known stress reducer. It increases your energy, and reduces your recovery time.
So take the dog for a walk. Walk to the party. Take a yoga break. Play with kids - they still like to do running around sorts of things.
I don't know about your gatherings, but with my family, there is always a kid who wants to play catch or go sledding.
There is a Buddhist saying, “when you cease expecting you will have all things.”
Or as I like to say, you will have nothing but you'll like it.
The thing is, when there is a big difference between what you expect and what you get, disappointment and stress are the results.
You can expect this to be a magical Christmas straight from the imagination of Norman Rockwell.
You can expect that everyone will be pleased with their gifts.
And, if you want you can expect that every gift you get was picked with the utmost consideration.
You could expect that everyone will be possessed by the giving spirit of Christmas and that all the children will joyously begin to sing in perfect harmony.
I don't have a crystal ball, but I would guarantee that if you expect all those things you will be disappointed.
By contrast if you keep your expectations simple you will won't be disappointed - you may even be pleasantly surprised.
If you expect some good food and good company and that some of your neighbors will put up pretty lights you won't be disappointed.
Keep it Simple
Give as much as you can with the time you have.
You may not get everything you want or deserve, but you will have a much better Christmas if you keep it simple.
I'm probably on the naughty list, so I expect to get nothing.
So I will be pleasantly surprised when I get a present.
I am also going to expect that my Mom will make her traditional holiday fruit drops and they will be delicious. I know I can count on that.
They are definitely not Keto so I don't expect that I will have a bunch of them like I did last year.
Learn to Say No
A lot of holiday stress is caused by doing things that you just don't want to do - things that you don't have time or energy for.
Learn to say no to these things.
Make it a quality and honest no, but be kind.
You don't have to give a reason or an explanation. Say "no, thank you, I can't fit that in."
You don't have to say you have an important appointment or you have to wash your hair.
When you feel obligated to do something that you don't want to do, you should ask yourself why you feel obligated.
If the obligation is concern over what someone else thinks, that is something you can say no to.
It's okay, I swear.
The other choice is to do it like you want to do it. There are situations when this is the best choice.
If it were just me I probably would not put up a Christmas Tree - not that I am all bah-humbuggy, I just don't really think it would be worth the work.
But come Christmas time, I enthusiastically put up a Christmas tree.
A Christmas Tree makes my family happy and when they are happy it makes me happy.
With that attitude, I have fun decorating the tree.
Plan What Your Going to Eat and What You're not Going to Eat.
I know this is a tired thing that everyone says, but it is true that if you "fail to plan, you plan to fail."
If you are doing Keto for medical reasons like high blood pressure you need to be strict and let your body heal.
You need to know what you can eat and what you can't.
Maybe bring some Keto friendly food just so you have something. And, you may want to brush up on Keto recipes and meal plans.
Otherwise eat that ham, turkey, shrimp and salad, and don't eat the potatoes, bread, pie and cookies.
Have vodka and soda, or whiskey, and don't have the beer, liqueur, and foofy drinks. If it's your party, there are Keto drinks here.
Know Your Keto Food
Before you get to the holiday meals know what has carbs and what doesn't. Take care of the big stuff.
Don't sweat the small stuff. Know when your cheating.
And don't beat yourself up about any of it. You're not going to die from eating a cookie.
If you need ideas for Holiday food, check these out:
Some people choose to suspend Keto for the holidays, and that's fine.
Or, you can just go with the holiday Keto diet which means don't eat the bread, potatoes and pasta. Allow yourself a lot of wiggle room.
Know Your Keto Drinks
For a lot of people the holidays involve alcohol, and that's fine. If you need to know about Keto alcohol check out this post.
Find a Keto Buddy
I'm a Keto enthusiast, so I have gotten a bunch of my family and friends to go Keto too.
So when I go to a party I almost always have someone who understands the Keto diet and will support me - A Keto buddy.
If you are just starting you should try to find a Keto buddy for the Holidays.
Do you have trouble with holiday stress? Or advice about holiday stress? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Cheers and Happy Holidays,