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What to do when being healthy is stressing you out this holiday season

Holly Lemmons

Retrofit Exercise Physiologist

In times of stress, we turn to healthy foods, exercise and meditation to decompress and bring balance back to our lives. But what happens when the very things we do to decrease stress are stressing us out? Sometimes the self-care goals we set for ourselves can create feelings of failure and anxiety when not met, and these feelings often occur around the holiday season. Ensuring your goals are realistic will make you more likely to succeed and less likely to travel down the path of self sabotage. Try the following tips to prevent your healthy lifestyle from stressing you out this winter.

Make your goals measurable. Don’t simply say, “I’m going to eat healthy,” or “I’m going to work out this week.” What will you do? Where will you do it and when? Be as detailed as possible in your planning. In fact, keeping a journal will help you to capture some concrete information about your goals.

Set goals that are realistic for you. Don’t set your expectations too high; think about what you are willing and able to achieve, rather than what you think you should. Think about any social occasions you have coming up and factor them into your plan. Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach your goal, but this eliminates the negative thoughts that come with not reaching a goal.

Make sure your goals are made for you, by you. Never run before? Don’t aim for running a 5k in one week. Tailor your goals, so they fit into your lifestyle, routine and objectives.

We’re human. We work best with a deadline. Give yourself an endpoint to accomplish your goals and after a certain amount of time has passed, re-evaluate and adjust as necessary. If you haven’t met your goal, then revisit the section about regarding setting realistic goals for you.

Exercise for your body AND mind. The goal of mind-body exercise is to calm and relax your body while you move. Deep breathing is a great stress reliever in itself, and also is incorporated into some types of mind-body exercise as well. Yoga, pilates, Tai Chi and even simple stretching are all activities you can try to de-stress.

Note the type and time of your workout. In addition to the type of workout, the time you choose to exercise also can have varying effects on our mindset. Try to avoid popular gym times, when it’s crowded and busy; opt for an early or late workout instead. This may mean getting up earlier or holding off working out until later, but this will positively affect your mood and your stress levels.

Location, location, location! Think about going to a local park for your run or walk instead of hitting the treadmill at the gym. If you usually workout outside, but the weather is too bad, look into taking a class at the gym you’ve always wanted to try. Finding a location that suits your exercise goals will help de-clutter and de-stress your mind.

Remember, there’s not one workout, time or location that relieves stress for everyone at every time, so experiment! Find something that suits you. Exercise should be enjoyable, not a punishment, and definitely not seasonal. Finding the right workout for you will aid stress relief and keep your mind and your body healthy, all year round.

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