How to Actively Enjoy The Holidays

By: Megan Buchanan | megan.buchanan@activecities.com

The holidays are a great time for us to connect with family and friends, catch up on things we’ve been avoiding, and enjoy rest and relaxation. Although they bring joy and excitement, holiday breaks can throw us off of our typical routines. If we’re lucky, we spend time traveling, visiting family, attending parties, and entertaining friends. Additionally, many of our holiday plans revolve around food and drink, and a lot of it!

As an active, routine-oriented person, this can sometimes be internally disruptive for me. Additionally, around this time of year, we see advertisements and articles telling us the best way to keep off that holiday weight, or what trendy new diet we should take up in January as your new year’s resolution. It can be difficult to not let these destructive messages that promote diet culture and restrictive eating blend in with my desire to stay active. It’s also important, and sometimes difficult, to remember that the purpose of the holidays is to enjoy and take a break when you’re usually someone who is constantly sticking to a regular workout schedule.

The balance of staying active while also enjoying yourself is a tricky one to maintain, but here are some tips to help you find that happy medium of staying true to your active self while also giving yourself a break.

1. Plan To Be Unplanned

If you’re anything like me, your day is meticulously pre-recorded on your calendar to the hour. Whether it be meetings, classes, workouts, outings with friends, if it wasn’t written down on the schedule, then did it actually happen? While living like this may keep us organized and on-schedule, when it comes to the holidays, we have to accept the fluidity and unpredictable nature that these days entail. Maybe the drive to your family member’s house took longer than expected and you weren’t able to squeeze in your evening run, or baking cookies with the kids turned into an hours-long cleanup process. Remember that skipping your planned workout for a day (or for a week, for that matter) is not the end of the world. Not sticking to a regimented schedule for a few weeks is not going to set you back or derail your entire future (in fitness and in life). Before (and during) this time of year, make some mental space to remind yourself that this is time meant to be enjoyed by taking a break from your normal routine and that this is something to be embraced, not dreaded.

2. Get The Whole Group Together 
Staying active during the holidays does not necessarily mean that you have to leave the group to get your workout in. There are plenty of ways you can get your whole group up and moving with you. Whether it be going for a walk, playing pickup soccer in the yard, or even squaring off for Just Dance in the living room, you can find ways to get everyone to be active with you. These activities can even grow into family traditions for the future! Even if it’s not your usual routine, getting up and active with your loved ones is a great way to bring everyone together.

3. Reflect 

The holidays come at a perfect time to allow you to reflect on your actions and goals. Spending time with loved ones is something we all cherish, and with a greater amount of unscheduled hours during the day, we have more time to remember what’s truly important in life. A shock to your typical routine is sometimes a good thing–maybe you’ll realize that taking a break every once in a while is actually a healthy practice (especially to avoid overtraining injuries) or that you actually like being active in group settings (see #2) more than you thought. Once the holidays are over and the new year rolls around, it’s a perfect time to think about how to incorporate active habits that spark joy in your everyday life.

The holidays can be a stressful time of the year. Remember that although your workout regimen may be disrupted, it may not necessarily be a bad thing to utilize this break to your advantage. Enjoy your holidays, think about what’s important to you, and remember that if you’re someone who has to balance being active and spending time with family, you are truly lucky.