How to Balance Holiday Disruptions with Your Routine

Holiday Disruptions Can Be Good and Bad

Winter holidays and vacation from our normal routines can throw off the schedule of even the most dedicated self-care practitioner. Whether it is a health and fitness routine or just a regular work schedule, the holidays can disrupt our lives in good and bad ways. If you are reading this, you are most likely an adult. One who works, goes grocery shopping, take care of him or her self, and who has the ability to make choices. You are in control of your vacation and how you spend your holiday. With this in mind, you have the power to make this holiday your best yet. Balancing disruptions with routine and healthy practices is the key to having a happy, healthy, and fulfilling holiday. 

Practice Self Care By Being Self Aware

Positive and negative disruptions are subjective, so be sure to check in with yourself and determine what feels good to you and what works with your own personal life, goals, and needs. Self awareness is the knowledge and understanding of one’s motives, beliefs, desires and dislikes. As the holidays are upon us, and we may be exposed to family, activities and other disruptions, it is important to take stock of what you do and don’t want to deal with.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes me happy?
  • What will I not tolerate?
  • What am I looking forward to?
  • What are the things I am able to politely decline?
  • What is healthy or unhealthy for me?

Taking inventory of how you feel about any upcoming events, be strong in your convictions of things that are unhealthy for you, and plan for things that you will enjoy and that will fill you up. 

Positive Disruptions and Routine Interruptions

Not all disruptions to your routine are negative or inconvenient. Some disruptions, or interruptions, are welcomed and can bring great joy. The value gained from making new memories, trying new things, or going to new places will often outweigh the possible negative disruption to your routine. 

Consider these examples that may be a positive disruption:

  • Dinner with relatives from out of town can be a positive disruption to your routine, as it may not be something you get to do often, and the memories made are often worth the change in diet or missed gym visit. 
  • Tickets to a concert, show, or play may disrupt your regular routine and leave you tired the next day, but it can be worth it if you truly enjoy the event and are excited to do something out of the ordinary.
  • Holiday parties can be a positive interruption to your normal weekend routine, or a fun way to get to know coworkers or new friends. 
  • Vacations are often a positive disruption that can include new and exciting activities and food, great memories, adventures or lots of relaxation. 

Managing Negative Disruptions

Positive disruptions for some can be negative for others. Sometimes family drama, childhood trauma or familial separations, or addictions can make “normal” holiday activities a chore. If you must attend an event, there are ways to avoid the holiday blues and stress that goes with it. 

Avoid the holiday blues and stress by practicing the following mindfulness tactics:

  • Don’t pressure yourself. Be mindful of setting unrealistic expectations for decorating, making plans, financial obligations such as gift giving, and overextending yourself. Be aware of your limits and budgets and do not allow anyone to pressure you to push past them. Remind yourself that although it is fun to forget your budget when it comes to holiday shopping, you may regret it later and find yourself with undue stress.  
  • Be prepared to indulge. It is not uncommon to eat differently, or eat more, during the holiday season. If you are attending holiday parties, family dinners, brunches or other food-related gatherings, this can cause anxiety and even trigger those who struggle with eating disorders. If you are feeling stress with regard to food, consider that you do have control of the amount you eat and also can maintain your routine when not at a gathering. Stick to your regular eating plan when you can, or for the other meals of the day of the event, exercise when you are able, but be flexible. Make healthy choices when you can and enjoy your event knowing that you will return to normal the next day. 
  • Carve out time for yourself. If you have a full day of activities planned, consider taking a walk around the block to be alone, schedule time for a nap or just quiet time away from the crowd. Be sure to balance your family and friend time with alone time so you do not experience holiday burnout. 
  • Remember that you can say no. If you are feeling anxiety or stress about an event, or are in recovery and feel that an event will put your recovery at risk, it is time to consider declining the invitation. Your routine is crucial in maintaining mental health as well as recovery from addictions and eating disorders, especially at the beginning of any healing regimen. The people in your life who truly care about you will understand that you will have to say no sometimes, and it may be helpful to explain the reason behind a decline or why you are choosing to stay home. 

Balancing Routine with Disruptions

Whether you are planning a vacation or upcoming holiday gatherings, remember to balance your routine with its interruptions. If most of your upcoming events are centered around dinner plans, be sure to stick to your morning and daytime routines and to incorporate self care practices. Stick to your exercise schedule, even if you have to shorten your workout or change the time that you visit the gym. Eat healthy foods before you head out to a party where there might be unhealthy options, so that you do not overindulge out of hunger. If you are in recovery from substance abuse, be sure to have alternate drink options with you, or ask the host to include beverages that are non-alcoholic. Most importantly, protect your own mental health above all else, and be sure to say no when you need to. 

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