Thanksgiving represents the start of the holiday season; the arrival of winter weather; the first taste of seasonal, festive recipes; and the coming together of family and friends. All of these simultaneous changes may throw off your routine, but the foundation you’ve built is strong enough to help you stay on track in your new day-to-day. Here are some tips from Calibrate’s Expert Council for tiny tweaks to food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health that can help help ensure a mindful introduction to the holiday season.
Have a Plate Plan (even for dessert): Go into Thanksgiving dinner with an idea of what specific foods and portion sizes you will have for each of your favorite items. Planning this ahead of time will help eliminate stress and the risk of grazing throughout mealtime. This is especially helpful when it comes to dessert. If you opt for seconds, wait at least ten minutes before refilling your plate.
Snack Beforehand: Eat a healthy and intentional snack between meals. This will mitigate hunger and help you control portion sizes by ensuring that your hunger and blood sugar levels aren’t at extremes by the time you gather around the Thanksgiving table.
Hydrate: With all the festivities and food surrounding Thanksgiving, staying hydrated may not be in the forefront of our minds. However, counterintuitive as it may seem, the changing seasons and colder weather can lead to dehydration, making it imperative to drink plenty of fluids. This is a great time to revisit your water goal—½ your body weight in ounces, up to 120 ounces of water per day—and set a new challenge to achieve it everyday during the holiday season.
Start your Day with Sunshine: The short, cold days make it harder to get natural sunlight. It may take more intentional effort to get outside and get sunshine, but it is important for many aspects of our health. Getting sunshine in the morning is a great way to start your day both physically and emotionally. The darker days can throw off our systems’ circadian rhythm. Re-introducing natural light to the start of your day can help with sleep, emotional health, and your body’s overall functionality.
Caffeine is not a Replacement for Sleep: As tempting as it may seem to compensate for the darker days with a double espresso, overconsumption of caffeine can lead to midday crashes, weakening the overall goal of staying sharp and alert. Instead, try making time for movement. A morning walk can boost your energy with fresh air and an increased heart rate, with the added bonus of starting your day with sunshine.
Get Your Steps In: The colder weather can definitely be a deterrent for getting out and about during the day, but try finding as many ways as possible to stay active. Signing up for a walk or race can be a great way to commit to a goal and get outside. You can be creative too! Try watching a show on the treadmill or doing some indoor workouts. This could also be a good opportunity to introduce a new indoor exercise habit.
Embrace the Season: Use the festivities of the season to your advantage as you work toward your goals. Thanksgiving is a great time to go on long family walks or even try a Turkey Trot. The falling leaves and changing season can also be a perfect time to get out and do some yard work. You’ll be surprised how much you can burn raking leaves or shoveling snow!
Know the Signs of SAD: Many of us experience a type of clinical depression known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) with the changing seasons. SAD can contribute to changes in appetite, sleep, weight regulation, and overall emotional health. If you’re struggling to find motivation to do the things you love and carry out your day-to-day activities, talk to your doctor.
Get your Fill of Nature: Take the opportunity to enjoy nature in the changing seasons. Find a nearby forest or park to explore and take along your pet, family, or friends. Make note of each of your senses on your walk. What do you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste? Ecotherapy research (the study of nature therapy) has shown a connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.