The holidays are wonderful – an amazing opportunity to reconnect with those closest to you while enjoying the things in life that matter most.
They’re also the perfect recipe for a fitness disaster, or at least a rapid decline. The combination of extra travel, fewer hours of daylight, colder weather, mixed up schedules and decadent foods and drinks can make it easy to put your fitness routine on the back burner. Add in financial and family-related stress and you could feel like you’re facing inevitable devastation.
The holidays can be full of joy. But, like we said before, they can also be full of stress. In fact, 69% of Americans claim to feel an increase of stress around the holidays (and that’s only those that are willing to admit it!).
While the causes of this stress vary from one person to another, a few possibilities include:
• Financial insecurity.
• Increased social obligations.
• Time spent with family you generally avoid.
• Hosting family and friends.
• Travel, and more.
Stress increases the likelihood a variety of physical conditions from back pain, muscle aches and colds to fatigue and a general avoidance of physical activity. None of this spells anything positive for fitness.
What does it take to stick with it? Where can you find a little extra holiday motivation? Dust off those running shoes, get your sport earbuds ready and power up the running GPS; we’ve got you covered.
The first step to any plan is to think back before you think forward.
What have your holidays looked like in the past? What are your main sources of stress? Most importantly, how did you react? If it was by taking a break from your fitness routine, how did you feel at the end of the holiday season?
When you think back to the feelings you experienced in the past, you may be more motivated to avoid them in the future. Write down your thoughts, and how you could make this year better than last year.
Nothing increases stress – and decreases the chance that you’ll get that workout in that you planned – like unexpected holiday happenings.
Sure, grabbing a few drinks with friends at the last minute isn’t going to cause lasting damage. However, when that one time turns into an everyday event, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
Take a look at your calendar. When will certain family members and friends be in town? Reach out and try to get a few dates and times on the calendar. Then, as we’ve mentioned before (because we’re big proponents of it!), put your workouts on the calendar just like your other events.
When something is scheduled, it’s more likely to happen, and less likely to be affected by last minute changes to the plan. Even if the schedule looks a little different than the rest of the year, something is always better than nothing when it comes to staying in shape.
What’s the most important part of the holiday for you and your immediate family? Are there parts of your holiday season that you’d rather just avoid? What if you could actually avoid them?
Great news: you can.
Yes, the holidays are about spending time with others, but not if that means sacrificing what’s most important to you. Is there a family get together you dread every year? Make plans now to avoid it. Plan a trip of your own (where you can incorporate your favorite workouts – Christmas runs on the beach in the Caribbean? Why not?), a deep tissue massage to reduce stress, or something else that keeps you away from the event you dread.
A night out rock climbing with friends could very well top an evening stuck rehashing the same old stories with relatives you’d rather avoid – but you didn’t hear that from us.
If fitness is something you’re passionate about, something that makes you feel good about yourself, why not treat yourself to something that relates to it next year.
Sign up for something you’ve always dreamed of doing. A marathon in Hawaii? An obstacle race the next town over? A special hike when the weather turns warm? It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to be something you’re excited about.
The best part about signing up for a fitness-related event is that you’ll have to stay in shape to make it happen. When you’re thinking about just staying in bed, you’ll be able to focus on why you need to get out of it, and it’ll be more likely to happen. Focusing on the future is a great way to get through the present!
Stress is inevitable; especially during the holidays. But, you can do yourself a few favors that reduce it in the meantime.
Fitness doesn’t have to go on hold until the New Year. Dig deep, find the motivation you need to push through the rest of 2016, and start 2017 on the right foot!