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Tips for a “Well Winter Closure”
As Stanford prepares to close its doors for the upcoming Winter Closure, faculty and staff head home or to other destinations — most in search of a chance to relax, reconnect and reboot.
But relaxing is not always easy with the pressures of the holidays (cooking, shopping, decorating, traveling), the onslaught of rich foods, and the change in routines (“the in-laws are coming over again?”). Our BeWell coaches have come up with the following tips for how to survive and thrive during this winter break:
Leading up to break: Ideas for your Stanford work group
- As a team, identify the work priorities for the holiday season, knowing that staff might be out of the office more with parties (both work-related and personal), illnesses (colds and flu are especially common this time of year) and running around getting all the last-minute holiday preparations done.
- Rather than having a food-focused celebration, take the time to engage in a group volunteer experience. Perhaps serve a meal together at a soup kitchen or assemble personal hygiene bags for a local homeless shelter. Community needs are higher during the holidays, so volunteering is even more appreciated than usual.
During break: Dealing with stress, planning, and presents
- Set realistic goals for what you can accomplish during the holiday season. You don’t have to do it all. Maybe you don’t need to organize your child’s school holiday party if you know that work will also be incredibly busy.
- Focus on other aspects of well-being besides exercise and eating. Use the time to do something creative or rediscover a hobby. Enjoy the social connections.
- In order to keep a handle on stress, consider streamlining your holiday gift giving. When sending gifts to people far away, buy online and send the package directly to them (rather than buying in store and making a separate trip to the post office or UPS store.) When buying multiple small gifts (e.g., for teachers, coaches, hair stylist), find one place where you can buy all the gifts in bulk. Consider buying an extra gift or two to have on hand so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute for a gift for the karate teacher you forgot about.
- Don’t forget to take time for self-care (read more about it). You might think you don’t have time to spend an hour engaging in a restorative hobby or practice, but that nervous breakdown you are preventing by doing so would have taken a lot more time out of your schedule!
At holiday gatherings: Managing all those holiday food temptations
- To minimize holiday weight gain, aim for indulging with intention. When at a party, identify one or two irresistible treats and eat a small amount of each. And if one of those treats turns out not so “irresistible” after all, you don’t have to finish it! Fill the rest of your plate with healthy, lower calorie options like crudité, hummus, boiled shrimp, raw or grilled vegetables, fresh fruit, and salad.
- Follow the 80/20 rule during the holidays. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love, (which only leads to over indulgence). Instead, eat healthy (lots of greens) 80% of the time, and allow yourself to enjoy the season 20% of the time.
- Other strategies to avoid overeating include eating a healthy snack before a party so you don’t arrive famished, bringing a healthy option to a holiday potluck so you know there will be at least one healthy option to eat, splitting entrees or desserts with others when going out for a holiday meal, and watching your alcohol intake.
- If you attend a holiday party with a lot of snacks, try to keep a beverage in hand: tea and seltzer are two good options. Oftentimes at social events, we eat to engage in a group action rather than to satisfy hunger. When you have a drink in hand, you can stay connected to the group activities without overindulging.
- Find a new seasonal tea (peppermint, vanilla), or an old favorite, and create an evening ritual of enjoying that delicious hot drink. Enjoy the smell and the warmth. This is particularly useful when avoiding the onslaught of holiday sweets, and a nice way to pause and take time for yourself during this busy time of year.
Surviving the family holiday