The word “holiday” ought to be synonymous with fun, relaxing and celebratory, right?  So why is it that we often associate them with stress, weight gain and emotional exhaustion? Are holidays in modern times inherently related to over-eating, lack of exercise, and family politics… not to mention the overwhelming work simply to unplug for a few days?  I’d like to think not.

Most holidays originated as rituals to acknowledge, celebrate and appreciate a significant event, the life of a great being, or a transition from one season, or one year, to the next. Through Christmas we celebrate the life of a great saint who taught us about love and compassion. Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for the simple things that sustain us: family, community and the bounty of the earth. New Years marks the transition from darkness to light, from one year to the next… a perfect time to reflect and set intentions to live a happier, healthier life.

Holidays can be about slowing down, prioritizing what is important, and sharing the best of yourself with the people you love. You can choose to build more joy into your holidays and take out the stress by keeping yourself healthy and by focusing on the true essence of the holiday. This Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, try incorporating the following tips for healthy and happy holidays, and notice how relaxing and inspiring holidays can be!

5 Tips To Healthy & Happy Holidays
1) Spend a few minutes reflecting on the meaning of a given holiday — what it signifies to you personally. What positive qualities are you inspired to develop in yourself? What do you want to share with others?
2) What are the pitfalls that cause you stress — write them out and strategize about how to avoid falling into old traps. 
3) Make a to-do list of things that need to get done in preparation (planning meals, work, travel, gift giving) — prioritize actions, let go of what’s not truly important, and put a time-frame next to the ones that are.
4) Prioritize Your Well-Being & Exercise – Incorporate your yoga practice, gym, jogging, hiking into each day of your holiday — and encourage those around you to join.  Get the crowd to go out for for walks after each meal!
5) Savor Small Portions – Avoid over-eating; it will make you tired and cranky. Decide ahead of time to eat just one helping. Eat with gratitude, joy and mindfulness!
About the Author

Gayle Olson, founder of Exotic Yoga Retreats and author of The Yoga & Fitness Guide for Women, has taught and practiced Vinyasa, Iyengar and Hatha yoga around the world for over 20 years.

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