When Circle of Moms blogger Amy Rhoads writes that she loves the holidays and the many family traditions they bring, including "food, lots of food," she's underscoring one of the many challenges the season can serve up for moms. The person in each family charged with preparing all that food, not to mention visits with family and friends, shopping marathons, social functions, gift-wrapping and decorating, is faced with a lot of stress and real challenges to healthy habits, both physical and mental. It’s all too easy for moms to get caught up in holiday activities and forget about themselves, says member Kate C.
"For me, staying healthy during the holidays is more than just eating well and exercising. It’s about staying sane and not driving myself crazy with stress or to the point of absolute exhaustion," offers a member named Carly.
To help restore some balance to moms’ hectic calendars, as Carly strives to do, I've rounded up the following five tips from members on staying physically and mentally healthy throughout the holiday season.
1. Find a Way to Exercise
Cynthia O. points out that to some extent, the holidays are like any other time of the year for most moms – busy and hectic. There's just "a little bit more to do than usual, and higher calorie treats."
With that reality in mind, she and Becky J. both combat the extra stress and temptation by maintaining regular routines for working out, and for meals and snacks. Becky, who asserts that, "Planning is key to staying healthy, especially during the holidays," even sticks to her normal meal plans on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
While some moms are able to make time for a regular exercise routine during the holidays, moms like Anita H. say that jam-packed days and evenings call for flexibility. She shortens her usual one-hour workout a bit because of the hustle and bustle of extra errands and activities. But working out for even a few minutes helps her to feel less guilty about indulging in the holiday excess. "Something is always better than nothing," she laughs.
Moms Mary A., Gina J. and Amy R. agree that the key is finding some way to fit in physical activity. Gina packs exercise DVDs when she travels to see family. Mary burns off calories and stress by using stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, as well as by parking further away from the storefront when at a shopping mall. And instead of working out alone, which she doesn’t have time for because of extra activities during the holidays, Amy plays active games with her family, such as Wii Dance. "If anything, your abs will get a good workout from all of the laughs and good times," she reassures.
2. Pare Down Activities
The annual whirlwind of activity is good as long as moms keep realistic expectations about what they have time for, says Kate. "I no longer cram my personal or family calendar with holiday activities," she explains. Instead, her family prioritizes the events and outings that are truly special and meaningful. "That way I enjoy the season and savor the moments watching my children revel in the holiday magic. If we miss something, I don’t fret."
Mom Carly suggests another way to pare down a mom's to-do list: outsourcing. For instance, she ditches baking from scratch and instead buys sugar cookies for her kids to decorate, takes advantage of store gift wrapping services, and shops online so that gifts can be shipped directly to friends instead of wrapping and delivering them herself.
In other words, have some holiday fun, "do what you can do, and don't sweat it if you can't get everything done," says Denise G. "I find that if I keep it manageable, then that overwhelming feeling doesn't consume the holiday."
3. Carve Out Some ‘Me Time'
For Carly, experiencing the holiday season as a parent without taking any breathers for herself can make her feel like she's going to "face plant into a vat of homemade caramel corn." To avert the overload, she now carves out at least 10 minutes of "me" time each day. What she does with these breaks varies from reading a book to doing yoga or meeting a girlfriend for coffee early in the morning when her family's still sleeping.
"Sometimes we are full of conversation, and other times we quietly sit and sip our morning java. For me, it is a great way to regroup before I start the day," she says.
Jody P. also schedules "major down time" for herself to "chill out" with no activities. The mentality of, "'I'm not here. You don't see me' really has helped not feel so rushed," she says.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.