Surviving seems to be the goal over the holidays. We wonder if we can just make it through the holidays and get to the end is the goal.

Getting to the place of thriving over the holidays can seem unattainable. Thriving can seem unreachable, because of all we have come to believe we must DO each holiday season.

Imagine thriving as the goal? What would that look like?

  • Slowing down.
  • Be Mindful.
  • Spend money in a reasonable manner.
  • Use your time in a way that is enlivening.

I have been imagining (and practicing) how I can thrive this holiday.

Let’s start by looking at how is stress and overwhelm is showing up for you.

  • Start by identifying what the overwhelm looks like.

Some helpful ways to connect with overwhelm is to journal and meditate. Get quiet to see how the stress and overwhelm are showing up for you. Are you:

  • Responding to others’ expectations of you?

You might be feeling the need to always say yes. Thinking this is tradition. This is “what we always do.” Expectations can be overwhelming.

  • Scared about being around food?

Wondering how much food will there be? Will I eat too much? Will I be judged. Will I drink too much?

  • Feeling bad about your body and how you look.

Feeling afraid others will notice your size and comment on it or disapprove of it? Or you just do not feel comfortable in your own skin.

  • Is stress showing up in your body?

Stress can show up as sickness or feeling physically bad.

  • Fearful of not having enough time or money.

Time and money are limited resources and this time of year we think we have more than we actually do.

Money can become a problem when we rely on credit cards to pay, and we go into debt. Time becomes a problem when we do not plan well and become reactive.

Make a plan to manage the stress.

  1. A great technique is to ask yourself, “What is the stress and overwhelm trying to tell me?”

The feelings are informative and can provide a guidepost if you let it. Then sink into the question, “What do I really want?”

I recently became sick, and I asked my body what it was trying to tell me. I realized I was too overscheduled, and my body was saying I needed to rest more. The sickness MADE me have to rest and I did.

2. It can be helpful to plan to incorporate food into your holiday. Food can be a huge trigger this time of year.

A helpful strategy is to eat 3 meals a day. Eat what you normally eat. Don’t save up for the “big meal,” because this is a set up to restrict/binge/shame. When we do not eat regularly, our body thinks we are restricting, and it will lead you to crave food and overeat.

3. You might wonder if you need to say no to sugary treats?

Not allowing yourself to have sugary treats can set you up to binge. If you deny what you want ultimately when emotions show up, you will have less resolve to not eat the sugary foods. Instead of denying yourself, allow yourself to have what you want. When you are eating regular meals and allowing yourself treats, there is less likelihood that you will binge. If you do binge, forgive yourself and move on. Being stuck in anger and resentment about overeating will NEVER lead to a change in behavior.

4. Set limits on others AND yourself? Say no to what does not work for you.

This is the time of expectations other can have of us. What is it that you want to do? Do that!

Where is your NO to other people? What will you do, and won’t you do? I think it is a time to have more no’s than yes’. It is ok to say no to a past family tradition, if they are not what you want this year. Doing things for others because we think we have to leads to overwhelm and stress. Let’s do it differently this year.

Lastly, we tend to put expectations on ourselves. We think we need to bake, clean, buy, go out, etc. We think we need to maintain holiday traditions. Take a deep breath and determine if this still fits for you. Say no when you need to.

How can this holiday be an opportunity to thrive?

First, focus on what is right for you? Yes, you can be limited in the activities that you do. Time is a limited resource, use it wisely.

I have decided I want more rest and peace this holiday season.  Being in front of the twinkling lights is thriving for me.

Second, coping strategies are really thriving strategies. Say no as you need to. Ask for what you want. Set your expectations on time and money.  Eliminate the stressors. Take that internal check to see what stresses you and find a way to let go of the stressor.

Third, what is your reason for the season?

  • What is this holiday about for you?
  • After the holiday, what do you want to be, do, have?
  • Be present for what you need and focus on making that happen.

My desire for this holiday is to experience more peace, light, joy, and love. My plans for this holiday are designed to meet that desired goal.

Lastly, be intentional about this holiday to get all the goodness out of it.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, and Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the best-selling book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.

You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms.

Wondering if you are an emotional eater? Sign up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz.