Maintaining Self-Control This Holiday SeasonOver the Holiday season, it is so easy to spend too much, eat too much, drink too much, etc. It seems we are always stretching ourselves just a little too thin during this time of year. All of the parties, planning, stress of families, etc. Well, there are a few things that you can do to help work towards not over eating, staying in shape, and meeting your goals this holiday season.

Imagine the entire picture: the end goal

I will agree – those little holiday snacks look really good! Especially when a bunch of them are brought into the office for all the employees. When you find yourself thinking, “ that cookie looks so good, I think I’ll go eat one, or two, or five…” try to catch yourself, and think about the entire picture. If your goal is to lose weight, or even just not gain weight this season, try telling yourself, “In whole grand scheme of things, is this going to help me meet my goal?” Take note of why having this snack will or will not help you with your end goal. Focusing on how we can achieve our goal, instead of why we are trying for this goal will keep us stuck in concrete as opposed to abstract thinking.

If it’s sweets your craving, try eating an apple. This really is an easy way to shift your attention, and improve your ability to say, “no – I do not want to gain weight this holiday season, I’m not going to eat this snack.” Or if you still really want that snack, exchange it for something else… use the snack as a reward, “I will only eat this cookie after I have worked out, or gone for a walk, etc.” Do not say, “I’ll work out later,” because, how often do you actually work out later?

 Remember – Self Control takes work!

Yeah, I know – you don’t really want to feel as if you are working this holiday season, but it’s true… self-control does take work, and uses up our energy throughout the days, weeks, months. It is important to keep in mind what other things can use up this energy, so you know ahead of time when you are more likely to be strong, allowing you to prepare in advance for days you know self-control may be difficult.

If you are someone who does things to stuff down emotions, it may be helpful to find a better way to express those emotions. For example, maybe you are an emotional eater, and you are trying to lose weight. When you’re feeling mad or upset, try making yourself journal before turning to the fridge. If you smoke when you get angry or frustrated, try going for a walk, venting to a friend or coworker.

Having to make a lot of decisions or planning, even if they do not seem important, can take up a bit of mental energy. If you’ve planned a big move, or trip, allow your self some “recuperating time”, as to save up energy for future situations where you may need some self-control. Again, if healthy eating is that goal – avoid going into fast food restaurants, or places that you know are your weakness. If you tend to spend too much money at Christmas, try bargain shopping online, or not going into those expensive stores that you know you’ll spend money at.

Being physically tired also drains your mental energy. This is why sleep isso important, make sure you are all caught up on your sleep debt and keep goodsleep hygiene! If you know you have less energy in the evening, but are trying to start working out, maybe try fitting in your workout in the morning when you know you have more energy.

In Sum…

It is possible to reach these goals, and keep up control over them this holiday season, you just need to make a game plan! What goals do you have? What are you trying stay in control of this holiday season? What is your game plan?

Additional Suggested Reading/Resources

How to improve you self control (psyblog)

How to increase your self control without really trying  (psyblog)

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (PsychCentral)

Will Power, Self-Control Can Be Learned (PsychCentral)

Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.

Maintaining Self-Control This Holiday Season
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