ALTON:The most wonderful time of the year

on Monday, 06 December 2021. Posted in Columns, Local News

Kimberly Alton Guest Columnist

Each of us celebrates the holiday season in a different way, but sometimes the last-minute push and chaos of all the events can make what should be a wonderful time of year a time of stress and chaos. This can give way to unhealthy habits. The last thing we need if we want to finish our year strong.

This week we are going to look at a few tips to keep your holiday tipping to the wonderful side and less on the chaos.

Prioritize: Think about the things that are truly important to you for the season. For me there is a certain amount of nostalgia that goes into this season. From decorations from my childhood to the cookies and treats that I only bake once a year – there are things on my “must do” list. Whatever your priority is, write it down. You can rank it from the most important to the least important. If it comes down to a time crunch the least important items can go.

Stick to a budget: Decide ahead of time what you will spend on gifts, food, entertaining for the season – then stick with it! This is especially important if you are an impulse buyer. You can easily impulse buy your way into overextending yourself. I am a list maker. Everything goes on a list – gift list, grocery list, and to do list. This helps keep me in check and on track.

Make a timeline: I am notorious for waiting until the last minute to ship items. Write down deadlines that you need to meet or target dates for things you would like to accomplish. This not only helps get your items to your loved ones on time, but also helps keep you focused so that you are not overwhelmed at the last minute with a long list of things yet to be done.

Look at your schedule for the three weeks leading up to Christmas and decide what needs to happen each week. Maybe the first week you will also get your cards mailed. Perhaps you have a Christmas party to go to and you need to find a festive outfit. These are things that you can take care of early in the month and be done with.

That’s a wrap: Set up a wrapping station in your home where you can begin the tedious task of making all your packages look festive. Doing a little at a time will do wonders for preventing back pain from bending over.

Swap meet: Cookie exchanges are a great way to increase the variety of what you have without you having to do all the work. If you do not have friends or family to swap with, make a list of the items you wish to make, create a grocery list of what you need, and figure out where on your timeline it fits. I may bake a batch of cookies on the same night that I make fudge, or my crockpot peanut clusters. This way I get a few items off that do not require the same equipment.

Final preparations: By the time you hit the last week before Christmas, you should be down to the final steps. Plan your dinner. Make your grocery list and purchase items you need. If you like to do a fancy table, make sure your linen is washed and pressed and your silver is shining.

Check off that last-minute gift list off and finish wrapping. Finishing up these final tasks allows you to have the few days before Christmas to relax and enjoy yourself.

You may be wondering how all of this is going to help keep you healthy.

First, your mental health is important. If you let the season overwhelm you, there is less enjoyment. Weight gain during this season of the year is all too common as well. When we let chaos reign during this time it spills over into other aspects of our lives too.

This is a time of year when we let good eating habits slide and exercise fall by the wayside. Have you ever heard the phrase “control the controllables?” There is so much here that you can control. You can make a gift list, you can stick with a budget and timeline, and you can plan ahead. When we put ourselves more in control of these things the good habits we already have in place will be harder to slide away from.

It is the most wonderful time of the year, and you should have plenty of opportunity to enjoy it too. Here’s to planning out a healthy, holiday season. Until next time… live healthy!

Kimberly Alton is the director of food and nutrition services at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center.