The holiday season is one of joy and celebration as well as stress and temptation. To ensure you remain dedicated to a healthy lifestyle throughout these festivities, it’s paramount to understand how you develop negative habits and how you can conquer six common holiday habits to maintain your health and wellness goals.
What Causes Bad Habits?
A bad habit is essentially a negative pattern or routine that has become an ingrained, unconscious, and automatic component of your behavior.
These habits are typically triggered by everyday situations. The trigger sets off the bad habit, leading you to seek out a reward, which reinforces the habit. Your body perceives this habit as favorable because of the reward it receives for its execution.
In practical terms, this pattern might emerge from a trigger (such as stress during the holidays) that results in a bad habit (such as overindulging in holiday treats) because there’s a reward (immediate pleasure from consuming sweet treats). However, excessive stress can lead to overeating, causing you to deviate from your healthy eating goals.
To effectively break a negative habit, utilize the same trigger-action-reward cycle but substitute the negative action with a positive one. For example, when you notice you feel stressed, choose a different and healthier action that provides you with a similar reward, such as opting for fruit rather than pumpkin pie for dessert.
6 Bad Habits to Replace this Holiday Season
To break your negative holiday habits, you must first learn to identify them. Here are six not-so-good habits to pay attention to and replace with positive habits this season to maintain your health and well-being.
1. Eating Too Many Desserts
Amidst the abundance of holiday desserts such as apple pie, Christmas cookies,
and festive snacks, giving yourself access to a healthier alternative can help you counter overindulgence triggered by the temptation of sweets.
Swap the habit of eating sugary baked goods with a healthier option, such as eating fruit. This way, you can reward your brain without spiking your blood sugar.
With events such as Black Friday, the holiday season offers shoppers ample opportunities for spending. But if you tend to overspend on gifts to make your loved ones happy, consider finding alternatives that don’t impact your financial goals.
You don’t have to completely avoid gift-shopping, however; you can simply approach gift-giving differently. Small, thoughtful gifts can often have a significant impact on your friends and family without straining your budget.
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3. Excessive Drinking
During the holiday season, alcoholic drinks might be more readily available than at other times of the year, providing you with numerous occasions and settings for indulgence. If you tend to overconsume alcohol, pay close attention to the triggers that prompt excessive drinking, such as stress.
Whenever feasible, try to steer clear of these triggers. When attending festive gatherings, consider having mocktails or alcohol substitutes available to you so you can participate in the celebrations without giving in to your bad habit.
It’s not only desserts and drinks that can tempt you during the holidays—there’s an abundance of food available to you in various forms. If you find yourself overeating when you need emotional comfort, you may want to explore alternative holiday stress management techniques.
Activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or walking, can help you cope with stress. These practices can provide you with the emotional relief you seek so you don’t feel the need to overconsume calories.
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Amidst a rush of holiday activities — meeting work deadlines, covering for colleagues on leave, organizing parties, shopping, decorating, and caring for kids during their school break — getting a full eight hours of sleep might not be your top priority. However, it’s essential to maintain your sleep routine due to the negative impacts of sleep deprivation.
If you enjoy the rewarding work or simply getting everything done provides to your brain, try accomplishing tasks by delegating responsibilities to others or by seeking external support, such as childcare, cleaning services, or a personal assistant, so you can get enough rest and stay healthy.
6. Procrastinating on Exercise
We get it, lounging around is comforting, but physical activity can feel especially rewarding when you find the motivation to get off the couch and into the gym. There’s no need to put your fitness objectives on hold until January. You can take small steps toward better health now. Try a calming yoga session while watching the snow fall or park farther from the stores to get in more steps while you shop for gifts.
The Bottom Line
By identifying your negative habits and actively working to overcome them over the holiday season, you pave the way for a successful and more fulfilling year-end, ensuring you experience greater health and happiness overall.
Need help eliminating your bad habits this season and into 2024? Sign up for our Habit Coach app to stay on track with building positive habits and eliminating negative ones.