5 Health Tips To Help You Remain Head-Strong During The Holiday Season
In this month’s blog-post I would like to share some health tips how we can remain head-strong, and focused, during such tempting times as the holiday season. Thanksgiving dinners, company dinner and dances, customer appreciation lunches and many more temptations are standing at our doorsteps waiting to derail us from all our hard work and dedication to our mental performance.
However, for many of us, the year end is also a time of great stress due to closing of the financial year, last minute drives to meet targets, and annual performance reviews are just a few of the pressures we tend to face during the final leg of the year.
It goes without saying that if you want to finish this year on top of your game finding the strength within you to resist temptation and remain focused is going to be crucial.
The field of performance psychology is teaching us that simply visualizing ourselves being successful at remaining Headstrong is not enough, and may actually decrease our success potential. No, your success to end this year on top of your game will be determined by whether or not you have a solid strategy in place in how you are going to manage those temptations.
Here are 5 Tips how best to manage yourself and remain Headstrong throughout the holiday season.
Tip 1: Set a Goal
We’ve all heard it before right? Setting goals helps provide us with a sense of direction. The types of goals you want to be setting can be performance goals, financial goals, or even physical goals, such as body-fat loss, and so on. Whatever the goal is, remember that it will mean nothing to your brain, if your brain doesn’t have buy in from the PRIMAL part of your brain, the Limbic System. In particular, the emotional centers that reside in the Limbic Brain need to get excited over your goal.
The currency that drives your brain are your emotions and what this means is that your goal needs to have an emotional reward attached to it. So, for example, imagine yourself achieving your goal by the end of the holidays and imagine the amount of satisfaction it will give you, or imagine how being successful will inspire your colleagues or loved-ones. With that visualization, try to evoke positive emotions, which will help your PRIMAL brain buy into what you are trying to do.
The greater the emotional attachment to your goal, the more dedicated your PRIMAL brain will be at supporting you to achieve that goal, even when temptations are strong. Without that emotional attachment however, your PRIMAL brain will do what it does best, and that is focus on short term rewards, such as the taste of that pumpkin pie, or another glass of egg-nog, or a third helping of Turkey with stuffing, and will completely derail your attempts to finish the year at your best.
Tip 2: Be Purposeful
Your brain is about to enter a season where it is constantly bombarded by tempting food and alcohol cues. No matter where you’re going to look, or who you’re going to speak with, food and festivities will be at arms length and readily available.
For your brain, this can be an extremely daunting task and there will be many times when your brain questions the validity of your desire to be Headstrong.
One strategy you can employ is Purposefulness and what this means is that you need to practice waking up every morning with your first thought of the day being: “What is my goal today? Am I going to be a Headstrong Performer Today?” If that answer is YES, then your next question should be: “So What Am I Going To Do About It?”
Make a conscious decision every day to be at your best, then when temptation knocks at your door, train yourself to ask yourself this question: “How will giving in to this temptation right now help me achieve my goal?” At that point, conjure up the feelings of satisfaction you imagine you will have when you achieve your goal and play the images over and over in your mind. Then redirect your attention to the temptation and see whether its appeal has decreased. Chances are, it would have. That will then give your brain the strength to simply say: No Thank You!
Tip 3: Be Resourceful
There will be times when you find yourself in a situation where there is nothing else to eat or drink than what is presented to you. Eating high fat, and high sugar foods, combined with alcohol is detrimental for your brain, and once you have a small amount of either, your brain may go into a frenzy and decide to abandon your best intentions to be Headstrong.
By practicing resourcefulness you will be able to better manage such scenarios. Being resourceful can mean that you bring your own non-alcoholic drinks, or even bring a large salad and fruit for desert to the party as your contribution. This way, you can eat the foods you bring to the party first and then nibble on some of the temptations out there. Nibbling on those tempting foods will be easier on a well-nourished stomach than on an empty one. Fill yourself with the good stuff first and give yourself about 20 minutes before making your way to the other foods and drinks. Chances are, you will consume substantially less than you normally would, thus allowing you to remain on task to achieve your goals.
Tip 4: Be Industrious
Being Industrious refers to your ability to put in the work needed to resist temptation and achieve your goals. This could be investing time and energy to prepare your own healthy snacks, or could also be making sure you get your workouts in, even though you may not find yourself in ideal situations to do so.
For example, knowing that you may be consuming more food than you would like this season, consider ramping up your exercise. Go for extra walks during the day, or in the evening. Perhaps spend an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill after you lift weights and so on. Put in the work and it will help you remain centered throughout these tempting times.
Just understand that no amount of exercise will be able to compensate for irresponsible food and drink choices. This strategy will only work for you if you are able to practice purposefulness. Exercising excessively to compensate to the bad food choices you made yesterday may actually cause more harm than good as your body and brain will be teaming with inflammatory proteins that are causing all types of havoc. Excessive exercise may only contribute to that inflammation thus pushing you further away from your potential.
Tip 5: Be Accepting
OK, time to get real here. Chances are, your holiday season is not going to be perfect. There will be times when you come to the conclusion that you either ate too much of the wrong stuff, or drank too much alcohol.
Beating yourself up the next day will not reverse the ill effects of your choices the day before. In fact, judging ourselves for our choices can also evoke a great deal of inflammation in the brain and the body only exacerbating the ill effects of the day before, which is not helpful.
Take solace in understanding that you can still win a war after losing a battle. Accept the fact that what happened and there’s no turning back. Today is a new day and is a great day to get back on your mission to be the best you can be.
At the end of the day, it’s the behavior we repeatedly do that shape who we are. A one-off event is not going to kill your chances to get where you are. Instead, approach that event as a learning opportunity and reflect on what transpired in your brain that made you give in to temptation. With that reflection, try to think up strategies how you could possibly overcome the same temptation when it rolls around next time. Think back to your goal, practice being purposeful and utilize your capacity for resourcefulness to think up a viable strategy. Then, go for a workout and practice some industriousness to get your head back in the game.
By using these 5 strategies you will greatly increase your chances of success through this tempting holiday season.