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In partnership with The Fresh Toast

The holiday season is a stressful time, resulting in overeating and skipped workout sessions. Here’s what you can do to erase the guilt and build some peace of mind.

Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season, when Christmas decorations pop up overnight and the countdown to New Year’s begins. It’s also the season where eating, drinking and huddling up for the winter becomes the focus. As we grow older, the holiday season takes on a tint of stress that’s difficult to shake.

For many of us, it’s hard to feel like our healthiest and happiest self, especially for those who have complicated relationships with food. The holiday season exposes us to many of our favorite meals and treats, all in the span of a month. It’s very common for people to gain some weight and to forego some of their workouts and health routines. Still, no matter how much prep you do before hand, it’s tough to control the guilt that this results in.

Here are some tips that can help you feel better in the coming weeks:

Listen to your body

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The holidays can stir up a lot of emotions in your life. You can feel excited, happy, anxious and melancholic, all at the same time. These emotions can also spark your appetite, resulting in eating when you’re not hungry, or stress eating, which many of us are participating in right now. Pay attention to how your body feels and give it what it wants, whether that’s food, rest or movement. It’s difficult to be in tune with your body, but the more you try, the easier it becomes.

Don’t “reward” yourself with food 

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A comment we often hear throughout our lives is that you should get a good workout in after indulging in a dessert or a meal you’ve looked forward to, burning off all of those calories. While some people feel rewarded by this behavior, working out shouldn’t be associated with some form of punishment or as a way of ridding your body of calories. Or worse yet, something you do to “allow” yourself to eat. You never have to “earn” a meal.

This way of thinking creates a negative relationship with food, one that can transform into disorders and that can cause tons of stress and unhappiness. If you overeat, try your best to forgive yourself. Keep a somewhat regular workout schedule through the holidays, accepting that some weeks will be better than others. If you don’t have time to include a vigorous workout, a light stretch or a yoga session will help you feel better and will ease your anxiety.

Associate workouts with pleasure and feeling good

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A lot of people work out because they want to look good. While this provides results and encourages healthy lifestyles, it doesn’t work for everyone. A more positive and accurate approach to fitness would be to see movement and exercise as a complement to a healthy lifestyle, one that works best when supported by healthy eating and a positive relationship with food. At the end of the day, food should be enjoyed since it makes living possible. On significant dates, it should be indulged in and shared with others.

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