Here in the United States, this coming Thursday, the 4th of July, is one of our biggest holidays. It marks the day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was signed, shortly after the first thirteen colonies in what would become the United States became independent from Britain.
If you have the day off work, the holiday can be filled with friends, family, fun, and celebration. It might also bring anxiety over relationships (family? strangers?), over food (that feeling of being stuffed or guilt over eating too much?), and could leave you feeling awful the next day (too much sun, unhealthy food, hungover, lack of sleep?). Here are a few tips that may help you keep it to the fun with family and friends and to avoid the negative.
- Move. Plan to be active throughout the day. Is it a nice day for you and the family to go for a bike ride? Walk a couple of miles to watch a parade? Or just enjoy a nice walk in your area? If you can’t fit in a longer walk or ride – where can you fit in shorter walks? If you are at a party – leave for 10 minutes and return more refreshed, or take someone with you who you want to catch up with. They will probably be happy that you asked. If you workout regularly, you might also feel better if you get up in time to fit a quick workout in before the rest of the day begins.
- Set an intention. If there is a big meal involved in your day, make an intention beforehand. Will you try all that you want to try? Will you just take tastes and go back if something is really good? Will you choose just one or two things to enjoy along with lots of vegetables? If you are going to drink alcohol – how much? If not, consider bringing a fancy sparkling water or other nice drink to enjoy.
- Plan & Prepare. If you are going to a potluck, bring a healthy dish so that you know you can get full on that if you don’t want to eat anything else. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite salads. It is likely to be a big hit, so you might want to make double.
- Choose nature’s sweets. Choose fresh fruit over store-bought desserts. What says summer better than red, juicy, watermelon?
- Taste. Take the time to taste (and chew) your food. It is easy in a social setting to grab food and devour without really noticing. Even if you are in a conversation, remember to take a minute and enjoy what you are eating.
- Relationships – family. If you know you will see a family member who makes your inner self want to scream, plan before you see them how you will react. You cannot control them, but you can control your reaction to them.
- Relationships – strangers. Perhaps you are going to a gathering and there will be people you don’t know. If you are not one who thrives on talking with strangers, think of three questions you will ask people before you go. Then, once you get there, aim to engage at least two people in conversation. Ask them questions about themselves, focus on just talking with them until the time is right to leave, and truly get interested. Your questions could be basic (So, how do you know [the host]?). Or, choose some of these juicier questions to get the conversation started.
- Most Important. Have fun and enjoy your holiday however you decide to spend it. If you set an intention and your day doesn’t quite go how you had planned, let it go. Tomorrow you may choose to think about why that happened, but holding onto guilt over it will get you nowhere.