Indulgences surround us during the holidays. For many, the holidays are synonymous with celebration. For others, this festive time can evoke painful memories and/or increased stress. Joyful, sad, or anxious feelings can spawn indulgent behaviors in how we eat, drink, or use our time and resources. The question is: are all indulgences inherently detrimental in a Holiday Wellness Plan? The answer is found in the reason(s) behind the indulgence and how it’s managed.
Thus far in our Holiday Wellness Plan, we inventoried our Habits, discussed time management for when life Overflows, and how to Listen to God, others, and our own bodies. But what about when we simply want to indulge over the holidays? I is for Indulge.
Being well can include an occasional indulgence. We may feel we can afford an indulgence if we attend to our wellness the rest of the year. The difference between a wise indulgence and what leads to regret usually depends on why we indulge. If it’s to celebrate thankfulness and honoring Jesus’ birth in moderation, then it may be acceptable. If we indulge to excess or to numb painful memories or stress, then maybe not.
Just like habits, indulgences often have triggers prompting a desire to splurge. It could be seasonal feelings of good will and joy. Other times the trigger is a negative emotion, holiday memory or stressful situation. Pay close attention to the split seconds when triggers arise to make wiser holiday decisions.
In our trigger moments, there’s often a voice inside us either encouraging or discouraging our actions. It’s the devil and angel on each shoulder analogy. Which voice we listen to is key.
Negative self-talk is detrimental to any kind of wellness. If we always see ourselves negatively, we perpetuate negative self-talk leading to unhealthy indulgences and regret. “I’ll never lose the weight so another piece of pie won’t matter.” “The budget’s already blown, what’s one more gift?”
But realistic, affirming self-talk can be encouraging and promote healthy choices. “I’ve exercised and said no to rich appetizers so I can have a small slice of pie.” “Love and gratitude can be expressed without breaking the budget.” Choosing the positive, life-affirming voice impacts not only how we act during the holidays but also diminshes disappointments after them.
We cannot eliminate our January regrets if we don’t change our December indulgences.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. ~2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
When we seek God in His Word and through prayer, He will provide self-talk to guide us in a positive direction. Let’s remember Jesus’ words:
“If you love me, obey my commandments.” ~John 14:15 NLT
If our indulgence motives stem from anything outside of what God commands as good and pleasing to Him, then maybe it’s an indulgence we cannot afford.
Here are a few tips on how to pay attention to our holiday indulges:
- Honestly assess holiday indulgences and the motives behind them. What do we wish to change or need to abstain from altogether?
- What steps can we take now to limit exposure to our indulgences? Maybe it’s setting up a budget or only using cash this season. How can we come in less contact with food or drink indulgences that tempt us? Explore responsibility systems like calorie counts or an accountability partner. Plan now for how to limit time spent on things which don’t correlate with priorities this season.
- What affirming self-talk can we give ourselves in moments of weakness to stay on course? How can we diligently seek God’s will now, to change our self-talk when indulgence triggers arise? Memorize motivational Bible verses and songs to help find His voice among the noise of the holidays.
Temptations to indulge envelop us throughout the holidays. Understanding our own unique indulgences, reasons, and triggers is the first step toward wellness this holiday season. Listening to the wisdom found in God’s Word and seeking His will is the next. Lastly or when in doubt, just say no. Let’s pray and seek God’s direction and power to choose healthy behaviors to honor the reason for the season, ourselves, and God this holiday season.