See our fireside chat featuring our tips for Holiday Hurdles!
OK – let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Most holiday hurdles that we (i.e. Westerners in developed countries who read running blogs) face are small potatoes. Of course there are true holiday challenges, but a lot of what we all experience are “first-world problems.”
At least for me though, knowing that something is a first-world problem doesn’t make it just go away. It helps with perspective, but I still get annoyed by the stress of holiday prep, travel, the endless Christmas music starting in September (damn you Michael Bublé and your honey-sweet voice and Canadian charm. Damn you!), and so on.
OMG Tim, you’re so right. I have all these holiday hurdles and I need help overcoming them. What can I do?
You are too nice! OK, but seriously, we’re here to help. Over digital cocktails with our friends at AfterShokz (AKA Skypey Hour), we came up with a few pointers on how to make your holidays a bit merrier. Here they are, mostly in order of operation (depending on your situation).
One of the biggest challenges to shopping – assuming you know exactly what everyone on your list wants (unlikely) – is finding the time. Add the crowds and everything you’re doing IRL takes longer. Obviously whatever you can do to shop online and have things shipped to your holiday destination is a huge time-saver.
But if you’re a top-notch procrastinator like this writer, and you find yourself amongst the throngs battling it out for LOL Surprise Dolls or Hatchimals (😳), the way to make it feel like less of a time suck is by multi-tasking.
Listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and/or music are all excellent ways to avoid feeling like you’ve wasted time when standing in line or stuck in a parking lot. Most of my nerdy news shows (love you, Fareed!) also have podcast or audio versions, so I can catch up there too.
We’ve talked about AfterShokz countless times on The BibRave Podcast and #BibChat, but for something like moving through crowds, standing in lines, and juggling presents, you definitely want bluetooth, open-ear headphones. Power on, listen, pause, make/take calls, and easily drop them around your neck if you’re forced to speak to someone (😱).
Travel for me is stressful because of two reasons. OK, there are like ten, but here are my top two reasons. First, I’m someone who tries to eat well but is also very weak. Second, I for sure (probably) have misophonia, which is basically a made-up disease characterized by a hatred of sound. Not all sound, I’m not crazy, just any sound that another person or animal makes. See? Totally normal.
On the food front, Julia on Team BibRave is great about planning for and packing healthy snacks. That really is the only way to get past airport food.
For a while I conned myself into thinking that bad airport food was just a cost thing, and that if I spent a few extra bucks I could just get something healthy. While there are exceptions, most “nutritious” options at airports are total scams. Salad? Odds are it’s iceberg lettuce with all-sugar dressing and nothing. And it’s $15. Fruit? Airport fruit is why people don’t like fruit. In-flight meals? Usually bread sandwiches (that’s bread with sauce and nothing) and a brownie.
So – pack snacks. I like almonds, cheese sticks, a real apple, various bars, boiled eggs, and I’ve even packed rotisserie chicken (nothing fancy here, just bought packaged rotisserie chicken and surrounded it with other cold stuff). Whatever you go with, find foods that work, plan ‘em, and pack ‘em.
On the sound front, I rarely leave the house without earplugs. I usually throw my AfterShokz around my neck and have earplugs in my pocket. That way I can get on the plane, begin listening to a podcast or my favorite white noise app (Noisli), and throw in the earplugs to drown out crying babies or people chewing gum or basically any other human noises 😉.
Cleaning, Preparing, Organizing
OK, hopefully by now you’re at your holiday destination (or maybe you’re hosting so you got to skip the travel piece – nice). Now comes the cleaning, meal prep, wrapping, and getting everything set up.
If you’re working with family members, be nice, be patient, and enjoy your time catching up. Try to ignore your phone (airplane mode = freedom, because then you don’t have the urge to check for notifications or messages because you know there’s nothing there), only watch TV if it’s a group watch, and learn more about family you haven’t connected with in a while (maybe even play some games!).
If you’re doing a lot of holiday prep solo, see the above section about multi-tasking and how to consume content while wrapping, chopping, cleaning, table-scaping, or whatever holiday prep you have.
AfterShokz Pro Tip: When I’m into a task and need to make myself a note or reminder, I just hold the AfterShokz multi-function button down to call up Siri. I then say, “Send me a text message that says, ‘Try the Nike Training Club App’,” and she sends it away. Then I’ll have a digital note waiting for myself whenever I’m done with my task.
Ah, working out while traveling – potentially eye-opening and stimulating, as well as awful and inconvenient. For me, the keys to hitting the former and avoiding the latter are to be prepared and stay entertained.
I travel from the West Coast to the Midwest for the holidays, so I basically have a separate bag for all my cold weather running gear. If I see temps in the teens or 20s and I don’t have all my cold weather gear, my odds of running are 0. No odds.
If it’s the holidays, I’ve probably been up too late and drinking too much whiskey to be motivated, so podcasts on the run are critical to getting me out the door and into the cold. Plus, if I’m in a strange area or running to a new location, I’ll often get turn by turn directions from Google maps, which pauses my podcast and pipes directions right into my headphones. The fewer decisions you have to make when trying to get out the door, the better. Let the robots do it for you 🤖.
Even though the holiday season is all about peace, joy, and love, all that serenity can be stressful. The aforementioned travel, staying in other people’s homes or hotels, existing or soon-to-be-revealed family drama, crowds, f-ing Michael Bublé – it all adds up.
Part of what stresses me out about any kind of travel is the feeling of falling behind, whether that’s in work or fitness or nutrition. I use the Nike Training Club app to get strength, mobility, and flexibility work in when on the road. If you haven’t used this app before, definitely give it a shot. It’s free, very easy to navigate, and provides a ton of guided workouts from yoga and bodyweight exercises to specific weight-lifting programs. Again, wireless headphones are really nice here because you can listen to the guided programs as you move through the workout.
Another tactic to combat stress is meditation. Everyone loves Headspace, but frankly I find that guy’s voice a bit irritating which is sort of the opposite of what meditation is supposed to accomplish. I do like the app Calm, but they pretty much do the same thing so it’s really a matter of personal preference. Both apps are great for getting yourself into a place where you focus on something other than the stress of your day, deadlines, or family drama.
And lastly, if none of the above helps with the stress, I recommend booze. It’s baked into the holiday scene so getting a buzz started at the airport and continuing it until you’re back at the airport isn’t weird – it’s FESTIVE! I’m lucky enough to get along really well with my immediate and extended family, but I know that’s not always the case. I know a lot of people with social and/or familial anxiety that use an extra glass of wine or whiskey to relax just a bit more. If all else fails, might as well try the sauce.
OK, you ready? Feeling prepared for the holidays? Have anything to add or ways that you’ve conquered the first-world stress of the holidays? Bourbon recommendations? Please share below!