How To Stay Vaguely Healthy During The Party Season

You’ve managed to survive an entire year of workplace birthdays (mandatory cake) and the champagne celebrations every time someone gets engaged, married, gets a job, quits a job and so on.

But now it’s officially Party Season and you’re being bombarded with drinks, appetisers, lunches, dinners and all the well-meant gifts from colleagues and strangers alike, which are quite often of the chocolate variety.

Don’t fret – believe it or not, you can learn how to take part in all the parties and events without sacrificing your health, fitness and sanity.

#1 Count your drinks

When someone is topping up your glass, or kindly offering to replace your drink, it’s easy to lose track of exactly how much you’re consuming. Don’t.

There are numerous smart phone apps that allow you to track your drinks and to set a limit. You can also sync it with friends so that you can keep each other on track. Try IntelliDrink (99c on iTunes).

Set a limit before you even get to the party and ask a reliable friend/partner to keep you accountable.

#2 Stick to a fitness regimen

You don’t need to turn down all the lunch invites so that you can go the gym instead. Rather, be realistic. Set a 3 hour minimum weekly plan and have the gym timetable on your phone calendar.

Every week, check in with your schedule and highlight as many times as you can that you can make yoga, pilates, cycle, dance or fit in a 30 minute weights session.

#3 Have a daily routine

Vowing to start meditating right now, and every day from here on, is setting yourself up for failure. Don’t commit to something you feel is a chore; rather, find a daily ritual you can feel grounded in and actually enjoy.

I always remember at the height of stress and feeling lost, asking my beloved yoga teacher what I could do to feel better (Do I need to headstand every morning, chant a mantra 108 times, I asked…) and she said, “Make your bed, every morning. Stand on the earth with bare feet. Get into nature.” That’s all.

Small routines that remind you that you have a system can be very calming. Maybe you download an audiobook from your library or online and listen to it on your daily commute or right before bed. Maybe you write in a journal right before you go to bed or first thing upon waking.

#4 Set a post Christmas/post New Years goal

Not something as ugly and self-punishing as losing 5kg! Let’s save that for all the glossy women’s magazines to push.

Why not sign yourself and a few friends or family up to a Fun Run next year. It’s called a “Fun” Run because you can walk it, jog it, or roll it in a wheelchair in most cases. You don’t need to be an athlete, but weeks of hangovers and eating out every day obviously won’t leave you in any condition to do much of anything.

If you know you have an event to look forward to and stay fit for, along with the accountability of a group of people who’ll be in it with you, that’s enough of an excuse to turn down the 5th canapé. Look up Running Calendar Australia for events in the new year.

#5 Buy activewear

I think we’ve all seen, laughed, and cringed in recognition at the “Buying activewear in my activewear” video.

But, for real, this is my tried and true formula for getting myself inspired to go and workout.

If it’s not a new pair of sneakers or yoga pants, maybe gadgets like earbuds or even making a killer playlist for your run get you pumped to stay active. Often it’s the rituals that you do to prepare for a workout or an event that dictate how much you enjoy it. May I suggest some old-school Missy Elliott or even some Marilyn Manson if you’re so inclined?

#6 Unfollow

There’s going to be endless party shots, happy family snaps, whole workplaces posing with Santa… it’s going to be a lot to handle if you’re not full of the Christmas spirit.

Do your mental health a favour and unfollow accounts that are exhausting, and block accounts that keep trying to sell you 12 bottles of wine or dating site ads that promise to match you with the perfect partner “for Christmas”.

#7 Speak to your GP or counsellor

When it comes to the end of the year, it can be a time of reflection, analysis and self-auditing. This can be a good thing, but it can also lead to a sense of not having achieved enough, worked hard enough, been a good enough friend/partner/son/daughter. Don’t let it weigh on you – make an appointment with your GP for a general health check-in and ask for a referral to a counsellor or psychologist.

Remember: party season will be over soon.

Cat Woods is a writer, editor and blogger in Melbourne. She is also a yoga, barre and pilates instructor with a passion for fitness, lipstick, ’90s electroclash and yoga pants.