Healthy Holidays: Turn Past Regrets & Guilt into Motivators

I love Fall. My two daughters and I each celebrate our birthdays, the scenery of nature is beautiful, and the air gets cooler. For me, everything starts to feel warm and cozy. It also feels like once we reach this point of the year, time puts the pedal to the metal with the holidays and end-of-year work deadlines.

The holiday season brings up a slew of opposing things; social gatherings, work deadlines, strong emotions, over-drinking, over-spending, over-eating, time-management challenges, family dysfunction or isolation, joy, etc. Many clients of mine fear the holidays. It seems like there is a giant permission slip this time of year to let go of all boundaries, goals, and things that support our health. I’m right there, too! Then we feel guilty, filled with regret, and make hasty new year’s resolutions to “un-do” whatever went wrong during the holidays.

This holiday season, let’s turn past behaviors, guilt, and regret into motivation to do it differently. You can still (or start to) enjoy the holiday season by setting intentions, goals, and boundaries. You’ll feel better and start the new year with resolutions from an even better spot.

Here are some questions to ponder to start thinking…

What are my biggest regrets or sources of guilt during the holidays?

What would an ideal holiday season look like where I felt well?

What is one thing I can commit to making that happen?

Why is that important to me?


Take a few minutes to pull out your notebook to walk yourself through what this might look like for you.


Make a “feel bad” list. I normally focus on what feels good, but first, we have to highlight what doesn’t. Take a minute to think back on the past holiday season and jot down things that don’t make you feel good. Examples may be: over-eating cookies, over-drinking at social events, overbooking my schedule, spending time with people that don’t make me feel good, overworking to meet end-of-year work pressure, isolation and loneliness, getting sick, less exercise, etc.


Envision your ideal holiday season. Without judgment, visualize and write out what you would feel like mentally, physically, and emotionally. What would your schedule look like? Who would you surround yourself with? What tools do you have that make you feel well? What brings you joy? What makes you feel healthy? What would you be doing? How would you act? What would you be feeling?


Brainstorm action items. Using both your regret list and ideal vision, start to write down as many action items ideas to help you prevent regret and create your vision (even if they seem totally outlandish!).

Pick a couple and set SMART goals. Looking at your brainstorm, how many of these seem like musts? Rate them on a “must” level scale. Then choose some of the action items high on the must scale to do over the holiday season. Create SMART goals. What can be accomplished and when? What are goals that can be kept up each week? The critical key is that they are all realistic and attainable. Success is the goal. This means limiting your action and goal list to a MAX of 3-5. Many will have one.


Accountability & Support. Now that you’ve set these goals and intentions, follow-through requires action. What and who will you use to hold yourself accountable? How will you track your progress? Who can you connect with if challenges come up? Set up these systems now.


Be curious & learn. As you implement the plan over the holidays, know that there is always room to learn. Create space to check in with yourself. How are you doing? What can be celebrated? What can be adjusted? How am I feeling? What challenges come up? What seems easier than I thought?

Guess what?! You don’t have to do it alone. Join my Healthy Holidays Group so we’re all in it together!

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