Anna Wootton

How to Celebrate Your Birthday Without the Morning-After Guilt

Photo: Celebrating my birthday with my friends in the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Calgary, AB.

Today is my birthday, so I thought this was a good time to talk to you about morning-after guilt, and how to avoid it.

I’m not talking about the walk of shame (that would be a whole post in and of itself) but more the over-indulgence that tends to accompany any celebration, and the inevitable guilt that follows the next day when you’ve overdone it.

Here’s the thing – there’s a two-pronged approach to this, and both steps are equally important, in my mind.

Step 1: Get rid of the guilt.

This is the most important step and one that applies all year round, not just at celebrations. It’s the first thing I tell my clients. Get rid of the guilt. Before I launched Your Healthy Place health coaching, my blog was called The Guiltless Life and that was my whole message – life is too short to struggle with guilt. It’s a negative emotion that serves little to no purpose. If you feel bad because you’ve hurt someone else, sure, apologize. But all too often the only guilt we experience is aimed at ourselves, and no one benefits from that. If you’ve eaten something you think you ‘shouldn’t’ have, or you’ve had one drink too many or an extra slice of cake, even though you weren’t hungry and didn’t need it, just take a moment, close your eyes and say:

I love myself, my body and my heart. The fact that I just (insert cardinal sin here) does not mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

Then exhale, and let it all go. Shake it off, and move on as if it never happened. Do NOT decide that the whole day is a wash and you will just eat whatever you want and start all over again the next day (for more on this all-or-nothing syndrome click here). That’s guilt talking.

Step 2: Set yourself up for fun, NOT food.

What I mean by this is: Why do you think you’re likely to go nuts and overdo the birthday cake? Why do you think you might have one too many margaritas? Is it because you really want to treat yourself, or is it because you rarely, if ever, let yourself have these treats on a regular basis, so this once-a-year blowout is well deserved?

Here’s the thing – the way to set yourself up to have a great time, without any remorse the day after, is to quit with the restrictions. They don’t serve you. Just have cake any time you feel like it – just try to eat it slowly, mindfully, and enjoy every bite. Have a drink on the weekend if it’s something you’re craving. Sip it, enjoy it, and say goodbye to any restriction-driven binging.

Have your cake and eat it too (and enjoy it) ANY time of the year, and you won’t overdo it on special occasions. Share it!

In the meantime, Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadian residents. I’m off to party!

Fun Work For You to Consider:

  • Do you usually overdo it on special occasions?
  • If so, why? Do you have certain food or drink items that you usually ban from your diet? Consider what it would mean to remove that restriction.