The holiday season often brings joy and cheer, but it can also bring a lot of stress. We are often over scheduled, over stimulated, over stuffed, and under budgeted from Halloween until New Year’s. This combination is bound to create some stressful times, which can make us feel lousy and increase the chances of getting sick. Let’s look at some tips for stress reduction to be able to enjoy the holiday season.
- Need to bake cookies for a cookie swap? It’s ok to buy a boxed mix if it will save you time, energy, and your sanity.
- Create a timeline to help you get organized.
- Take time for yourself. Drink your coffee quietly, go for a walk, or do something that you enjoy.
- If you have an exercise routine, try to stick to it as much as possible during the holidays.
- Take ten minutes every day to just sit and breathe, trying to focus and relax. Try guided meditation, there are a lot of audio/videos available online.
- Have realistic expectations regarding your schedule, budget, and relationships.
- If everyone is feeling stressed, the chances of arguing are high.
- Don’t stretch yourself too thin.
- Holidays can bring up unpleasant memories or feelings. Acknowledge and accept them, and then work through them.
- If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, drink responsibly.
- Get plenty of rest. We all know that we feel worse when we don’t get enough sleep. Make rest a priority.
- Just say no:
- If you’re too busy.
- If you don’t want to do it. Only do the things that will bring you happiness.
- Don’t feel obligated to do anything, especially if it is not good for your mental health. If your family traditions are stressful, consider trying new ones or changing things to make them more enjoyable.
- Create a budget for holiday spending and stick to it.
- Instead of spending a lot of money on things no one really needs, or that will collect dust in a closet, spend money on experiences instead. Buy tickets to go do things with people you care about to make memories.
- If you have a large family, try doing a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for everyone.
- Limit the number of gifts per person.
- Give homemade gifts.
Eating & Nutrition
- Eat regularly! Plan your meals ahead of time and eat normally to avoid overeating. Don’t skip or restrict meals.
- Have a healthy, satisfying snack before parties.
- If you are offered food you don’t want, say “No, thank you.” Feeling pressure to eat at parties is difficult. Only eat something if you want to.
- Feeling stressed and like you want to eat? Take a deep breath and focus on the emotion that you’re feeling. Dealing with the actual emotion (even though it may be unpleasant) is the only way to avoid eating in response to emotion.
- Finding another activity instead of eating can also work. Try going for a walk, reading, doing a puzzle, yoga/stretching, etc.
- Don’t get on a scale. If you’re already feeling guilty about your eating habits, getting on the scale is only going to fuel the fire. Just don’t do it.
- Eat mindfully. Enjoy things that you like. Don’t make any foods off-limits.
- If you want to indulge over the holidays, do so without feeling guilty. Accept that your body may change, and also have the wisdom to know that it will probably change back when the holidays are over.
- Avoid diet, weight loss, and fat talk.
- Limit negative self talk about your body and yourself. Use positive self talk and affirmations. More information on that here.
- If people comment on weight or eating habits, remind yourself that you are fine exactly how you are. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Here are some responses you can use:
- “Actually, I choose not to make my body size a topic of conversation. How’s your business going?”
- “I prefer not to talk about calories and weight while enjoying a delicious meal. Let’s talk about what we’re thankful for this year.”
Enjoy your holiday season!
North Country Nutrition & Wellness