Reduce Holiday Stress

— Written By and last updated by Patricia Burch
en Español

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We like to think that the holidays bring joy to our households, but what it typically brings is a lot of stress. From planning to decorating to buying that perfect gift, many of us find that we are on edge for most of the holiday season. Here are some tips that can help you reduce that stress and even avoid the extra pounds that come with the holidays.

First and foremost is trying to put our bodies in a state of relaxation. There are several techniques you can do to help yourself relax, not just during the holidays but any time! To help yourself relax, spend some time during the day to meditate. I know it sounds crazy to spend five minutes in total silence, but you can find five minutes when you’re parked in the car (try it before you shop), when you get up in the morning, or while you’re in the shower. It’s easy. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on a positive thought or phrase. That’s it! You will be surprised at how the anxiety slips away. Another tip is to breathe deeply. You can actually do this together with your meditation. Focus on your breathing for 5 to 10 minutes. Take deep breaths. This counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. You can also reduce stress by decompressing after a long day. Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, massage away tension. Try walking away those worries. The rhythm and repetition of walking (or any other form of exercise) has a soothing effect on your brain, improves circulation and can help improve sleep. Aim for a fast paced, at least 30 minute walk every day. This will also help you reduce those pounds that can easily pack on during the holidays. Lastly, remember to be grateful. Keep a gratitude journal to help you remember all the things that are good in your life. Being grateful for your blessings can help to cancel out negative thoughts and worries. Write a few things you are grateful for down on a piece of paper, and tape it to your mirror, your computer, or anywhere that you will see it every day. Remember to take a moment to read it and just be thankful.

I’m sure many can agree that the holidays bring on a few pounds every year. Here are a few tips to help avoid that holiday weight gain.

  1. Stick to your regular routine with adequate sleep and exercise.
  2. Watch your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water. Choose water over other beverages. This would be a great time of year to try to increase your water intake and avoid sodas and teas. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel, you look, and may even lose some pounds by just changing your beverage choice.
  3. Never go to a party hungry. Eat a small, heathy meal before party time.
  4. Try not to stand by the food at the party. I know this is a great spot to linger, but the closer you are to the food, the easier it is to involuntarily eat. If you find yourself hungry at the party, reach for the vegetables, fruit or other low calorie options.
  5. Eat slowly and put your fork down in between bites. This will help you to not overeat and give your stomach a chance to tell your mind it’s full.
  6. Set goals and keep a food diary. A food diary will help you keep control over how much and what you are eating during the day. They even have apps that you can log in your meals right from your phone. My personal favorite in MyFitnessPal which is free.

I hope these tips help you to refocus on what the holidays are really about. Many times we worry so much about getting the perfect gift or making the perfect meal. A lot of the time it’s not about what you’re doing or what you get for the holidays, it’s who you’re with that counts.