The holidays, a time of celebration and joy, are often filled with stress leading up to the actual holiday. The business of rushing around hunting for the perfect gift, attending yet another party, standing in long lines, kids overly tired, and parents running on fumes, all adding to the sugar highs and lows when indulging in holiday treats, are abundantly available.
As 2020 comes to an end and traditional holiday gatherings are discouraged, things look very different for most of us this year without the holiday parties and family gatherings, creating additional stress of a different magnitude.
However, it doesn’t stop us from gathering the immediate household members around the table for a traditional holiday meal or the baked goods associated with it throughout the weeks leading up to the holidays.
I know I love a traditional holiday meal and always look forward to my mother’s Chocolate Pies, Pumpkin Roles, and any cookies she usually bakes. If I’m not mindful of what I’m consuming, I’m overstuffing myself, bloated, and dealing with the highs and lows of sugar consumption before I know it.
With some helpful tips, you can minimize the holiday blues and stressors that often present themselves this time of year. Perfect isn’t the goal here! If we strive for perfection during the holidays or at any other time, we will fall short. So, if you miss a workout or two, give yourself a little grace and get back on track as soon as you can. If you eat a bit too much at one meal, get back on track with the rest of the day and week.
14 Practical tips for managing holiday stress
Set aside some time to review the tips below and pick the information that will work best for you and your family. Who knows, you may end up having the best holiday you’ve had in a while.
Exercise – Keep an exercise routine. If you stop exercising altogether, deconditioning starts to occur in as little as two weeks. Once lost, it can take nearly three times as long to recondition. Please don’t stop and consider this; what we do or don’t do leading up to the holidays also makes a big difference. Get right back to the exercise routine as soon as possible, and you’ll be glad you did. The KEY is to keep MOVING. If you don’t have an exercise routine, take a 10-minute walk, and see if that doesn’t minimize any stress you may be dealing with.
Healthy Traditions – start a new holiday tradition. Go for a walk after dinner or before. Play a game outside with the kids, head to the snow, and have a snow day. Set a time for play!
Mindful Eating – snack wisely, pay attention to portion sizes, balance your meals with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins, and keep the fiber coming.
Hydrate – Drink plenty of H2O to keep yourself hydrated. A full glass of water 30-minutes before meals aids digestion.
Healthy habits – If you already maintain healthy habits, keep it up.
Sugar – Read labels. There are over 56 hidden sugars in processed and packaged foods. (If you’d like my Guide to Hidden Sugars, email me here, and I’ll send it to your email). Adding additional sugars to already sugary foods, such as cereals, will add up to pounds gained, so avoid adding sugar to sugar. Eat smaller portions of holiday goodies without guilt and get back on track as soon as you can.
Sleep – Sleep is such an essential part of staying healthy. It aids in weight loss, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and keeps our immune system healthier. In 2015, the Endocrine Society presented a study that suggested losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and affect blood sugar. So, early to bed for a good night’s sleep.
Time for yourself – We all need a little downtime and time to ourselves. Be sure to give yourself what you need. Read a book, take a hot bath, take a walk, listen to some music, meditate, or whatever else makes you feel good. Just 15 minutes can make a big difference.
Meditation – Silencing the mind is a benefit we could all use, as it nourishes the body, heart, and soul. The constant mind chatter throughout the day can become overwhelming at times. Shut it off by sitting quietly. Focus on your breathing. As thoughts come in, notice them with no judgment. With practice, you’ll be able to get 10-minutes or more of meditation without the mind chatter.
Plan Ahead – Planning can make all the difference in the world in reducing stress. Pick specific days for shopping, baking, wrapping, holiday decorating, etc. You’ll be glad you did.
Feelings – Acknowledge them! Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that you have to paste on a smiley face. If 2020 has been the year from hell for you and your loved ones, acknowledge it. Don’t stuff the feelings.
Set aside differences – We’ve all got opinions about life, Covid, and more things than I care to list here. You get the point. Enjoy the people around you for who they are and not who you want them to be. I’m betting they, too, are feeling the stress of the holidays and the events of this year.
Make your new year plans – Planning for the New Year will help you set yourself up for success for the coming year. Create a vision board, write out a list of goals, get specific about what you want and how you are going to achieve the goals.
Cleanse – Leave the cleanse until after the New Year.
Much Love, Vonie