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How to Reduce Holiday Stress

How to Reduce Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be a wonderful and beautiful time of year! However, it can also become a very stressful and busy season for some, and for others more delicate time due to seasonal depression or grief.

While many of these emotions are challenging to escape, here are a few helpful tips that may help you minimize some of the stressors that the holiday season may bring.

Plan Ahead and Stay Organized

If you find yourself constantly in a time crunch this time of year, I would suggest actually making the commitment to write your to-do-lists and schedule times for holiday shopping and running errands. This will help minimize the last minute dash to the store, or forgetting what you hoped to get someone for the holidays before it became impossible to find.

Staying organized helps you feel a bit more in control of your time, and less frazzled during the week. If you are buying gifts this year for your family or friends, give yourself an early deadline!

Learn to say, “No”

While this is likely not possible the majority of the time, it is very important to set realistic expectations for what you are able to accomplish. Realizing that you can’t help everyone and that it is impossible to be in 2 places at once without sacrificing your own sanity is key. 

This year, prioritize what is important to you and your family! If you have children, find out their expectations or hopes for the holiday season in regards to family time. Also acknowledge how you want to spend your holiday. It is a season of giving, but this should not come at the cost of your health and sanity.

It might be helpful to create a limit to how many holiday parties you attend, dinners you host, or family members you allow to stay at your home. Finding that balance is important in allowing you to enjoy this holiday season as well.

Take Care of Yourself 

Begin to prioritize stress reducing activities like incorporating exercise, reading a book, taking a warm bath, watching your favorite movie at the end of the night or getting to bed earlier. Focusing on your own self care will help you be a better friend, roommate, family member, parent, caregiver, coworker.

Create a Holiday Budget

Creating a budget for holiday meals and gifts will help ease the worry of over  buying or spending too much money on gifts. This may help guide the type of gifts you purchase and give you the opportunity to evaluate if you are hosting a dinner party or a potluck where everyone contributes to help ease the financial burden.

When money is tight, try to focus on holiday experiences for the family rather than gifts. Try to plan an evening of walking down a popular street at night that is full of Christmas lights! Maybe bring some hot chocolate as a little treat for the family.

It can also be fun to make homemade holiday decorations, spend time together as a family watching your favorite movie, rake the leaves into a pile for the kids to jump in, or celebrate a family meal as a potluck for everyone to bring 1 plate to share. 

Practice Mindfulness Around Meals

The holidays can be a very challenging time of year for great reasons and for sad reasons. These stressors or memories of loved ones that have passed can be a trigger for emotional eating. It is easy to seek food for comfort during times of stress. But I want to challenge you to seek healthier ways for coping with your stress or grief. 

For example, if you are stressed, try going for a brisk walk, meditate,journal your emotions, listen to calming music, step outside to remove yourself from the stressful situation, or call a friend. These are just a few examples of ways to manage stress other than with food.

Additionally, a great starting point is to simply ask yourself the question, “How am I feeling?” before any meal or snack. If the answer is anything other than hunger, find a solution to that emotion. 

Unintended weight gain during the holidays affects many, do your best to keep your personal goals in mind!

Remember to Laugh and Have Fun!

Try your best to enjoy the holiday season and to avoid getting swept away in all the hustle and bustle. This can be a challenge, but try to remember that spending time with your close family and making memories is the most important. 

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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