7 Ways to Minimize Holiday Stress

’Tis the season for self-care
couple having a happy dinner

Contributor: Christine Spiroch, PhD, PA-C, Integrative Medicine Specialist

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The holidays are happy, joyful times for many of us.  For others, however, the November and December holidays cause significant stress. Reasons include:

  • Spending more — or less — time with our families.
  • Gift-giving and receiving.
  • Having more opportunities to be around food.

Lifestyle changes may not go over well

You may also have made recent lifestyle changes. This can strain interactions with family and friends you don’t often see. They may not understand changes in diet, exercise routines or weight. They may not appreciate self-help strategies such as meditation or yoga, or vitamins.

Below are different ways to minimize your stress around the holidays.

Stress-reducing strategies you can try

1. Remember self-care. Caring for yourself will allow you to give more to others. Use aromatherapy. Indulge in fragrant candles (such as lavender) or bubble baths using essential oils. These make great holiday or hostess gifts, too.

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2. Treat yourself. Schedule a massage, Reiki session or acupuncture to relax. Or treat a loved one with a gift card for these services. 

3. Stick to the plan. If you have made dietary changes, stick to them as best you can. Be prepared for questions and challenges from others.

4. Eat before you go to social events. You can also bring a dish, so you know you will have something you can eat there.

5. Go easy on yourself. Realize that you may not be able to stick to new habits to the same extent. That’s OK. Be gentle with yourself. Let that be your holiday gift to yourself.

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6. Eat mindfully. You may have started a program such as Weight Watchers. You may have been counseled about balanced meals and portion control. You may have food allergies. All of these restrict “festive” snacking. Be prepared to deal with holiday eating patterns. At social gatherings, we often eat mindlessly as we talk. Instead, take time to savor the flavors. Also, pay attention to the amounts you eat.

7. Live in the moment. We often head into the holiday season with expectations based on the past. Try to live in the present. Use all of your sources of support. This will help you enjoy the holidays and keep your stress to a minimum.

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