Your Essential Holiday Survival Guide

A round-up of our best holiday advice

The holidays are a season that can fill you with joy — and fill you with stress. (Can we get a “ho ho ho”?) Maybe it’s like the balance of yin and yang in our search for holiday zen.

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Truly, there’s the joy of sharing with family and friends. Then, there’s running around, shopping, and cooking. And sometimes, there’s also the sadness of missing someone who won’t be at our dinner table, though we’ll save a place for them anyway.

In the spirit of highs and lows, we bring you this holiday survival guide. It features the best stuff we can offer about this time of year (with a sprinkle of feel-good hormones). Also, it gives you some practical advice to stay healthy in this germ-filled world.

Fight the Inside-Outside Effect

Young woman blowing nose in winter outdoors

With holiday parties, shopping and family get-togethers, the last thing we want is to get sick. Yet many of us do fall ill during the holiday season. Why? Family medicine physician Neha Vyas, MD says for those of us living in cold climates, we are inside most of the time breathing the same air, which exposes us to more germs. We’re also socializing much more. To fight back, try this simple advice.

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Don’t Let Your Heart Get Off-Beat

Company of friends gathering together to celebrate great event

Too much food, sweets, and alcohol can do more damage to your body than wrecking a diet, says cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD. It can lead to holiday heart syndrome. Holiday heart syndrome is when overeating and overindulging in alcohol leads to an irregular heartbeat. Learn how you can avoid it.

Pine and Cinnamon Spice Might Not Smell So Nice

christmas decoration of yellow tea light and pine cone.

Ah, who doesn’t love the smell of a cinnamon- or pine-scented candle? Or a freshly cut tree? Um, not everyone. For some people, those well-known aromas present a serious health risk. Decorations that fill your home with holiday scents can jump-start nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose. They can be especially dangerous if you have asthma, says pulmonologist Katina Nicolacakis, MDAvoid an attack.

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Get Your Bargain Hunting On


As promised, there’s some uplifting things on this list. Of course, there’s finding a great bargain, and what this does to your brain. Apparently, this is a kind of brain candy or what psychologists call intermittent reinforcement. Psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD, says it encourages you to keep trying until you get what you want — like a designer purse at a great price. Why finding a bargain makes your brain happy.

What This Season Is Really About

Hands holding one another on a table in prayer
We all know giving helps others, but what does it to for the giver? Lots of studies find that giving has profound impact on your body and mind says psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD. Find out what researchers discovered while looking at brain scans of subjects who gave to various charities. It will truly make you feel zen. See your brain on a ‘helper’s high’

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