5 Tips to Ensure a Healthy and Stress-Free Holiday Season

Practical ways to minimize worry and embrace joy during the holidays.

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- Posted on Dec 6, 2018

Family around Christmas tree

The holidays are a time full of family, friends, celebrations and delicious food. Unfortunately, the most wonderful time of the year can also lead to stress and unhealthy habits that make experiencing the joy of the holiday season difficult.

One survey found that 62 percent of participants experienced elevated stress during the holiday season. Some common causes of stress noted on the survey were busy schedules, money and physical health.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling stressed this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to have a happier, healthier holiday. Here are a few practical ways to do just that:

1. Take time for yourself

Parties, gift buying and family visits should be fun-filled, but cramming too many activities into an already busy schedule can lead to exhaustion and crankiness—the opposite of how it should feel to spend time with loved ones.

Get ahead of your stress by scheduling alone time each day. Even if it’s just waking up fifteen minutes early to drink a cup of morning coffee in silence, making time for a few minutes of solitude will leave you feeling recharged, rested and ready for your holiday activities.

2. Move your body

A study from the American Psychological Association found that people spend more time engaged in sedentary activities during the holidays—sometimes watching TV or eating to cope with the holiday stress. This is actually counterproductive since it’s well known that

exercise is one of the best ways to relieve anxiety. Even just thirty minutes of movement can trigger your brain to release feel-good hormones. Plus, movement can be an opportunity to bring family and friends together. Try going for a walk after a holiday meal or playing a family game of football.

3. Prioritize

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with parties, family gatherings and gift exchanges. Sometimes, all of the festivities can seem like a chore instead of an opportunity to spend time with those who mean the most to us.

Prioritize the activities that are important to you. It’s okay not to make it to every white elephant party or skip the annual Christmas play. Choose the holiday traditions that mean the most to you and commit to enjoying them fully, rather than spreading yourself thin and missing out on the magic of the holiday season.

4. Plan ahead

Make a list of gifts you need to purchase. Purchase ingredients for holiday meals and cook ahead of time when possible. If you’re committed to eating a particular diet, this can also apply to attending holiday parties. Think about what you will eat and how much. If you start preparing for the holidays early, you’ll be able to navigate stressful situations with ease.

5. Savor the moment

The most important thing you can do to enjoy a healthy holidays is to enjoy the blessings in your life. Stress robs us of gratitude and presents us from being present. Take a minute to breathe, notice holiday decor and smells and send a prayer of thanks for the people and blessings in your life.

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