Most of us look forward to the holiday season, but we also find ourselves more stressed than usual. Piled onto our normal obligations are holiday events, parties, decorating, shopping, baking and preparing special meals. It can feel overwhelming and make the season less about joy and more about “getting through it.”
Here are 6 tips that will help you get more enjoyment and less stress this holiday season!
- Eat real food. Processed foods are stress food. They contain refined sugar and simple carbs (empty calories) that raise your blood sugar, then tank your energy. Not only that, but processed foods cause cravings, so you’ll be inclined to grab more junk after you’ve already had junk! Instead, eat plant-based foods (like vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains) and lean, high protein food like chicken. If you’re tempted to eat something unhealthy, just keep telling yourself “The more junk I eat, the worse I will feel.”
- Eat before you shop. If you’re heading to the mall, you’ll be rushing to hit every store and purchase every gift on your list. That means there’s little time to eat something healthy. Plus, food options at malls tend to specialize in stress food (see #1). If you must eat while out, order healthier options like a salad with chicken, or a hearty soup that will fill you up.
- Have a spending strategy and stick to it. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of trying to fill everyone’s list that you overspend and take the attitude that you’ll deal with it later. Guess what, now you’ve just extended your stress to beyond the holiday season when the bills come due! Don’t put that pressure on yourself — establish a budget for everyone on your list and stick to it.
- Take time for yourself. Whether it’s a quiet walk, a few hours at a local spa, or just some downtime watching your favorite holiday movies with family, it’s important to take a breather! It’s ok to relax and acknowledge that the world won’t end if you don’t get every task checked off your list.
- Remember the reason for the season. What are those memories you have from childhood? Chances are, it was the joy and wonder of the season, time with family, and eagerly opening a few special gifts — not rushing around and feeling stressed! Don’t feel obligated to buy every gift on a list, attend every party or event, or stand in hours-long lines trying to acquire the latest gadget. Tell yourself your health and quality time with family are your priority. Stick to your budget, shop online, choose just one or two events, and get that gadget in January when there are no lines and plenty in stock.
- Prioritize healthy activities! The best stress reliever out there is exercise! Even if you can only spare 10-20 minutes a day, do it! Take a brisk walk, head to the gym with a friend, play tag with the kids — just move!