Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

4 Tips for Dealing With Holiday Stress

Dec 17, 2014

By Victor S. Sierpina, MD

The holiday season can evoke the smell of apple cider, the sight of autumn leaves, and the warmth of a fireplace. It can also trigger the guilt of overeating, the stress of overspending, and endless family drama. Use these four tips for coping with the holidays in a more mindful way to help you enjoy the season as a much healthier person.

Get active. Exercise is one of the best forms of stress relief, and this time of year, most major cities have themed fun runs, such as a “Turkey Trot” around Thanksgiving, and a “Jingle Bell Run” at Christmastime. These festive 5K (3.1 mile) fun runs are the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and burn off a few calories before sitting down to a big meal. And don’t worry if you can’t run the whole way — plenty of people will be out walking the course, too! (Dallas’ Jingle Bell Run is scheduled for Dec. 21. Get all the details here.)

Be flexible. Most holiday meals are ripe for family drama. Prepare yourself for any number of things – loud young children, absent adult children, texting teenagers, a dropped turkey — the list goes on. Remind yourself that this is an opportunity to share time with people you love, and don’t become overwhelmed with negative emotions.

Be generous. No need to break the bank — spending time on experiences actually lasts longer, and can help reduce your financial stress. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful this time of year, and spending time serving at a local soup kitchen or adopting a family for Christmas truly makes you feel good with an added bonus of teaching younger family members a life lesson.

Indulge. The holidays are a time of celebration after all — enjoy the time away from work, the time spent with family, and the opportunity to savor delicious foods. Often times the guilt associated with eating a slice of pie is worse for our health than the pie itself. Be smart and stick to the techniques you already know; use a smaller plate, eat small portions, and approach these special meals in a mindful way. If you are recovering from weight loss surgery, be sure to follow doctor’s orders when it comes to eating and nutrition.

Soon enough, the holidays will be over, work will still be there, and you can continue your weight loss journey. While it may not be possible to have an entirely stress-free holiday, with the right combination of activity, flexibility, and generosity, you can reduce your stress level and enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season.