The holiday season – beginning the day after Halloween and continuing up to the New Year – is a time for joy and laughter. A time for gathering with friends and family. What it should not be is stressful! Nevertheless, holiday stress is often inevitable amidst a whirlwind of seasonal activities, including cooking, decorating and shopping.
During the holidays, lack of time, lack of money and commercialism remain the primary causes of stress. Sticking to a healthy diet/exercise and choosing the “right” gifts were also reported. These results are according to a 2015 survey conducted by Healthline.
There are several ways you can navigate the holidays stress free. In doing so, you protect yourself from the physical, emotional and cognitive effects of chronic stress during a season that comes only once a year.
Here are four ways for you to navigate the holidays stress free.
Don’t Start a New Diet
Holiday meals and desserts can make dieting during the holidays difficult. Although there are healthier alternatives to many dishes, beginning a new diet before the holidays can backfire, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton who is the Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News. “Dieting is not as simple as calories in, calories out,” she said. “What happens in general when people start to diet, their weight may drop a little bit, producing an increase in the hunger hormone [and] that slows metabolism down.”
Experts advise waiting until the New Year to start a new diet with the goal of losing weight.
This does not mean the holidays should turn into a free-for-all, or that you should abandon already established healthy routines, though. Consider eating a healthy snack before holiday dinners, contributing nutritious dishes to potlucks, limiting your intake of sweets, taking your regular dietary supplements, drinking plenty of water, and getting eight hours of sleep at night. You should also avoid “saving room” by skipping meals.
Learn to Say “No”
Saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” can lend to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. It can also cause you to be resentful. It is more than okay to respectfully decline invitations all holiday season. Whether you do not want to attend an event because you value your time, you can’t afford the extra expense or for another reason, that is your choice. Do not worry too much about disappointing other people. Your well-being must take precedence during the holidays as well as every day of the year.
It can be easy to prioritize everything else before our own needs, especially during the holidays, but “you cannot fill from an empty cup.” Always take care of yourself first! Schedule time for yourself to join a restorative yoga class, take a walk around the block, write in a gratitude journal, watch your favorite holiday movie, or nap. Even 20 minutes a day can make a big difference.
It may seem impossible to stay active during the busy holiday season, but sneaking in some squats, a brisk walk, or another form of exercise throughout the day can really benefit your body, mind, and spirit. Physical activity is essential for good health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists these benefits: weight control; reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and some cancers; building strong, healthy muscles; and improving your mental health and mood.
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