Ten Simple Ways to Beat Holiday Stress and Overeating

holiday strategies‘Tis the season of holiday fun and festivity—and holiday weight gain, stress, and overload. I’ll get right to the point.

Here are ten simple ways to add ease to your holidays, lower stress, and avoid holiday overeating and weight gain (or at least minimize the damage).
  1.  Be clear on your goals.  Ask yourself what you want to have or experience during the holidays. Whatever your goal—creating happy memories, maintaining your weight, or hosting an enjoyable family gathering—you are much more likely to achieve what you want if you are crystal clear on what it is.
  2. Ditch perfectionism. Settle for “good enough” this holiday season, and you’ll probably laugh more and stress a lot less. “Perfect” rarely happens, and frankly, it’s not very much fun having to have everything “just right.” Give yourself permission to lighten up and enjoy the moment. Don't set drastic goals for weight loss or life change. Acknowledge the progress that you make and focus on taking small, consistent steps.
  3. Set time and energy budgets. Setting a financial budget is critical for reducing stress and overwhelm during the holidays, but it’s also essential to be realistic about budgeting your time and energy. Be clear about how much of yourself you have to give to various projects and do your best to stick within these limits. You’ll find that this policy also helps with perfectionism.
  4. Savor the important stuff and say no to the rest. Focus on making deliberate choices and then savoring. This is an excellent strategy for approaching holiday treats and can help prevent holiday weight gain. It’s also a useful decision-making tool for the invitations and events that many of us face in December. The holidays come with some very special once-a-year-treats that you probably don’t want to miss. Identify what these are—and make sure you allow yourself the chance to indulge and enjoy them. Make a commitment to yourself now to pass up all the “extras” that aren’t really anything special. Decide now to skip the chips, store-bought cookies, extra cocktails, and “fillers” that people will be setting out this holiday season. Likewise, choose deliberately and decline the “must-do” events that really aren’t where you want to be spending your valuable time.  
  5. Make it a group thing. Make cookie baking or shopping a social activity. Put on some music and have the whole family do a massive whole-house pickup, laundry folding session, or gift wrapping blitz. Don’t be a martyr. Divide up your to-do list when possible and don’t be shy about asking for help.
  6. Schedule.  Plan ahead and set aside time for your high-priority items. Don’t forget to claim a spot for your own self-care, exercise, etc. Put these in your calendar now and you won’t end up disappointed because you never got around to them.
  7. Take time for you.  Pay yourself first with a little me-time and you’ll have more energy, focus, and passion for all the rest of your activities. You may also find yourself doing less stress or comfort eating. At a minimum, claim ten minutes at the start of your day to check in with yourself and identify your priorities for the day. Spending ten minutes focused on you, whether it is spent in quiet time, journaling, yoga, or meditation can make a huge difference in the way the rest of your day unfolds.
  8. Get your zzzs.  Sleep affects just about everything including energy, appetite, and mood. Although you may be tempted to burn the midnight oil, you’ll be more productive and effective if you commit to seven and a half hours of sleep a night.
  9.  Be clear on your challenges.  What’s likely to cause hitches, stress, or throw you off track this season? Be proactive by brainstorming some strategies now that can help you during challenging times.
  10.  Be in the moment.  Make a point of focusing on the present instead of spending your energy thinking about the past or worrying about what still may be on your to-do list. Stop to breathe deep, make eye contact, feel the snow on your face, or say, “Thank you.” The moment you are in right now is the place where your life is happening.

Take good care,

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