10 Tips to Stay Sane During the Holidays
Posted by Becky Lake on November 18, 2012 at 1:46 PM
Let’s get real here: as much as we want the holidays to be a joyous occasion, they often bring loads of anxiety, frustration, depression, and that extra five-pound weight gain. That weight gain is usually brought on through cortisol, a hormone from stress that is believed to cause your body to store belly fat. Just great, right? I foresee a great deal of traveling for me, which is already a stressful situation, but it’s even worse during the hectic holiday season. I’ll definitely be putting this advice to good use, and you should, too. Maintain control of your life this holiday season with these following tips:
1. Pamper yourself.
If you’ve never had a professional massage, now’s the time. Book one in early December to empty your mind of that mile long mental checklist you have for holiday shopping and prepping. Then, get another in January simply for recovery purposes. If getting rubbed down by a stranger isn’t your thing, indulge in some red wine and dark chocolate. Both are healthy and effective remedies for pampering. Make it a point to share with others though -- a little healthy venting with a pal is much better than finishing off that entire box of chocolates alone.
2. Get moving.
Focus on fitness, but not the scale. The holidays are not the time to start a strict calorie diet. Keep your metabolism going with aerobic and strengthening exercises. Looking for something new? Check out Amazon’s Instant Video Store and find instantly streaming fitness videos for $1.99 a pop! Plus, after your purchase, you can access your video anytime you log into your Amazon account, which is perfect for traveling.
3. Hang out with happy friends.
This is great advice year round. Go for quality rather than quantity in your social life. During the holidays especially, you should only be making time for friends who make you laugh, feed your soul, or in other ways delight you. Don’t stress if you can’t see everyone all the time, but make sure to schedule a few hangouts a week with the pals who rejuvenate you the most.
Want to really nourish your soul? Volunteer! Even if you don’t have money to give, you can give your time for a great cause. Volunteer at youth centers, soup kitchens, donation drives, whatever. You’ll benefit from “helper’s high,” but more importantly, you’ll be making a positive difference, however small, in someone else’s life.
5. Play with your food.
You don’t have to overdo it on mashed potatoes and stuffing just because it’s expected of you. Try lightening up family favorites, and do healthy “makeovers” on traditional dishes. Try smaller plates for smaller portions and load up on veggies and lean protein before hitting the dessert table. When you do your best to stick to mostly healthy foods, splurging on that slice of pie won’t feel nearly so guilty. And even if you do pack on a few lbs, you’ll know you tried your best to be healthy. Plus, they’ll come off soon enough in January.
6. Rethink gift-giving.
Do whatever you need to make gift-giving as easy as possible. Are a few dollars saved worth heading out on Black Friday? Or would you rather just pick out everything online and skip the insanity that is the mall during the holiday season. Or maybe it’d be easy to do a gift exchange. I have a pretty big family, so my siblings and I will do a gift exchange between the six of us. Instead of stressing out over what to get for five people (let alone budgeting for it) we only have to shop for one other sibling. Much simpler, and you have more time to really put some thought into it.
This one sounds simple, but we often forget to relax enough for a good chuckle when stressing over the holiday. Even anticipating a good laugh significantly decreases levels of the stress hormones dopac, cortisol, and epinephrine. Consider renting two of the season’s funniest movies, “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” to get the laughs going.
Strive for eight hours, but make sure you’re getting over six, please. A lack of sleep can have devastating consequences on your immune system, plus results in exhaustion, depression, and general crankiness. None of which are good when you’ll be dealing with your “dear” Aunt Sally for seven hours straight. It’s much easier to bite your tongue and keep your sanity when you’re well-rested.
9. Say no.
Just try it! We promise it will actually feel good. You don’t have to accept every invitation or do everything that’s requested of you. Learning to say no is an absolute necessity to get through the holidays with your sanity.
10. Cut yourself some slack.
Oh man, something about the holidays brings out all that personal guilt. Maybe you didn’t get the cards sent, and “gasp!” only had time to pick up a store-bought pie instead of baking a homemade one. None of this is cause for guilt. Remember, you’re only human, and the point of the holidays is enjoy time with loved ones.
How do you stay sane during the holidays?