Books, Recipes & Magazine


5 Ways to Beat Holiday Stress & Enjoy Yourself

Wellness Wednesday- Holiday Edition

Christina Markos

Ever feel overwhelmed and anxious about all of the different parties to attend, recipes to make, gatherings to host or menus to plan during this time of year? You are not alone. “There’s the pressure to have a ‘great time,’ the expectations that everything from entertaining to family travel will go flawlessly, it’s all. Just. Too. Much,” says says Julie de Azevedo Hanks, author of The Burnout Cure (Health). The word “holiday” by definition means, “a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done,” so why do we spend so  much time feeling stressed and overworked during this season? We have a tendency to want to make everything perfect and for everything to go as planned. We need to realize that aiming for that kind of perfection is completely unrealistic and in doing so we may miss out on making some incredible holiday memories and actually enjoying ourselves. I made a vow to myself this year to try to enjoy the holidays without feeling overwhelmed by them. Allow yourself to be open and flexible to the joy and magic of the holiday season. Join me the next couple weeks on the journey to beat holiday stress and to celebrate in a happy and healthy way! Wellness isn’t just about nutrition, we need to treat our minds and bodies the right way too, especially during these busier and more stressful times.

1. Organize. With so much going on this time of year, organizing the things you can ahead of time is very helpful. With such useful tools these days (online calendars, mobile journals, google drive) it makes being and staying organized so easy. Calendar events after you RSVP or make the arrangements so you won’t forget or worry about forgetting later on. Set a reminder for yourself for each party/event/arrangement so any anxiety about remembering will disappear. Make shopping lists ahead of time on your smart phone or email them to yourself so you don’t have to worry about remembering to bring the list with you to the grocery store. Make the same lists for gifts or any cleaning up you may have to do if you have company in town. Devoting a little time to making a few lists really helps to put your mind at ease as you go about your holiday tasks. Knowing what you need will save you so much time and anxiety once you do get to the crowded grocery store or shopping mall.

2. Less Really is More. Stop trying to be perfect at everything, instead focus on one aspect to “perfect”. This year make your focus on baking healthy holiday treats if you are an excellent baker, or whip up awesome appetizers for a holiday party. Have others help you with the main meal and side dishes. If you know how to make the best egg nog or cider, make that your holiday contribution. Everyone has different talents and different things that they excel at and enjoy. Maybe you’re crafty, make some homemade gifts or gift baskets. If you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, spread the health and share your new health-conscious recipes or make a few for people to try. No one is expecting you to do it all. Do what you’re best at and what you have a passion for. It will shine through and everyone will love it. Instead of worrying about what to bring for each host/ hostess gift, buy one thing for every host/hostess. Invest in a few great bottles of proseco or champagne or a few great herb-infused olive oils to give out and put them in nice decorative and festive bags. This will make your life much simpler, trust me.  This also goes for company dropping in. Have a few easy things on hand for an impromptu gathering. Some proseco or wine, dried fruit, cheeses, and nuts for a quick cheese plate or check out this for more easy ideas to have on hand.

3. Exercise and Eat Well. During this time of year it is so hard to incorporate exercise into our even-busier daily routines. With so many fun events going on and so many opportunities to  just bake or snack and veg out, exercise and eating right become harder and harder. Because we are inside more, either entertaining, at an event, baking in the kitchen or sitting around with loved ones, we tend to stay in the comforts of our homes etc. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed the best thing you can do for yourself it to get outside and breathe some fresh air. Of course if you live in a colder climate where it is snowing or too cold, going to an indoor fitness or yoga class with a friend is incredibly beneficial. Getting just 30 minutes a day of some sort of exercise will improve your mood and your ability to take on the day without getting too stressed out. It also gives you an opportunity to have that much-needed alone time. While its tempting to just forget about eating healthy during this time of year, make a pact with yourself to eat healthy when you can. Remember, this is not about perfection. You are allowed to enjoy some holiday treats! When you aren’t at a party or baking cookies, keep healthy snacks around and make healthy choices when you can. It’s that simple.

4. Do What You Love. Take the time to enjoy yourself this holiday season! Everyone has their favorite treat or tradition and by getting involved it will make you happier and less stressed!  Make a some healthy hot cocoa to go and get in your car (solo or with loved ones) and drive around your town or city and find the houses with the best Christmas lights. Unwind with a soothing cup of peppermint tea and think of all of the things you have to be grateful for. Make a few new ornaments to put on the tree. Bake those cookies you used to make as a child. Go ice skating! Get excited about the holidays and remind yourself of the great memories you make each year. I love to make a delicious and healthier apple and pear crisp every year and just thinking about it makes me very happy, I can’t wait to make it this Christmas!

5. Be Flexible. As mentioned above, holidays are filled with traditions. Traditions are great! They only become stressful when we put too much pressure on them or we start to do things a certain way each year because “we are supposed to” etc. Take the traditions you love and keep them going, but also be open to creating new ones. Allowing yourself to be open, flexible and spontaneous will make the holidays a very merry time for everyone. When we get so caught up in all of our traditions going perfectly, it sets everyone up for disappointment or stress. If you have to move a holiday to a different day, so be it. As long as you are with the people you love things will be okay. If something doesn’t go right, laugh it off, it’s a new memory now! Try to do something new this holiday season and allow yourself to make a few mistakes.