How To Overcome Stress During the Holidays

By MarieDecember 26, 2017


Overcome Holiday Stress

We’re in the final stretch of the holiday season! New Years is a week away. That means one more week of holiday parties, family time and leftover Christmas cookies. It also means one more week of holiday stress. We’ve all experienced it: the underlying exhaustion that feels as though it might push you over the edge. You may even feel as though throwing your hands up and simply surrendering to old habits and patterns of behavior is the only realistic solution, however, it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few tips to overcome stress during the holidays. 


Don’t have an all or nothing mentality

This is one of the most common mistakes people make during the holiday season. Whenever they are faced with the opportunity to indulge, they come up with an almost automatic response of ‘Sure, it’s the holidays, why not!?’

And it’s true, you should allow yourself to relax and enjoy yourself along with your family and friends. Enjoy the odd treat or drink! In fact, most fitness experts will tell you that treating yourself is essential to long-term motivation. However during the holiday period that little word ‘occasionally’ often gets forgotten.

Here’s how it usually goes. You eat something “bad” early in the day, let’s say a whole sheet of Marvin’s chocolate brownies. Then, feeling guilty, you decide the whole day is ruined. Since you’ve already blown it, why not eat pizza for dinner? And, hey since the diet is ruined anyways, why not have ice cream for dessert too? 

This “all or nothing” mentality is a trap we’ve all fallen into at times. But during the holidays, it can take on a whole new dimension. 


Binging on junk food for an entire day can hinder your progress, but it probably won’t have truly damaging consequences. However binging for the entire month of December can undo all the hard work you’ve put in the year leading up to it. 

The key to avoiding this all or nothing mentality is to PLAN ahead. Pick which times and foods are the most important to you. Which ones will you get the most enjoyment out of? Eggnog? Your grandma’s Italian cooking? A few glasses of red wine? Then look ahead on your calendar, mark down the days your going to “cheat”, really enjoy the treat, but stick to your regular routine the rest of the time.

If you can do this then you can still enjoy all of the amazing foods, drinks and experiences of this time of year, without taking three steps backwards.



Show them how it’s done!

If you go to a party or family event and there are only unhealthy food choices at the table, guess what? You’re going to end up eating junk food! Instead, why not use the opportunity to bring healthy food choices and show your loved ones how good healthy food can taste?

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that there are so many great recipes and ways to make mouthwatering delicious meals, treats, snacks and desserts that are also super healthy! Healthy dairy-free pumpkin smoothies or Paleo chocolate mouse, are great examples of treats everyone will love.

And remember, you don’t have to eat huge quantities to get enjoyment. Set a one plate policy for yourself, load it up with the healthy you brought, and restrict yourself to 1 or 2 drinks. (Or better still, skip the alcohol altogether). If you’re skipping the booze, bring some soda water and splash a bit of fruit juice into it so you don’t feel pressure to be holding a drink. 



Plan festive activities that don’t revolve around food

Many festive traditions and activities are centered around eating and drinking. However, there are so many fun holiday activities that don’t revolve around food and booze. This next week, why don’t you suggest some healthy plans?

A few ideas: go see a great concert or A Capella group. Or go on a hike or try out a yoga class with a friend. Getting some exercise, even if it’s gentle, is an extra effective way to banish holiday stress. Try and get into the festive spirit by planning as many healthy, non-food focused activities as you can. You will have just as much fun without all the temptation!

Finally, why not give something back? Buy some presents for charity toy drives, or volunteer to help out at your local food bank. Not only will this be helpful to others, it is also an act of kindness that can go a long way to reducing your overall stress!



Stick to the basics

Sticking to a routine of regular exercise, good nutrition, and getting enough sleep is always important. But during the holidays, which can be a chaotic time with competing demands, sticking to that schedule is extra important. Today, take the time to look ahead at your social calendar for the rest of December. If you find that certain events are going to clash with parts of your routine, make adjustments ahead of time.

For example if you’re going on a red eye flight, schedule in an after-work nap. Or if you’re day is packed with work meetings, followed by happy hour, fit your workout into the morning or lunch hour. If you don’t make those adjustments, you’ll just end up falling behind and put yourself at risk of getting into that all or nothing mentality that I talked about before.



Take time to breathe!

It’s all well and good to try and avoid overindulging, and to try and maintain consistency with your regular exercise routine, but don’t forget to make time to chill! As enjoyable as this time of year can be, it can be undeniably stressful at times.

So try to make time for ‘alone time’. Meditate, go for walks, take a yoga class or simply relax with a good book and hot cup of tea. Keep your mind grounded and calm to help avoid stress and ensure you get as much enjoyment as possible this festive season!



Be grateful!

Above all, don’t forget to use this time of year to take a step back and be grateful for all you have achieved, everything and everyone in your life and the exciting times in the upcoming year.

Channel these positive vibes into your motivation and mindset for everything you do this festive period.

If you remember to practice gratitude, and utilize the strategies I have laid out for you here, you will have a fun, positive and healthy festive period!

*About Ascend Body: As the best personal trainers in San Francisco’s Mission District, we offer 1:1 personal training, Semi-Private strength training sessions and Boost your body small group training sessions. We pride ourselves on having the best nutritionist, massage therapists and wellness coaches in SF to provide you a one stop shop for all your SF fitness and wellness needs. Call (415) 724-7164 to schedule a free nutrition and fitness consultation today!


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