It’s time to make holiday stress, overeating, and weight gain a thing of the past.

The holidays can be a time of great stress and unhealthy eating behaviors that often leads to guilt, anxiety, and unwanted pounds. But you can change this. You can enjoy your holidays without being out of control or depriving yourself of your favorite holiday treats.

Isn’t it time to stop the crazy cycle? Stress, overeat, gain weight, feel bad about gaining weight, go on a diet January 1st to try to lose the weight. Agh!!!

You can break this cycle just by making the decision to do so. And following some easy holiday stress reduction tips. It’s time to put yourself on your holiday To Do list so you don’t end up stressed, tired, cranky, and looking to food for comfort.

10 ways to beat holiday stress without drama, deprivation, or added pounds.


1. Take extra care of your body.  Self-care is essential during the hustle of the holidays. You know you feel better when you exercise and it can be especially beneficial during the holidays when you’re more likely to be overwhelmed and stressed. This doesn’t mean hours at the gym; it can mean long walks, riding your bike, swimming, dancing, or any movement that you enjoy. After exercise, do your body even more good by taking a soothing bath or try a massage.

2. Take extra care of your mind. Meditation or Yoga are great tools for holiday stress relief. Benefits include better sleep, stress reduction, increased optimism, boost in self-confidence, reduced anxiety, and it can promote a general feeling of happiness. Put it on your calendar so you don’t place everything else ahead of your needs.

3.  Don’t deprive yourself of family favorites. Those special dishes you dream about and wait all year for won’t be as harmful as the way you feel when you deprive yourself of them. Caution: Don’t eat these special foods with guilt, judgment, or shame; these feelings are stressful metabolism busters. The goal is to avoid being extreme. Don’t overindulge to the point of being out of control. Pick one or two of your favorites and savor every mouthful.

4.  Give. Helping others during the holidays is a great way to get perspective on what’s important. You always help yourself when you are helping others. Whether you volunteer at a shelter, give toys to needy kids, or invite someone to dinner who is alone this year – you will feel so much more gratitude for all your blessings when you reach out to others.

5.  Get Help. Why do you think you have to do it all yourself? Ask your family and friends to pitch in. Most people want to be included in the holiday planning so LET THEM. Things may not be exactly the perfect way you envision things in your head, but you want a happy holiday – not a perfect looking holiday. No one will care if the potatoes are lumpy or the presents aren’t wrapped perfectly.

6.  Have fun. Make having fun your top priority. You can sometimes forget this during all the craziness of the holiday season. Schedule your fun – watch funny movies, play fun games, or just laugh with friends.

7.  Just Say No. Holiday stress management can be found in just one simple word – NO. Just say NO to one or two things on your To Do list and watch some of the stress melt away.

8.  Don’t just give presents, be present. How often do you find yourself eating unconsciously during the holidays? Those extra pounds can show up because you’re life is on autopilot trying to get everything done. This isn’t a time for deprivation, it’s a time to enjoy everything about the holidays – including food. But eat mindfully, savoring the taste, aromas, and pleasures of the season.

9.  Be prepared. Don’t get sucked into eating the junk food on your co-worker’s desk or eating your kids’ chocolate Santa. Have lots of healthy (but delicious) food available at home and at work. Don’t eat impulsively; have a plan for eating your favorite holiday dishes. For instance, don’t skip meals so you can indulge later, drink plenty of water, and balance these special treats with healthy vegetables and protein.

10. Just let whatever happens be okay. This tip is the most important for a stress-free holiday. This is so easy and yet years of habits and unrealistic expectations prevent you from just going with the flow and accepting the wonderful imperfections of the holidays. Give up the Norman Rockwell image in your head and the expectation that this year things will be different. You can’t change all the people and conditions around you and trying to do so only causes more stress. There’s usually someone who pisses you off, especially during the holidays. But not this year. This year, you refuse to let Uncle Joe or Aunt Sally ruin the holidays for you. It doesn’t matter if they’re crazy or wrong, let it go. Sometimes it’s just better to be happy than to be right.

Eliminating holiday stress starts with the decision to do so.

  • Imagine yourself this holiday season. Imagine that you’re surrounded by family and friends. Your happiness isn’t dependent on whether THEY are acting a certain way. You don’t let family dysfunction or friends who have their own agendas determine whether you’re happy. Imagine eating your favorite holiday dish without guilt or self-loathing. So delicious. Imagine being able to create a happy holiday regardless of what others are saying or doing, how much you have to do, or what you decide to eat. And then DECIDE to make it happen.
  • What’s the one thing that usually causes the most stress for you during the holiday season? Whatever it is, make a plan to offset this stress. Is it your mother who always finds something to criticize you for? DECIDE to let it roll off your back this year. Is it your Grandma who gets offended if you don’t eat everything she cooks? Have a talk with her, let her know how much you love her, but you are making healthier choices now. Too much on you To Do list? Make a plan to delegate or eliminate as much as possible. Alone this holiday? Volunteer at a shelter or invite others who are alone to share a meal.

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