5 Tips for Taming Stress During the Holidays


  • busy shopping scene


    It is that time of year; the days are shorter, the temperatures are colder, and the holidays are looming. With all the hustle and bustle, many of us begin to freak out, and rightly so. As Director of Clinical Advisor and a health journalist, I have written a lot about how to survive the holidays gracefully, but as a back pain sufferer, I have had to actually practice what I preach. Here is my take on how to reduce stress and, hopefully, sail through the holidays without a major meltdown.

  • Tip #1. Give up the Instagram-perfect holiday.

    As a recovering perfectionist, I have had to learn the hard way that trying to make everything “just right” simply causes additional stress. Nowadays, I have learned to ask for help. If you are planning on hosting family and friends for the holidays, make it potluck-style. Drop the illusion that everything is going to be picture perfect, and go with the flow.

  • reaching for a christmas cookie

    Tip #2. Watch your diet.

    Be mindful of the extra sugar, carbs, and gluten that we usually consume during the holiday season. We all tend to gain weight in the winter (especially if you live in cold-weather climates), but extra weight puts extra strain on our joints and heart. It’s always smart to keep a food journal, plan ahead—if you are going to a holiday party, eat a light breakfast and lunch—and be mindful about what you’re eating.

  • tying shoelaces before exercising

    Tip #3. Find time to exercise.

    My mantra is, “motion is lotion,” even though I am far from perfect when it comes to getting enough exercise. Walking the dogs and cleaning the house just about sums up the extent of my aerobic activities, but I have recently begun a morning routine of stretching and yoga. I took my first yoga class probably 15 years ago, but I never advanced beyond beginner status. So my routine is mostly done on the mat and focused on stretching and deep breathing. However, I feel better than I have in years. Even the smallest bit of exercise can have a big impact!

  • Tip #4. Practice meditation.

    I have not always been a churchgoer, but I have maintained a spiritual life. Through my spirituality, I’ve found prayer and meditation to be an essential component in making me a more level-headed person. I practice 10 to 20 minutes of meditation on most days (again, never done perfectly; life happens), usually along with my yoga/stretching routine.

  • volunteering at a soup kitchen

    Tip #5. Give back.

    Whether it’s reaching out to a friend and asking how he/she is doing, writing a card, or making meals for a neighbor, going the extra mile for people in need helps me get out of my own head. Distraction is a stress reliever, and doing some volunteer work has helped divert my attention from my own problems and focus on someone else. It works!

  • snowy winter scene


    The holidays can be a stressful time, but they also provide the opportunity to see family and friends. By being flexible, taking the pressure off yourself, asking for help, and trying to eat right and exercise (when you can), you can have a less stressful, more restorative holiday.