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Published on December 01, 2015

Strategies for Seasonal Stressors

December 1, 2015

Money isn’t the only obstacle to navigate this holiday season.

woman holding her head in her handsAcute stress
, according to the American Psychological Association, can be triggered by many holiday demands, including holiday events and finances. When you’re facing acute stress, you might be affected by excessive headaches, consumption of extra calories and possible avoidance strategies.

Turn the tables on stress this year by preparing beforehand:

  • Holiday conversations. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reminds us to consider others and the grief that may accompany the holidays. Be mindful of conversational topics. If you or someone you know has lost someone around the holidays, talk before the season about associations that may trigger pain.
  • Parties that drag on. PBS reminds those grieving to utilize an “exit strategy” when needed. The same rule applies to parties. To avoid avid talkers, excuse yourself to the bathroom or the food table. Always have a predetermined bedtime in mind.
  • Too many parties. Pick and choose which events to attend. Do not let holiday guilt get you down. Be an advocate for yourself and protect your time. Too many parties can leave you feeling depleted.
  • Present giving. Instead of buying presents for everyone, draw names. Each person could then focus on buying one thoughtful gift. The New York Times reminds us that gift giving can be rewarding for relationships. Instead of losing out on this benefit, connect with others, even if “gifts” are homemade cards.
  • Electronics. Tired of everyone having their phones out during get togethers? Encourage everyone to stay present in the moment. Consider having an electronics basket so people have a convenient place to leave phones. 

Healthy Stress Relievers

Not all stress can be eliminated. The National Institutes of Health reminds us that some handle stress better than others. To thrive during stressful season, add the following habits:

  1. Exercise weekly. Do not let holiday excuses—cold weather, too many events, or lack of time or a gym membership—keep you from exercise. A natural stress reliever, a long run may clear your head and cheer up your heart.
  2. Stay mindful. Remember the reason for the season. Jot down gratitude lists and meditate. Read back over your lists to redirect your focus during difficult moments.
  3. Balance everything. Depending on your level of introversion, you may need excess time alone to reboot. If so, spend time alone and don’t feel bad about it.

Tackling Holiday Food

The holidays can be filled with sweets and calories, but you have options:

  1. Make substitutions. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us to get creative. Use applesauce or coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil. Focus on making healthy side dishes, like baked vegetables, instead of heavier options.

  2. Arrive full. Eat before you go to that office party to control your calories. Save room to indulge in one small sweet.

  3. Make judgment calls. The American Heart Association suggests that when it comes to food, looks matter. If it appears unhealthy, avoid it.

  4. Drink with caution. Every drink packs calories. Cut back on sugary and alcoholic beverages. Instead, stick to water and unsweet iced tea.

  5. Use smaller plates. Be proactive. It takes less to fill a small plate, so you’ll eat less.


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