Navigating Holiday Stress

Like it or not, the holidays can raise our stress levels making it difficult to cope in healthy/helpful ways. Some people have painful holiday memories, some have lost loved ones and are continuing to grieve, some may be far from home and others are stressed about making the day/time perfect. Whatever your situation is, remember that it’s valid and these suggestions are here for you.

Four Ways to Mindfully Enjoy the Holidays

Helpful Communication:

We communicate in three general ways; passive, aggressive and assertive. You might be able to guess what the first two look like but assertiveness is trickier. It’s a way of communicating that improves your confidence in what you’re saying. It also helps people more clearly understand you and you feel as though you are heard. Try statements using “I” statements instead of “you” accusations.

You have a right to keep things short and sweet and say, “no, thank you” in regards to anything and leave it at that.

You also have a right to enjoy your food/drink without justifying it to anyone.

This is much easier said than done for many of us, do what feels comfortable for you. 

Saving & Burning Calories

When you go into the holiday party starving and anxious, it’s highly likely that you’re going to over indulge or eat/drink to a point past fullness. Granted, there are times when we will intentionally eat more than our body “needs” and that’s okay. What’s not helpful is going to the party without food all day to “save calories.” This trap tends to increase stress and can send us over the edge when we get to the party. Enjoy food wisely and mindfully all day.

Furthermore, you do not need to go in to the dinner with enough calories burned to enjoy your meal. By all means, get some movement in that day for physical and mental wellbeing. But don’t equate the need for exercise to justify your food choices.

Where’s your Focus?

If the holidays are causing intense emotions around food, exercise, fear of body talk, etc…try going into each celebration/event with a different focus. Food can be enjoyed as apart of that focus, but try and ask yourself, “what do I want out of this dinner/event/party?” Do I want to catch up with an old friend? Do I want to review the year with a beloved family member?

Slow Down

I saved the best for last (IMO). We spend all day cooking and weeks preparing/decorating our home only for our meal to last fifteen minutes. Take your time eating and savor every bite/sip. This can help us keep our stress level down and our responses to stress will feel steadier too. The gut and the brain take a while to speak to one another, then communicate to you that you are full/satisfied. A great way to help yourself get in touch with this is to ask yourself where you are on a scale of 1 – 10 for your hunger/fullness. One is so empty I’m dizzy and ten is I’m so full I’m sick. Take your time and eat intentionally so you get the most out of every bite physically and emotionally too!

It’s normal to overeat on a holiday. You do not need to justify this to everyone. Make the day about being thankful, enjoy the delicious food, take a deep breath and most importantly…tell me how it goes!

I wish you all a HAPPY Thanksgiving!

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