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Healthy Ways to Lower Holiday Stress

Is this how the holidays make you feel?
Is this how the holidays make you feel?

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! Rather than being a happy announcement, many people view the holiday season with dread. The cost, time and effort required to make everything “just right” can create incredible amounts of stress. This year, try some of these ideas to get through the next couple of months healthier and happier.

Keep your fitness schedule, but allow some flexibility. Like most people, I workout at the same time every day. So when holidays come, I put any events or parties in my schedule. Then I see where my workouts will fit so I can stay consistent. Sometimes that means I move my workouts to the morning. Other times I might have to exercise over lunch. I might even change my workout to something quick right before the event. You can make the party, you just might have to adjust when you go to the gym.

Don't cancel more than one workout a week. Missing just one day is no big deal. The problem starts when one day turns into three days, a week or a month. The more you miss, the easier it is to slip into a non-exercising routine. Muscle loss starts and weight begins to creep up. Every day that's missed, steals a little bit more energy from you.

Feel free to say NO. Just because you get invited to a party, doesn't mean you have to go. It's perfectly acceptable to send a note thanking people for the invite, but letting them know you'll be unable to attend. The same goes for other holiday obligations. Make a list of everything you think you have to do, then honestly decide if it's all really mandatory. You might be surprised how much you can scratch off that list.

Make parties about things to do, not food. A typical party involves getting a bunch of people together, drinking (too much), eating (too much) and standing around trying to make small talk. If you're responsible for a party, or helping someone plan one, make it an event.

Have everyone bring a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. Play lawn games over the 4th of July. Decorate a tree together if you celebrate Christmas or bike around your neighborhood to enjoy holiday decorations. Put more thought into what people will be doing, instead of eating. The memories they create will be far better than almost any meal you can come up with. While you're planning things, remember to ask others for help. You don't have to do it all yourself.

Don't bring cheat food into your home, you'll get enough when you go out. Don't skip meals either, it just makes you hungrier when you go to a party and more likely to load up on junk food. To make things easier, cook big batches of healthy meals the month before and freeze them. Then when you need something quick, it can be ready after five minutes in the microwave.

Remember to SLEEP. When you get home from work, don't turn on the television, don't play video games and don't log on to social media. Play a little music, unwind and go through your routine, but without any screen time. Then go to bed. Instead of staring at your phone or watching television for 3-4 hours, use that time to get more rest, so you're better able to handle the next day. I promise you, if something really important happens, your friends and family will let you know.

Set a budget and stick to it. Talk with friends and family. Some families agree to only give gifts to children. Others draw a name out of a hat and only buy for that person. You can also try exchanging non-monetary gifts, like offering your time to help out. Don't reach for the credit card and rack up debt you can't afford.

Take the holidays back. Focus on things that you enjoy and discard the rest.

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