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9 Steps to a Stress-Free Holiday

The ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is just around the corner.

You may have already started to receive party invites or even started your Christmas shopping. If so, it’s likely you’ve begun to feel the effects of this demanding time of year: anxiety, stress, feelings of being overwhelmed and thinking, “there’s no way I’ll get everything done in time!” Add the fact that you desperately want to keep up your exercise schedule and stay on track with your fitness goals and it’s no wonder that many people simultaneously look forward to and dread the holiday season.


There are, however, many strategies you can apply to make this holiday season one that’s filled with happy memories. Here are 9 easy steps to a stress-free holiday:

  • Make a plan. If you and your family aren’t already using a master calendar, now is the time to start.  Input all activities (parties, kids’ events, etc.) so you can catch any conflicts early on allowing you to plan accordingly. If you’ll need babysitters for your kids, try and book them as early as possible to avoid scrambling last minute – easing unnecessary stress.


  • Prioritize your To Do list. Determine early on in the season what gifts you need to buy, what food you need to prepare, what decorating you need to do and what other tasks will need to be accomplished.  Prioritise this list to get the most important things out of the way first. In your personal schedule, allot time to accomplish everything in a stress free (or low stress) way.


  • Make sure to schedule workouts. Just as you book time for parties and shopping, make sure to also block off time for fitness. This will make you more likely to maintain a healthy weight even during the most over-indulgent time of year.


  • Have a Plan B. Even if you have to miss a scheduled workout, ensure to add in at least 10 minutes of activity a day.  If you’re not able to get to your fitness club, be sure you have options; do a quick exercise video, climb your stairs a few times, park the car further away from the shopping centre, walk the dog, or do vigorous housework.


  • Get outside! Fresh air is invigorating and it’s summer after all! If you have kids, be sure to get them outside every day to reap the benefits of fresh, crisp air and the dose of Vitamin D that the sun provides. Think about activities that get you and your family moving.


  • Be conscious of temptation and plan accordingly. What’s your holiday food or beverage weakness? Cocktails, desserts, large turkey dinners, constant snacking? Plan ahead in order to keep your body well-nourished, cravings to a minimum and energy levels high. Take advantage of fall produce by making large batches of soup now and freezing them for use during the peak holiday season.  Make sure you stock your fridge and counter top with healthy, easy-to-grab meal and snack options so that you’re not desperately hungry and resorting to fast food.


  • Party smart. Holiday parties are filled with alcohol, fatty foods, high salt snacks and sugar-laden treats. It’s ok to indulge a little. However, be as conscious as you can about what’s going into your mouth.  Before parties, fill your belly with water-filled, nutrient-packed homemade soup (mentioned above) so that you’re less likely to tackle the hors d’oeuvres table.  Then, make smart choices at the party: shrimp cocktails, fresh veggies, and a big glass of water to start. Limit your drinks and always consume a glass of water between alcoholic beverages.  Try and socialise away from the food table so that you’re less likely to unconsciously nibble.


  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’s summer and your body needs high levels of water – that heat can be dehydrating. Be sure to have a water bottle with you at all times and take sips throughout the day. Aim for a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, ideally more.  Staying hydrated will help keep your energy levels high, immune system working optimally, your metabolism up and food cravings down.


  • Plan to be stressed. It might sound negative, but planning for stress might allow your holidays to be more positive overall.  Think about what relaxes you.  If it’s a massage, book one for the peak of the holiday season now so you can look forward to the break.  If you find yoga relaxing, be sure to allow for a few classes and practice over the holidays.  Another strategy is to take 10 minutes a day to do simple meditation techniques; the short break of turning off your brain and consciously relaxing your body can do a world of good.  Plan how you’ll unwind and de-stress before the stress starts!



To conclude, the most important thing you can do for yourself over the holidays is not be too hard on yourself.  Bumps in the road and obstacles will inevitably get in your way. All you can do is your best.  Try to sit back and enjoy quality time with your family and friends. Ultimately, it’s not the extra batch of cookies, the perfectly wrapped gifts under the tree, or the additional string of lights you managed to put up that you’ll remember – it’s the precious moments with loved ones.

Happy Holidays!