The holiday season should not be synonymous with weight gain. But sadly, the holiday season usually equals holiday stress. And holiday stress can lead to stress eating and drinking. The cycle is vicious.

But you don’t have to watch all of the hard work and good habits you have been working on sail out the window with your sanity.

Take hold.

Take deep breaths.

Dig in your heels.

Scream into a pillow.

And use these 5 tips to battle holiday stress this year. 

5 Tips to Battle Holiday Stress

  1. Be realistic. Basically don’t set yourself up for failure. It is not a great idea to expect yourself to cook dinner every night, get your shopping and wrapping done, and get your house ready for company in addition to everyday life/chores. Batch cook a few meals. Utilize your slow cooker or make a few freezer meals to have on hand. Think about restaurants that have good options that fit within your diet (i.e. Jimmy John’s unwiches). Being realistic about what you can do and accomplish will leave you feeling victorious instead of defeated.
  2. Drink fluids. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remembering to grab fluids is not typically high on your list. If you have had a weight loss surgery, dehydration can set in quickly. Energy level drops, headaches start, and nausea can kick in. Many times these symptoms are attributed to being busy or stressed. However, they can be prevented or alleviated by drinking plenty of water. Your goal should always be 96oz daily.
  3. Make time for exercise. Most of us have heard that exercise makes us happy. But it can also relieve stress. Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals in the brain. So exercise can not only help with weight loss because it burns calories and fat stores, but it gives us an outlet for stress other than eating. Did you know that endorphins are also realeased when eating certain foods? The happiness and stress relief is the same pathway for food and exericse….so instead of reaching for the holiday candy, grab your shoes for a short walk or just do some jumping jacks in your living room. Any movement is good movement.   
  4. Set limits. Learn to say no. Say it with me….NO. It is okay to say no to the holiday party your neighbor’s cousin is throwing. It is okay to say no to the last minute house guest asking to stay at your place. It is okay to say no. And sometimes, it is necessary. Spreading yourself too thin is just asking for stress to pile on. With that stress typically comes stress eating and dropping your workout routine. Know what and how much you can handle without compromising yourself and your health.
  5. Make yourself a priority. This is a hard one for most of us. Making ourselves a priority on any given day is difficult, let alone during the busiest two months of the year. This tip really encompasses the first four. When you make yourself a priority in your own life it is easy to be realistic, stay hydrated, keep doing your workouts, and set limits for other people. When you are a priority, your health and all of the good habits you have been working on building stay in the spotlight. The people who love you will (or should) recognize how happy and stress free you are compared to before. All because you are focused on you.

Holidays can add a new level of stress when you are trying to adopt new and healthier habits. Instead of feeling defeated by the thought of the holiday stress that can wash over you, try adopting these tips. You will not only survive this holiday season, you will thrive.