Stay on Track for the Holidays

Simple strategies to help you stay in control all season long.
Published November 25, 2015

“The four sources of stress during the holidays are fantasies, family, food and finances,” says Mark Gorkin, a psychotherapist and public speaker.” “The temptation is to want it all,” he says. People often get so caught up in the eating, drinking, partying and shopping, he adds, “that there is no time for spiritual reflection and quiet nurturing.”

Nurture your sanity this holiday season with these eight tips: 

  1. Just say “no”
    Be realistic about how many parties you can attend. Remember that saying yes to every invitation could result in burnout. Also, going to tons of parties presents more challenges to your healthy eating plan than you might want. 
  2. Stay in your groove
    Carve out time for yourself — and guard it. If you have an exercise routine, such as walking every day, keep that as your anchor, and try to make holiday chores and events revolve around your exercise schedule, not the other way around. 
  3. Take baby steps
    It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of holiday tasks. Certain tasks are more doable when broken into chunks. For example, you could purchase holiday cards a month before Christmas or Hanukkah and write a few at a time over the next several weeks. Then, address all the envelopes. If you have kids, why not get them to stuff envelopes and put on the stamps? 
  4. Appoint a “designated nagger”
    Give your significant other or friend permission to nag you when you start worrying too much. Have your “designated nagger” tell you to slow down and take a deep breath as soon as you begin worrying too much about overeating, not exercising enough or finding the perfect gift for everyone down to your boss’s cat. 
  5. Have a big holiday draw
    Sit down with your family early in the holiday season and discuss the sources of stress and conflict that always seem to rear up this time of year. Then distribute crayons and paper, and have everyone draw pictures of your “family stress image” — a big ogre wearing a Santa hat or a giant present exploding like a firecracker, for example. 
  6. Walk it out
    Take a nice long walk and focus on smelling the crisp winter air or watching snow falling as a form of meditation. 
  7. Immerse yourself in music
    Listen to holiday songs, or make your own recording  of your favourite tunes. 
  8. Stroll down memory lane
    Fill a box with objects that are important to you, such as your child’s first tooth, family photos, postcards, letters or inspirational quotes. Whenever stress looms, take out your box and enjoy the warm feelings your mementos inspire.