Halloween is behind us and November has just begun. With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is nearly upon us. Between shopping, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, socializing, and traveling, there is no doubt that the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year.

In fact, one recent study showed that 44% of people describe the holiday season as stressful, with 18% of those people describing themselves as feeling ‘very stressed’ during this time of the year. Of course, the cause of this extra stress varies from person to person. For some of us, it may be caused by attending parties, traveling, or other social obligations while for others it may be the extra financial pressure brought on by hosting large meals or giving gifts.

No matter where the extra stress comes from, there is one thing that is true for all of us—holiday stress, just like any other stress, can be hard on your mental and physical well-being. And while there are many tips out there to help you cope with stress throughout the rest of the year, the fact of the matter is that many of them don’t always apply to the holiday season. After all, there are many things about the holidays that are out of our control, which means that advice like “plan early” and “step away and take a break” doesn’t always apply.

With that in mind, the question remains—what can you do to help yourself manage stress this holiday season? Here are a few tricks you can try.

1. Manage Your Expectations (And Keep Them Realistic)

First things first, remind yourself that being perfect is impossible. It’s okay if you forget to make a specific side for dinner or if you’re a few minutes late to the party. Help yourself minimize the amount of stress and overwhelm you feel by being intentional about your expectations right now, and make sure those expectations are realistic. Remind yourself that the goal is to spend quality time with those you love, not to have a perfect holiday that goes off without a hitch. And if things do go a little sideways, look for creative ways to make do with what you have.

On a similar note, keep track of all of your holiday commitments and responsibilities so you can ensure you don’t take on more than you can handle. After all, there is only so much that can be done in a day, and you still need to make sure you have time to take care of yourself. So mark your celebrations on the calendar, keep a list of tasks you need to complete, and remember it’s okay to say no every once in a while—you don’t have to be the one who does everything! At the end of the day, your holiday can only be made better by keeping your celebrations and expectations manageable.

2. Take Care Of Yourself

In order to keep holiday stress at a minimum, it’s important to ensure that you are doing well. No, we aren’t talking about doing well financially (although that may be important too), we mean putting your personal health and well-being first, which means making your physical and mental health a priority. How can you do this?

First, don’t let yourself abandon any of the healthy habits you’ve already established. No matter what your holiday plans are, make your best effort to stick to your exercise routine, keep your diet on track, continue taking your supplements, and participate in your daily yoga or meditation practices. Sure, you can still enjoy a piece of pie after dinner, but you shouldn’t allow yourself to stray too far from your normal healthy routines.   

3. Set Your Boundaries

Whether you are celebrating with family or friends, it’s important to know your own limits and set boundaries to help keep yourself from exceeding those limits. You can set boundaries in a number of different areas. Maybe you want to avoid being stretched too thin, so you set a boundary around how much of the cooking and cleaning you will be doing. Or maybe you have limits in relation to the types of conversations that happen at the dinner table, so you set a boundary that there will be no conversations about politics, religion, or any other topic you want to avoid.

Whatever boundaries you set for yourself, the key is to not keep them to yourself. In order to help yourself stick to them, it’s best to make sure those you will be celebrating with are aware of your boundary in advance. This way, they are less likely to cross it, and if they do, it will be a lot easier for you to speak up and hold firm.

4. Plan Ahead and Be Open To Change

Yes, there are times when plans can go sideways no matter how well they have been prepared. However, you can help keep yourself sane by creating a loose plan that will help you avoid the last-minute rush. For example, maybe you can plan to go shopping on specific days or write a list of what you need and where you want to get it before heading out the door. This way, you at least have a rough framework for when and how you are going to get all that holiday shopping done. And if that framework needs to be adjusted in the future, then that’s perfectly fine. Just because you have a plan in place doesn’t mean you can’t adjust it.

5. Breathe and Decompress

We know this sounds simple, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season that we forget to slow down, take deep breaths, and decompress. When your mind is racing and your stress levels are rising, be intentional about slowing yourself down. Spend a few minutes taking deep breaths. Step outside for some fresh air. Allow yourself to sit down with a warm drink and a nice book. Taking even five or ten minutes to do something you enjoy can go a long way when it comes to keeping your stress in check this holiday season.
I want to help you thrive this holiday season!  These 5 steps are just some of the many tools I want to provide to you so you can enjoy the holidays while continuing to hit your weight loss goals.

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