Avoid Holiday Stress

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • I love the holidays, especially the winter holidays. The leaves changing color, the chill in the air, the smell of fresh nuts roasting and pumpkin lattes (that's relatively new) and the thought that I am going to be with family for celebrations. Sounds like bliss, and it is for most of us, but the holidays can also be fraught with stress and tension and high standards that we set for our cooking and entertaining skills. Certainly, getting together with certain family members we don't get along with or downright dislike can be quite stressful and downright upsetting.


    And if you are lucky enough to have the "house everyone comes to," then the task of having to prepare endless family meals and stay-over guests can be quite overwhelming and at times, debilitating. So how do you balance the spirit and joy of the holiday season with the pressure, stress and anxiety that can be instigated?

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    Here is a list of "dos and don'ts" to help you enjoy the holiday while maintaining your sanity and your health:


    • First and foremost holiday is a time of giving and sharing special times with people we sometimes don't see very often. Earning an "A" in cooking and entertaining should not be the singular and most important goal, so make sure your priorities are reasonable and forgiving.
    • You do need to decide if a certain family member is merely unpleasant to be around or toxic to your emotional state. If you struggle to cope in their presence, you may have to take a stand and leave them off your guest list. A different approach is to warn some close family members ahead of time to simply keep this person occupied so that you have little if any personal interaction.
    • This is certainly a time to break out special recipes and create special food moments, but be willing to ask for help and delegate so you don't become overwhelmed with the cooking responsibilities.
    • Remember to make sure you get some "me time" to unwind and relax. Also make sure that during these parties or celebrations you find time to enjoy your company.
    • Don't forget to get enough sleep, to fit in some daily fitness and to literally "get outside." You need to take care of your health, particularly when you are devoting hours to cooking and entertaining, in addition to all of your regular responsibilities.
    • Create boundaries for yourself - decide how many hours a day you are willing to devote to your entertaining and to your houseguests. Don't cringe at the thought of relinquishing some duties and giving assignments to your houseguests. If people offer to help, let them help. You are no less stellar an entertainer and cook if you allow people to pitch in and help.
    • Ask about food preferences ahead of time so you are not surprised or suddenly stressed to accommodate a guest who has certain dietary needs. Someone may have recently developed diabetes or hypertension or become a vegetarian, so forewarned is forearmed.

    Finally, remember that perfection is a state of your mind. Your family and friends just want to be together creating new memories and sharing old times- the food and decorations are additional pleasures. Pace yourself and remember that the holidays are just a short span of time. Most of us do rise to the occasion and do just fine. If you do feel that you are feeling overly stressed or anxious, then do seek help form a health professional.

Published On: November 04, 2009