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The holiday season is a time of mixed emotions for everyone. For some people, it is their favorite time of year. For others, it can be somber, often bringing up feelings of sadness or loss. Seeing family and old friends can be exciting or maddening, and feeling depressed or anxious is not uncommon during the holiday season. Social events can cause a lot of stress, which intensifies for those who are going through financial hardship, loss of a loved one, or live very far from family and cannot be with them over the holidays. How do we survive these feelings? Here are a few tips to help you feel less stressed and anxious during the holidays.
While it’s okay to allow yourself a little indulgence here and there, especially with all the holiday desserts everywhere, keeping your usual health routine can help you avoid extra stress. Exercise regularly, do the work you’re used to doing and stick to a balanced diet as much as possible.
Too much sugar or junk has been known to worsen feelings of sadness and depression, so keep that in mind when attending social gatherings during the holidays. Excess food and alcohol can temporarily help you feel better during holiday gatherings, but later on, they usually end up making you feel worse. If you know you’re heading out to a gathering where food will be involved, eat a healthy snack beforehand, ideally something with a balance of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Even a pre-party smoothie in your NutriBullet can prevent you from overindulging when you’re out and about. Try a nutritious smoothie made with unsweetened almond milk, frozen banana, spinach, a handful of frozen berries and a heaping tablespoon of your favorite nut butter or any of these recipes.
Spend time with your friends and family who value you. Pay less attention to social media posts and focus on the people and events around you. And if you do need to connect with someone you’re unable to see in person, pick up the phone and give them a call.
Since it’s the season of giving, consider volunteering in a soup kitchen or somewhere with children or the elderly. If you’re feeling lonely, this gives you the chance to meet and talk to new people. They’ll appreciate your help and you’ll feel good knowing that you did some good. It also doesn’t hurt to donate canned foods, toys or clothing, which can bring some joy to someone less fortunate.
If the holidays have you down, pamper yourself. Do things that make you feel good whether that’s getting a massage, taking a walk, or spending time alone if that’s what you want to do. This is your holiday too, and if you can’t be there for yourself and take care of your own personal needs, you won’t be much good for your loved ones.
Regardless of what the holidays mean to you, it’s important to take care of yourself first, both physically and mentally. By maintaining healthy habits, helping others and helping yourself, you can make the holiday season less stressful and more cheerful.
Carrie Gabriel studied nutrition at California State University-Los Angeles and got her RDN through the Coordinated Dietetics Program there. She works as a dietitian for different corporate wellness companies, creating recipes for cooking demos and content for nutrition seminars.
She created her company, Steps2Nutrition, in 2012 in hopes of working more one on one with busy professionals and their specific nutritional needs. She has an advanced certification in weight management and specializes in gluten and dairy free meal preparation for various clients.
You can find some of Carrie’s healthy and delicious recipes and meal tips on her website, www.steps2nutrition.com, and on her Instagram and Twitter account, @steps2nutrition.