Here we are…it’s the week after Thanksgiving and the stress is mounting already. I can feel it in the air. Can’t you?

I love a good holiday, but this year with added pandemic restrictions and traditions being altered or thrown out altogether, it can add a layer of stress or anxiety that we’ve never had before. Even before all the constraints of the pandemic, the holidays are stressful for many folks, myself included. This can lead to more weight gain than usual.

For many the stress and anxiety is real. The loss of a loved one, being isolated, financial hardships. But for many, some of the stress is self-imposed.  Do you really need to bake dozens of cookies for the neighbors every year or make every gift a craft project?

For me, the holidays are beautiful, but it’s a disruption in my routine. I’ve been going along quite nicely in my work and life, keeping things in some sort of balance. And then BAM! The holidays are here! My schedule is up-ended. That means I’m writing this as much for myself as for you. It doesn’t matter if your Paleo or Keto or Vegan, or anything in between. These tips will help keep you on track.

Here are my 7 concrete and actionable ways to deal with holiday stress.

1. Stick to your workout/activity and nutrition routine as much as possible.

As I said, I don’t like disruption in my routine. As much as possible I will keep my routine stable. Try to go to sleep and wake at the same time as the rest of the year. Keep your workout routine going. Even if your gym is closed because of the pandemic, try a new home workout routine or get outside in the sun to walk. Walking is the best stress reliever. Put your favorite music or podcast on and just go.

 2. Stick to your healthy diet, as much as possible.

I’m going to be realistic and say that an occasional indulgence is ok. Be flexible. If you want that traditional rich and yummy dish that the family always makes, go ahead and indulge…to a point. Then return to your healthy plan with the next meal.

3. Make sleep a priority.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, this throws off your rhythm in multiple ways. According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, not enough sleep (at least 7 hours) can lead to a decreased attention span, depressed feelings, and difficulty processing ideas. Sleep deprivation can also lead to weight gain. We certainly don’t need help in that area during the holidays. Your immune system is also compromised with inadequate sleep. (Don’t let Covid have the upper hand)

4. List your top priorities and stick to them.

Ask yourself “What are the traditions that take up too much of my time and which are the ones I can let go?” and “What would happen if I didn’t do____this year?” and “Could this still be a great holiday if we only did____?” Let your family and friends know that some things just won’t happen this year. Let them know you are taking care of yourself first and just can’t get it all done. The time with a healthy YOU is a much more valuable gift than any tradition.

5. Talk to yourself with compassion and skip the guilt.

Guilt usually comes from our own heads and the stories we tell ourselves: “Grandma and Grandpa will be so disappointed if we don’t make them homemade ornaments this year.” Whether or not it’s true, it’s not your problem. It’s not your job to burn yourself out trying to make other people happy.

Instead of the guilt phrases spinning in your head try “This has been a tough year and I’m doing the best I can. That’s all anyone can expect of me. My family loves me and understands.”

6. Stave off seasonal depression and anxiety.

If you have seasonal affective disorder,  you know who you are. Some people are more susceptible than others. If you typically struggle with it, now is a good time to set up a good foundation. Things that can help include eating a nutrient-dense diet. Depression and anxiety symptoms are linked to a number of nutrient deficiencies and an inadequate gut-brain axis connection. Supplementing with a quality prebiotic/probiotic combination can help immensely. Other nutrient deficiencies can include magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and folate. A good multivitamin and mineral supplement can help here.

Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D can help boost serotonin. Supplements can help fill the gaps, but there is nothing like pure sunshine.  You can kill 2 birds with 1 stone if you go out for a daily walk in the sun.

7. Hire a coach to keep you accountable.

Staying on track, eating right, exercising when you can and setting boundaries for yourself are not for the faint of heart any time of year. But during the holidays are even tougher. Hiring a good coach to hold you accountable and keep you on track will get you to start of the New Year way ahead of the game. A good coach will also hold space for you to have a bad day and be yourself. She may even help you laugh your way through this phase. This could be THE YEAR that you could lose weight before the New Year even starts.

I would love to know your thoughts on how you are coping with the stressors that are coming up for you this time of year.

If you feel you would like some accountability in a group setting, starting in the New Year, check out my Fast Track to Food Freedom class starting January 6, 2021. I’m keeping the class small, with only 10 spots, so you can have a more personal experience. Check it out here:

Register here!

FTFF 1.6.21