Surviving Holiday Stress: The Power to Choose in Five Easy Steps
By Dr. Pete Sulack
Stress expert, writer and speaker, Dr. Pete Sulack is the founder of Exodus Chiropractic and Unhealthy Anonymous – a wellness support program that provides tools for healthier living.
Choose not to host the holidays.
- Give yourself permission to take a pass this year, even if you’ve always done it…especially if you’ve always done it. Instead, consider helping with smaller tasks – offer to help clean up or even host next year when there is time to plan and prioritize.
- Tell your family that in order to take care of yourself and live longer to serve them, you must keep the stress to a minimum in your life.
- Don’t feel guilty if you choose this option, and don’t make excuses. You are worth it!
Choose to delegate.
- Oftentimes it is easier to do things ourselves than to watch someone else muddle through them – but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your general sanity and health.
- Delegating requires letting go of control a bit. While it might be uncomfortable for some, it must be done if others are to step up. If the turkey isn’t Hallmark-holiday-perfect or the tree isn’t decorated the way you would do it, who cares? Everyone will live, and the earth will go on spinning. Take a deep breath, and let it go.
Choose to sit at the “kids’ table.”
- This sounds silly, but actually it works. Kids are much less judgmental about what you are eating, how slowly you eat, or if you are eating at all. They don’t care – people don’t become “food pushers” until later in life.
- Chances are you will never get into an argument about politics, religion, or old family history at the kids’ table. You may have to learn more about “Power Rangers Megaforce” than you wanted, but it will give you a chance to enjoy a lighter, more carefree side of the holidays.
- No one will be drinking alcohol at the kids’ table, so there is a good chance the conversation will remain civilized. Enough said.
Choose to remove yourself from dangerous situations.
- If you are going to someone’s home for the holidays, consider staying in a nearby hotel (if you can afford it) so that you have somewhere to retreat if the situation gets stressful. You’ll also be able to stock the mini-fridge with safe, health snacks and foods.
- Most hotels have workout facilities so you can start or end your day with a few minutes of aerobic exercise. If they have a pool or hot tub? Even better.
- Take your own car, even if it means more money in gas. That way you can volunteer to make those last minute trips to the store that get you out of the house – and allow you quiet time to breathe, relax, and regain your mindfulness. Use that time to think about how you will handle potential challenges and conflicts when you return.
Choose to initiate activity.
- Take a walk after a big meal, and invite others to join you. Everyone will benefit from the fresh air and exercise.
- Instead of being glued to the couch watching television, choose to grab the kids and shoot a few hoops or initiate a game of hide-and-seek. Even breaking out a board game will usually bring the young-at-heart to the table and away from the couch.
- Offer to walk the dog. It gets you some fresh air and exercise, as well as time alone to get centered and remain focused on your goal of getting through the holidays in a healthier, happier manner.