It’s that time of year when emotions are high and patience runs very low.  Gifts to buy!  Food to cook!  Pounds to avoid!  Relatives to manage!  How do you survive the pressure of it all?  Here are 5 tips on how I get through the holidays without an emotional or physical hangover.

1) Put the fork down. Whenever I think of the holidays, all I think about is the food.  Am I the only one that thinks this way?  I have so many memories of sitting around the table enjoying a feast, but these marathon family sessions lead to eating with total abandon.  At every meal.  I literally have to remind myself that I’ll most likely eat another meal in the next 3-4 hours, so I shouldn’t eat like it’s my last one.  Eating recklessly only makes me regret it the next day so I try to put the fork down sooner and chug water whenever I can.

2) Stick to a workout routine.  I normally go to the gym 5-6 days a week; it keeps me sane and helps me avoid the dreaded muffin top.  When the holidays approach, I start saying things like,”I deserve a few days off” or “working out is overrated”; I know it’s my own slippery slope.  For example, I recently took a couple of days off in a row from the gym and I actually had thoughts like, “Maybe I don’t even need to workout anymore.  I can just wing it.”  That’s laziness at it’s best!  I know that working out in some shape or form is not only good for my health, it’s good for others’ health as well because I will be more pleasant to be around.

root of joy3) Create a tension release valve.  Holidays are an interesting mix of happiness mixed with starter fluid: you never know when tempers will flare up.  The slightest comment from a relative can set off the calmest of folks (even me).  I try to give myself an out for times when I feel I’m reaching my boiling point.

Do you know that song, “Happy Holidays” by Bing Crosby?  It’s a silent rule around the holidays in my family that before you blow up from a stressful situation, you have to sing the chorus to that song really loud.  It’s a funny warning signal to others in the vicinity and it’s so ridiculous that everyone starts laughing; it always breaks the tension.  For moments of stress that are greater than the song– step into a different room, take a few deep breaths and remind myself it’s just a moment and that moment is passing.

4) Check-in.  I tend to get caught up in getting the perfect gift or making sure the food is just right, so I often forget to enjoy the moment.  I’m so embarrassed when I catch myself obsessing over something like the perfect holiday shoes to match my dress. (But you know what? I give myself a pass because dresses are fun and I like fun.)  As a rule,  I try to check in with myself periodically about how I’m feeling, what my needs are and how I can be more helpful to others.  This awareness helps me stay in the moment and enjoy myself.

5) Go with the flow.  There will be glitches in the plan. Like an oven on the fritz Christmas Day (yup, that’ happened to me).  Or a relative that gets drunk and won’t shut up about why I’m not married (again, a stellar moment).  But you know what?  This is life, things happen out of our control.  Sometimes you just have to let go and let it roll.

The holidays can be nerve-wracking but I try to remember to loosen the grip and enjoy the ride– broken ovens and drunk relatives included.

Happy Holidays!

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