4 Tips for Stress-Free Holidays

Well it's the end of November and the holidays are around the corner. For most of us, this is one of the busiest times of year. This year, while the pandemic may impact the scope of our activities, it won't take away how busy it is for most of us are or the fact that there is a lot of stress (and even more so this year) associated with this time of year.

That is why, it's important to take some time now to get prepared and make a plan so you can reduce your stress and increase your overall enjoyment of the holidays. It takes a bit of effort now but by making a plan you will be able to sail through the holidays without all the added stress.

A good part of this plan includes taking care of YOU.

It's funny, when life gets hectic, one of the first things that often gets dumped from our to-do lists is our self-care routine. This is especially true of women who,  more often than not, tend to take on the responsibility of taking care of others - often at the expense of taking care of themselves.

And when we don't take care of ourselves, not only does our health suffer but so does our overall wellness. You know the adage that you can't pour from an empty cup, well that couldn't be more true all year long and most especially throughout the holidays.

I know from personal experience, just how true this is. I remember years where I spent all my 'free time' shopping, baking, enertaining, wrapping gifts ... and working myself into exhaustion. By the time Christmas came, I was exhausted, stressed and all too often, sick. Many holidays were a blur that I never really enjoyed because throughout the time leading up to them, I didn't take the time to take care of my own health and wellness. It's a key reason why today, I approach the holidays differently - and why I recommend my clients put themselves at the top of their priority list.

If you're tired of always feeling tired, stressed and feeling overwhelmed throughout the holidays, here are a few tips to help you change that:

Make a Simple Meal Plan Each Week

During the holdiays, when time is at a premium, it can feel too overwhelming to try and eat healthy meals. This often can result in too many on-the-go meals, fast food and take-out meals. Not to mention all the holiday treats which are notoriously high in salt, fat and sugar - all of which just leave you feeling bloated and blah.

More importantly however, eating a lot of sugary foods affects the good bacteria in your gut (the bacteria which helps you fight off cold and flu viruses) which obviously can have a negative impact on your immune system.

That's why I recommend creating a habit of making a simple meal plan every week. Not only does that help reduce the stress of "What's for dinner" every night but it helps save you money on all that fast food or take-out meals. 

This one simple step is perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure you eat healthy all month long (and beyond). When you have a plan for what you're going to eat, you can prep meals ahead, make healthy snacks, delegate meal prepping tasks to other family members and make it possible to eat healthy all month long.

So what are some easy healthy meals that you can throw together? Some of my favourites include turkey burgers with roasted veggies, sheet pan dinners (where you can literally toss any veggies + protein together) and slow cooker chili. 

If you're looking for some easy recipes to make your dinner time stress-free, be sure to grab my free one-dish dinner recipes that includes a dozen of my favourites which are delicious & easy to prepare. 

Schedule your Exercise Time

I know it can feel like continuing to workout during the holidays is overwhelming but exercise is one of those activities which keep your immune system healthy and happy. This is why I encourage you to get in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise - like a brisk walk - most days of the week.

Studies show that women who walked for half an hour a day had 50% fewer colds than those who didn't. That's because regular walking appears to lead to having more infection-fighting white blood cells.

Not only that, but exercise can help you fight stress. Working out helps your body release more feel-good, mood-boosting hormones which will help you make it through the holiday season feeling healthy and happy.

Make a list (and delegate)

When you have a hectic holiday schedule, it's important to start planning now so that you can do as much as possible, ahead of time. Leaving things to the last minute and running around like a crazy person is a recipe for feeling stressed out and missing out on being present with the people in your life who matter.

So make a checklist now, of everything you have to do. I strongly recommend Trello as a resource where you can create to-do lists, gift wish lists and share them with people in your circle. This enables you to delegate and share the responsibilities so one person doesn't feel overwhelmed.

Plan some Self Care (and relax!)

It's easy to forget about our mental health during the holidays but it's so important - especially now - to plan self care activities into our week. Self care looks different for everyone, the caveat being that they should enable you to relax and unwind.

For me, self care is a combination of things. It involves meditation in the mornings during my quick morning routine and consistent workouts during the week. It's the hot bath I take with a good book and a glass of wine and it's the movie night where I hang out with my guys and disconnect from the world. Regardless of the time of year, I make the time for self care activities every week and strongly advocate that you do as well.

When you feel good mentally, it allows you to be present during the holidays and enjoy spending time with family and friends. It enables you to truly be present so that you can make the most of the time you spend together.

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