Manage Seasonal Stress and Defend against Weight Gain

Tips for managing seasonal stress and defending against weight gain

Seasonal stress is the #1 culprit of weight gain, illness, and fatigue this time of year. It’s the arch nemesis of the “magic” that everyone talks about when November and December roll around. While we’d like to focus our attention on more meaningful things, stress during this time of year can make all of that fly out the window.

In fact, research from the American Psychological Association reveals some not-so-merry statistics about holiday stress and what causes it:

  • Up to 69 percent of people are stressed about “not having enough time”
  • Up to 69 percent are stressed about finances
  • Up to 51 percent are stressed about gift-giving

Tips to Combat Seasonal Stress

Prolonged stress can zap the “jolly” out of anyone. Consider these tips for sweeping stress out the front door and keeping your health a priority:

Switch-up Old “Traditions”

Traditions don’t have to stay the exact same. If you’re usually the one to host for the holidays, ask everyone to contribute a new dish to the table this year. This way, you won’t be saddled with a bunch of dinner prep. Encourage them to take home their dish containers too, or even suggest using disposable ones.

On the flip side, consider asking a loved one if they are interested in hosting this year. It’s a great option for people who love having people over but don’t have the time or energy to do it regularly. Or, if constant nights out on the town are a source of stress, swap out a night out for an evening in. Bake some cookies, watch a new movie or listen to old records.

Spread-out Family Visits

As we age and start new families of our own, it’s common to feel like the holidays stretch you thin. Rather than choosing one weekend to visit your grandparents, then your brothers/sisters and then your aunts, uncles and cousins, divide up your time. Stretch out your visitations during the entire holiday season. You can also advocate to have everyone meet-up at once, or even forego a few visits just to preserve your energy.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise of all kinds not only burns calories, but releases mood-boosting endorphins. Kick holiday stress to the curb by moving. Try walking the neighborhood to see Christmas lights or get outside for a snow fight. Go ice skating, shovel the snow in your driveway or even go on a cold weather hike. Exercise will keep you energized and feeling your best!

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Munch on Healthy Holiday Goods

Too much “indulgence” can lead to sluggishness and feelings of guilt. These feelings are usually amplified if you struggle to manage your weight. Instead of a bunch of sweet treats, try snacking on some festive healthy goodies:

  • Red and green grapes and assorted berries
  • Whole grain crackers with cranberry cheese
  • Apple and cinnamon oatmeal
  • Veggies with low-fat dip
  • Swapping out calorie-heavy, full-fat ingredients
Don’t Isolate Yourself

The holidays can be rough if you struggle with mood disorders or if you’ve lost a loved one. It may be tempting to keep to yourself, but try to get a little social if you can. If you’re feeling left out, there are plenty of places to see holiday lights, eat good food and listen to upbeat music. There are most likely other people feeling the same way too.

Don’t Bust Your Wallet

Take stock of what you’re comfortably able to spend on gifts, food and decor this holiday season. Set a budget and don’t stray from it, regardless of any pressure you feel. Remember that most people are content with small and meaningful gifts, or even just your company. You shouldn’t go into debt or stretch your wallet thin just from buying holiday gifts.

Final Words of Wisdom

Finally, take time to remember what this season is really all about:

  • Reflect on what you are grateful for
  • Gather together to enjoy time with your loved ones
  • Look forward to the promises the New Year brings

Let those reminders EXCITE you, not stress you out!

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