Avoiding Holiday Stress

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Joan Lunden

Holiday /

For many of us, the holiday season brings gift-giving, parties, family, sharing memories, food & drink… these are all good things, right?!  Well for many, holiday cheer can also bring stress, putting on weight, maybe some awkward moments, navigating family dynamics, perhaps even drinking too much...  So how do we manage all of these potential speed bumps and still have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year?  I have compiled some of my favorite holiday tips that help me have a successful holiday season! 

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Eating around the holidays

Let me start by saying this:  I love holiday food.  I love pumpkin pie, I love turkey and stuffing and eggnog and gravy.  So it is important to me to keep myself in check around this time of year.  Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way that allow me to celebrate without going overboard. 

  • I know we’ve all heard this before – but do you actually do it?  Eat before you go to a party!  I am telling you it works.  When you know ahead of time that you’re going to be in a scenario filled with hors d'oeuvres and treats, make a point to have a substantial snack or even a light meal before you go.  Try to fill up on veggies or protein, this way you won’t be starving by the time the tray of cheese puffs pass you by.  And not to mention, sometimes you CAN’T eat when you’re chatting with the boss’s wife, so being prepared is always a good thing.  Not sure which snacks are best?  Try taking this WebMD quiz to learn about the worst offenders of the season! 
  • This is a silly trick that can really work – while at a cocktail party, hold your drink in your dominant hand (for me, that’s my right hand) and maybe even fill up your other hand with a healthy option like anything colorful from the veggie plate.  This way, you literally CAN’T take the fatty (albeit yummy) snacks as they walk by you.  
  • When your over-achieving cousin starts interrogating you about your “decision to stay at home with the kids,” don’t bury your emotions in mashed potatoes – because those will still be with you tomorrow morning while cousin know-it-all will be long-gone till next year!
Holiday cocktails

Drinking around the holidays

For some people, alcohol seems to be a friend to them around the holidays, easing the stress or calming the nerves.  But this can be a slippery slope when surrounded by booze, bosses, and extended family.  Just remember that there are always people around you who are sober and will remember EVERYTHING that goes on!

  • Company holiday parties can be a lot of fun, socializing with your co-workers and showing off your sparkly dress makes for a healthy break in the day-to-day grind.  But often, this particular event leads to drinking too much and sometimes even next-day regrets. My advice – save the loud crazy nights for your best friends, the people who will love you even if you trip over your own feet or tell stories too loudly, it’s always best to keep that side of you AWAY from the people who can fire you!
  • Set up a buddy system with a close friend to keep each other in check.  Use bathroom breaks as a breather from the energy of the party, and a time to check into reality.  One rule: you can’t get upset when she suggests you switch to water!  You might thank her when you’re up for that big promotion next week! 
  • Alcohol can not only leave you with a headache the next day, but it can also send you to the gym. Your cocktail can be a secret source of calories that you don’t even think about.  My tip is to get a white wine spritzer – ask the bartender to do half wine and half club soda & add a couple of lemons or limes, it’s refreshing and bubbly, you can have more of them, and it won’t leave you regretful the next day.
Holiday shopping

Budgeting around the holidays

Don’t let this holiday season send you into debt, here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years and save me from post-holiday debt!

  • Create a holiday gift budget… and stick to it.  Don’t just walk into the mall and start purchasing.  Sit down ahead of time, make a list of everyone you want to buy for, and write down a total dollar amount that you feel comfortable spending this season.  Then take that number and allot a budget to each person on your list.  Sticking to this list will make you feel comfortable and proud at the end of the year.  Just remember to throw the list away before anyone see’s it!
  • Pre-arrange a spending limit with your family on what is appropriate to spend on the kids.  This can really take the pressure off so you don’t end up feeling like the deadbeat aunt or the show-off cousin when the kids rip open your gift.   
  • Right after the holidays, stores usually put hot-ticket items on sale since everyone has already done their shopping.  After the season is a great time to pick up things that you can put away and give as gifts next year!  Items such as scarves, hats, decorative home items, small seasonal stocking stuffers, you might call me crazy – but I promise you’ll thank me next year!  

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks that have helped you get through your holiday season!  I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful, stress-free holiday season filled with laughter, fun, family, and togetherness!

Categories: Holiday
About The Author
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Joan Lunden truly exemplifies today’s modern working woman. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, one of America’s most recognized and trusted television personalities, this mom of seven continues to do it all. As host of Good Morning America for nearly two decades, Lunden brought insight to top issues for millions of Americans each day. The longest running host ever on early morning television, Lunden reported from 26 countries, covered 4 presidents and 5 Olympics and kept Americans up to date on how to care for their homes, their families and themselves.

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