The holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, they are filled with anxiety and stress. Sometimes, even for those that love the family get-togethers, the stress of holiday shopping, finances, and hosting relatives can tear them apart. When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you about your life choices the way your family will.
But that’s not healthy and you know it. Plus, you’ll feel even less joy when you realize you’ve undone the whole year’s worth of fitness you’ve worked so hard for. If you find the holidays cause you to gobble down more than you should as a way to cope with the stress, we present to you these 5 ways to stop the stress eating before the first tray of cookies is trotted out to the company break room.
When your boss announces there are no bonus checks this Christmas or your mom says you’re still single because one of your nails on your manicure is chipped, instead of reaching for the holiday goodies, get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit the gym, chase your kids in the yard, or just do something physical that appeals to you. You’ll release the stress and the exercise will help release the proper chemicals in your brain to make you feel better.
Workout your mind
The brain needs exercise too. Instead of letting it harp on the negative things that cause you to stress-eat, give it something constructive to do. Take 10 to 20 minutes to yourself to read something you want to read, work on a crossword puzzle or do something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way. It will help you feel refreshed.
Focus on healthy eating
While it’s true that the holidays are certainly a time for more indulgent meals, when you focus on your healthy eating prior to the big family dinners, it won’t be such a shock to your waistline. Make sure you’re eating meals as you would normally without skipping them. If you starve yourself all day because your job or your family (or both!) is making you nuts, you’re more prone to stuffing yourself at dinner with things that aren’t very healthful.
Yes, there are certainly foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year like holiday cookies and cakes. But again, eating all of them isn’t going to do any good. So indulge mindfully and moderately. If you always look forward to your sister’s famous pecan pie, then focus on eating that when the time comes and say no to treats that aren’t as delicious like boxed cookies.
No one is perfect so if you find you caved in to peer pressure at work and ate treats you promised yourself you wouldn’t, forgive yourself and move on. Make the next thing you eat healthy and get moving on your exercise. But above all, keep your head up because that is the key to getting through the stress of the holiday season.