10 tips for heading off stress during the holidays

Dec 22, 2010

Wondering if you'll be able to survive the stress of the holidays — the meals, the presents, reliving old times, and all that togetherness?

Hal Barkley, Director of Counseling in SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, says not to panic. You can survive this. Here are some of his tips:

1) Create boundaries. Say you had an embarrassing nickname when you were a kid and your pesky brother keeps bringing it up. What to do? Tell him you're looking forward to seeing him, but you'd appreciate it if he wouldn't call you that, at least not in front of anyone else.

2) Lower your exercise expectations. If you usually work out for an hour a day, be comfortable less.

3) Being alone is OK. Getting away for a while is fine. Do not feel guilty about needing some space and time alone.

"You need to get away, to rediscover yourself, to recharge your batteries," Barkley says. Use his trick: When his mother runs out of buttermilk, he says, "Oh! I'll go get that for you!"

4) You can still love them even if they don't stay with you. You might even find yourselves a bit more enamored of each other.

"Some people bring their own RV or mobile home," he says. "That's where they stay. I always think maybe there's a reason for that. It gives them space. So does staying in a hotel rather than someone's home."

5) Focus on merely maintaining your weight. If you don't gain pounds, consider yourself successful. If you crave some candy, go ahead and have a piece.

6) It's your house; you set the rules. If relatives tend to drink too much, talk to them beforehand, Barkley says: "Confrontation doesn't have to be negative; it can be positive. It can be a setting of expectations."

7) You don't have to eat any more than you want to eat. It's a matter of breaking a pattern. Before the meal, for instance, tell your mother or sister or that favorite relative: "One thing I look forward to is coming here and eating your cooking. But I want you to know that this year, I'm going to try everything but will only have one helping. Don't be surprised if you have to say 'No thank you' several times."

8) Create active traditions. If sliding doesn't fit your climate, consider bowling or going out to look at Christmas lights.

9) Make your meals last a long time. No, not by having those seconds you swore off in No. 7. But by eating dessert after a rousing game or charades or Twister.

10) Channel your frustrations altruistically. If you can't stand another minute – or even long before you reach that point – volunteer. Do it alone, or bring the family along.

Explore further: Childhood friendships crucial in learning to value another person's point of view

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Maintain, don't gain during the holidays

Dec 20, 2007

For many people, the holiday season brings shopping and parties with plenty of delicious food. How do you maintain good eating habits and avoid weight gain when there are so many temptations that can doom even the most disciplined ...

Staying healthy through a cookie-filled season

Dec 22, 2010

Just because Santa’s belly moves like a bowl of jelly doesn't mean yours has to this holiday season. Staying on track with your fitness program, even while traveling, will give you extra energy and start you out right ...

Nutrition model stresses positive experience of eating

Sep 18, 2007

Enjoying the eating process without focus on dietary restrictions may be key to managing weight and staying healthy, according to researchers who have unveiled a new and effective model for managing eating.

Forget dieting over the holidays

Oct 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Changing your focus from dieting to living healthy during the holidays boosts the chances of maintaining your perfect weight.

Recommended for you

What sign language teaches us about the brain

Jul 25, 2014

The world's leading humanoid robot, ASIMO, has recently learnt sign language. The news of this breakthrough came just as I completed Level 1 of British Sign Language (I dare say it took me longer to master signing ...

Why do men prefer nice women?

Jul 25, 2014

People's emotional reactions and desires in initial romantic encounters determine the fate of a potential relationship. Responsiveness may be one of those initial "sparks" necessary to fuel sexual desire and land a second ...

Study reveals how to be socially successful

Jul 25, 2014

Romantic, personal and professional relationships are fraught with danger, but a University of Queensland researcher has found the secret to interacting successfully with others in such settings.

User comments : 0