Jostling crowds, traffic jams, and shopping lists that grow ever longer. Extra cooking, cleaning, and decorating chores. Winter colds and flu. Travel. A stress level that just about sends you over the edge!
Experts say having realistic expectations is the key to a happier holiday season. Quality exercise, and healthy eating habits can also keep stress at a minimum and help you enjoy your holidays.


Disarm your triggers before they lead to a meltdown:

  • Relationships. These can cause conflict and stress at any time, but tensions are often heightened during the holidays. Family misunderstandings and conflicts can intensify.
  • Finances. Added expenses, travel, food, and entertainment can put a strain on your budget for months to come.
  • Physical demands. Exercise and sleep often take a back seat to extra shopping and socializing, which can leave you wiped out. Exhaustion can lead to stress and illness.


  • Set realistic goals. This is key for keeping expectations reasonable for yourself and
  • Make a budget and stick to it. Financial worries add more stress. Spend only what
    you can afford. Seek out free activities or consider making gifts.
  • Move. Move. Move. Physical activity can help manage stress, weight gain, fatigue, and
    holiday depression.
  • Eat and drink well. Poor food choices, eating too much, or consuming alcohol in excess can leave you feeling run down and susceptible to illness and holiday weight gain.
  • Pace yourself. The holidays are more than one day; spread enjoyable activities
    throughout the entire season.
  • Try to stay in the present. Look forward to the future. Consider what is important in your life and let the holidays be a true reflection of your values. Try to avoid lingering on the negatives and focus on what is positive.
  • Organize your time and save some for yourself. Make a list of important activities.
    Star the activities you cannot do without. Push aside the activities you can do without.
    Delegate, learn to say “no”, and remember your personal time is valuable to your health
    and well-being, too.


Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, boost energy, build your immune system, and help beat seasonal depression!

Making time for exercise can be difficult during the busy holiday season. Writing exercise into your daily planner will help you budget time for it. To save time, skip the trip to the gym and try new exercises at home. Shoot for 20 minutes on the busy days and save longer sessions for event-free days. Involve and inspire others in your quest to be active! For a new twist on old holiday traditions, organize an active holiday gathering or take a family walk after the meal. You will feel better, have more energy, and be more likely to eat smarter.

The Challenge: Food-focused celebrations

• Make socializing, rather than food, the focus of the event.
• Stand far away and with your back to the buffet table.
• Make it a point to learn something new about someone you do not know well.

The Challenge: Tempting, tasty treats

• Eat a little before you go; hunger can undo the best intentions.
• Offer to bring a food dish. Make it a healthy one!
• Pass up the everyday snacks. Spend your calories on the treats you really want.
• Plan how much alcohol you will drink. It loosens inhibitions and contributes to excess calories. Try drinking water in between each drink.

The Challenge:  Too many events

• Practice saying “No, thank you.” It is ok to turn down invitations.
• Do not feel the need to attend every event.

The Challenge: Your goals fall by the wayside

• Plan in advance.
• Seek support from friends and family.
• Rather than planning to lose weight, set goals to maintain weight.


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JC Guidry
Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach, Author and Media Fitness Expert with over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. Has served over 50,000 sessions from one-on-one, semi-private to large group BootCamp classes. Nationally and locally awarded Fitness expert on both ABC & CBS.