HOW TO CALM THE OVERWHELM AND STAY JOYFUL THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

Here's how to keep it all in perspective and calm that overwhelm.

From gift shopping to holiday parties, the final months of the year are often overwhelming. Here’s how to keep it all in perspective and calm that overwhelm.


BY: JANICE CHOW, MS, RD, LDN

Christmas songs playing in Target. Houses in the neighborhood putting up holiday lights. Holiday guides come in the mail everyday. You are constantly reminded that the holidays are just around the corner –

You might be feeling excited to special things happening around, or dreading the extra responsibilities .

With the hustle and bustle, It’s quite easy to feel overwhelmed. There are a couple of reasons why you feel more tired and stressed especially during the holidays:

You’re trying to do too much – Planning meals for parties. Writing holiday cards and sending them to families and friends. Shopping for gifts. Doing crafts with our kids. Cleaning after gatherings – all on top of doing your usual chores. You might be doing a lot at the same time!

You have unrealistic expectations – The holidays increase expectations about how things should be. You hope families and friends will have a great time at your parties with no drama or fights. You may also try to decorate your house Pinterest-perfect or style your dishes such that they are Instagram-worthy.

You’re putting more burden on finances – There is ample pressure to spend on buying gifts during the holidays. As a result, you may not have much money left to get food or other daily essentials. Traveling home for the holidays adds yet another burden on your wallet.

No wonder you’re feeling stressed!

By being mindful that the holidays may bring you a range of emotions, both positive and negative, here’s what you can do to reduce the stress and increase your enjoyment and happiness.

1. Prioritize what is important to you and your family.

Have a honest conversation with your partners and close family members about what traditions are truly meaningful to you all. List them out and carve out time to celebrate them. Delegate tasks among family members to share the workload.

2. Nourish yourself properly.

People tend to skip meals when they know they will have a bigger feast later. However, this will create a vicious cycle of overeating and feeling guilty about over-consumption. To prevent this, pay attention to your hunger cues – when you feel hungry and thirsty, just eat and rehydrate! When your body is nourished properly, it’s easier to respond to cravings.

3. Enjoy the moment with people you love.

Being present with your families and friends doesn’t mean you have to be constantly doing something for them. Use a couple of minutes to think about how you want to be with your loved ones. Is it being a listener? Is it taking a 20-minute walk? Is it baking together? You will make more genuine connections with your loved ones if you visualize and prepare ahead of time.

4. Give yourself some me-time.

Other than completing tasks on your to-do list, remember to make time for yourself to do the things you enjoy. Whether it is exercising, getting a massage, reading a book, having me-time helps you reflect, refocus and regain energy through self-care.

5. Let go of the unknowns.

Sometimes we worry too much about how things should be, and we get disappointed if things don’t turn out the way we expect. Letting go means releasing the overpowering emotions and thoughts that gain control over you.

Try to ask yourself: What are the things I can control (i.e. my feelings, emotions, decisions)?

Why do I feel and react this way? What are other things I am thankful for, despite having a less desirable situation? Once you let go, you will feel more relieved and empowered.

Finally, simply remember what the holidays are all about: spending time with friends and family to celebrate another fruitful year in life.

Let’s be thankful of what we have, and reflect on our achievements and growth this year. Make the holidays meaningful for you and your loved ones through genuine connections, and put stress relief strategies in place to stay calm, joyful and positive.

It only rolls around once a year, so make it a good one!


Janice Chow, MS, RD, LDN is a Chicago-based registered dietitian, food enthusiast, and food photographer with a passion for promoting mind-body wellness to people of all different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. With a focus on helping people suffering from emotional eating and stress-related chronic diseases, Janice empowers individuals to achieve a mindful life. Make a visit to The Mindful Chow.

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