How to Handle Holiday Stress without Emotional Eating

7 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress Eating

Holidays make you stressed? Learn how to de-stress and not let food be your first choice.

Holidays are full of wonderful celebrations and memorable moments. You get to spend precious time with family and friends, creating memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime. However, the holidays aren’t all candy canes and sparkly lights. Dealing with the stress that comes from several directions can lead to emotional eating and often leaves a sense of fatigue and regret.

 

Because most people engage in gift giving during the holiday season, there is an added financial burden that can make it harder than ever to pay your regular bills while still bringing smiles to the faces you love with presents wrapped in pretty bows. In fact, even if you don’t hand out a lot of gifts, the costs can still add up if you entertain or buy food or wine to take to holiday parties.

 

To make matters worse, the family that you love dearly has the ability to get about as far under your skin as they possibly can. Your house may be crowded with guests or family home from school, and that can add to your stress level, especially with your need to take care of everyone.  Even if you have your holiday budget under control, the one thing you know you’ll never control is family!

 

So, how do you survive stressors like these without constantly going to the fridge or cupboard in search of solace? Here are a few solutions:

 

  • Know Your Triggers. You can’t begin to prepare for dealing with your stressors if you don’t first realize what they are. Take a few minutes before entering the holiday season and create a list of the situations that generally make you want to eat, whether it is your uncle’s sarcastic remarks or that sinking feeling that your income isn’t going to cover your additional expenses. Try to be as inclusive as possible because the fewer surprises you come across, the less likely it is that you will find yourself in a situation where you mindlessly (or purposefully!) reach for food.

     
  • Create Alternatives. Now that you understand the events that lead you to want to overeat, one of the things you can do is create alternatives. These are ways to handle the things that bother you without using food. For example, if you normally reach for cookies when you get home from spending your entire paycheck on gifts for others, think of ways to deal with that stress that will attack the stressor specifically (and don’t involve eating). Some options for easing financial stress may include thinking of ways to raise additional income via working a part-time job, selling things you don’t use, or searching out some great deals online.

     
  • Keep Your Goals In Front of You. Because the temptation to emotionally eat is generally greater this time of year, you’ll want to keep your goals in front of you so that you don’t give up on what it is you truly want in the long run. Create a vision board with pictures and sayings that motivate you. Put up sticky notes in places you visit often (like the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator) that have your goals written on them. Goals are like anything else in life; out of sight, out of mind. Therefore, you’re going to want to keep them in your sight. It really works, so try it.

     
  • Visualize Yourself Making Good Choices. One way to train your brain to make healthy choices is through visualization. If you imagine yourself making healthy choices despite the stress, then that is likely what you will do when stressful situations arise. This is the same method that first responders and world renowned athletes use to be the best at what they do, and it offers you the same sort of success. Just think of times when you normally make not so healthy choices and envision making good choices instead. Repeat this over and over again with each scenario and making good decisions will become second nature.

     
  • Exercise Every Morning, Even a Little. Not only does daily exercise help counteract some of the additional calories you’re likely to eat with all of the homemade treats and dishes that abound most holiday tables, but starting your day with a dose of physical exercise, even if it’s just 15 minutes, will make it easier to sideline the stressors that are usually prevalent this time of year. Besides, you’ll be less inclined to negate your workout by popping cookies in your mouth, so you’ll make better choices throughout the day.

     
  • Set Smaller Goals. Although you may normally set some pretty hefty goals, attempting to continue losing weight during the holidays, you might want to scale them back a bit. Sometimes it is better to maintain your current weight than it is to try to achieve unrealistic results and risk sliding backward if you don’t meet your goals.

     
  • Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself. Because most of the holidays are centered around doing for others, you must make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. Take time to decompress so that you don’t find yourself exploding from all of the other stressors around you.  Carve out some quiet time or getting lost in a good book. Find something you enjoy and do it – anything to let your mind wander away from your stress.

 

Handling holiday stress isn’t always easy, especially when it is coming from so many different directions. However, use these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to a December that is relaxing and even fun, not to mention one that won’t increase your waistline, which is an added bonus!

 

 

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