Tips for Managing Your Stress During the Holidays

Although the holidays can be an exciting and special time of the year, they can also bring about increased levels of stress. Long-distance travelling, preparing for a large party, navigating crowded stores, the increasingly cold temperatures and unforgiving weather can all contribute to heightened anxiety.

In addition to external factors, internal factors such as unrealistic expectations, social anxiety, financial pressure and loss of sleep can also make the holidays more stressful.

Consider the following tips to make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable:

  • Manage expectations—Whether they’re your own or someone else’s, it’s easy to get swept up in the “holiday spirit” and plan for more than can reasonably and healthily be accomplished. Carefully assess what you and others expect of the holiday season, and plan accordingly.
  • Set a budget—The holidays can be an expensive time of year. Plan your budget in advance, and track it so that you don’t overextend yourself.
  • Pace yourself—Only accept responsibilities that you are confident you can manage. Do your best within your limits to prevent overexerting yourself. However, you cannot control everything, so it is also beneficial to plan your coping methods ahead of time to prepare for the event that something goes wrong and you feel stressed or anxious.
  • Stay active—People tend to become less active during the holidays and have many opportunities to eat heartily, which can negatively impact your health and self-image. Staying active can not only help to offset hearty meals, but has also been shown to positively impact stress and depression.
  • Get social—If the holidays tend to be lonely for you, consider picking up a winter group activity or volunteering at a non-profit to surround yourself with like-minded people during the holiday season.

The Hurdles of Holiday Travel

Whether you’re travelling to visit loved ones or looking to escape the cold, holiday traffic is nearly unavoidable. In fact, more people travel during the holidays than during any other time of the year, making holiday travelling not only a chance for a fun getaway, but also a potential headache. To make holiday travel less stressful, here’s how to avoid the most common problems you might run into:

  • High costs—There are many ways to reduce travel costs; set a budget, book at least a month in advance, compare prices, and look for coupons and promotions.
  • Lost luggage—Pack a carry-on full of essentials so that, even if you must check a bag on a flight, you’ll be okay for a few days if your luggage is lost or delayed.
  • Flight changes—Track your flight plans online, or use an app to track your flight information and be notified of any changes that might impact your plans.
  • High traffic—Plan to travel at a less popular time, such as the day of or before a major holiday, or early in the morning before others are awake. Or, pay extra for conveniences such as a larger seat on a plan or early boarding.
  • Confusion or no time to plan—Use a travel agent to do the legwork for you if you’re either too busy or confused on how best to plan your trip.

Eating Healthy During the Holidays

The holidays are often full of opportunities to eat and drink more than usual. While it may be easy to get swept up in the festivities, holiday weight gain is a real phenomenon among adults in Western countries, with holiday weight contributing significantly to annual weight gain—meaning that many people don’t lose the holiday weight that they put on. Fortunately, there are ways to manage your diet during the holidays.

  • Volunteer to bring a healthy dish—When going to a party, offer to bring a healthy dish that you’ll enjoy. Not only will you be helping contribute to the party, but you’ll guarantee there’s something healthy and delicious for you to eat.
  • Drink water—It can be easy to get swept up in the festivities and end up drinking more wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages than you intended to, so try drinking a glass of water in between each beverage. It will fill you up, prevent dehydration and keep you mindful of how much you’ve had to drink.
  • Start with a small plate—Oftentimes what looks like enough food on your plate might end up being too much. Start by taking less than you think you’ll need—you can always go for seconds if you’re still hungry!
  • Eat slowly—It can take your body up to 20 minutes to feel full. This means that you may not feel full until after you’ve already eaten too much. Eating slowly can help your mind keep up with your body and lead you to eating fewer calories overall.

Recipe of the Month – Moose Stew

  • 10 mL canola oil
  • 575 g moose, cubed
  • 2 small onions, cut into large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 L no-salt-added beef broth
  • 5 medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 750 mL mixed vegetables, frozen
  • 2 mL parsley, dried
  • 2 mL thyme, dried
  • 4 bay leaves, dried
  • 5 mL pepper


    1. In a large shallow saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Brown the moose meat and put aside.
    2. Add the onions to the saucepan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Cook about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
    3. Add the moose meat and stir. Add in broth, potatoes, frozen vegetables, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and pepper, and stir. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Remove whole bay leaves before serving.

Makes: 6 servings

Source: Government of Canada

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