Harpers Ferry

Holiday Stress and How to Alleviate It

I’m gonna suck at it less this year!. For many, holiday stress can suck all the joy out of the season.  Holiday travel. Hosting parties. Going to more parties in a month than you do the rest of the year combined. Trying to make Christmas perfect for your kids. And then the rest of your […]

I’m gonna suck at it less this year!.

For many, holiday stress can suck all the joy out of the season.  Holiday travel. Hosting parties. Going to more parties in a month than you do the rest of the year combined. Trying to make Christmas perfect for your kids. And then the rest of your usual crazy life on top of all of that.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are a few simple shifts in perspective that can lower holiday stress and make starting this new year much easier.

Does either of the following statements sound like you?

There’s so much going on right now that you don’t prioritize your own rest, nutrition, or exercise.  You can’t let anyone else down, so you let yourself down.  That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for right?  You can’t be on your diet or get to the gym so you go completely off the rails, unable to prioritize yourself.  But you tell yourself that come January 2nd you’ll start taking care of yourself again.


Even with all of the extra obligations and stress like staying up late wrapping Christmas presents or getting ready for the family to come over. You still get up and go to the gym and hammer through your high-intensity workout.  You work all day, go to that holiday party, and because you had some cocktails or a dessert maybe you restrict your calories more the next few days even though you’ve gone another night without proper sleep.  

With the first option You are giving in to all the less-than-healthy behaviors and cutting out any activity that would help to negate the negative side effects of those decisions leaving you with a lot more work to do come the new year.

With the second option You’ve taken on more stress and diminished your sleep. And started to run yourself into the ground by turning your normally good diet and exercise habits into a liability.

Here are some more rational suggestions to help alleviate holiday stress:

If you didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night, don’t go to the gym, instead spend 10 minutes:

  • *Stretching.  Do it while you are still in bed. Try pulling your shins to your nose, twisting, doing a little Cobra, sit in as close to a full squat as you can get for 30 seconds. Grab your feet and try to straighten your legs wide while laying on your back or sitting on your butt and do some slow full neck circles.
  • *Going for a walk.  Focus on your breath, your mind will start to wonder, then just bring it back to focusing on your breath. Take deep breaths, hold for a few seconds and exhale fully and hold for a few seconds, notice if your shoulders, back, neck or chest feel tight (I bet they do), open your mouth wide like you are yawning, stick your tongue out as far as it will go, don’t worry, your neighbors already think you’re crazy.
  • *Doing nothing.  Find a quiet place, bring your coffee, tea, or bone broth and enjoy having absolutely no expectations of yourself.  If this is extremely difficult, just do it for a minute. Then read or watch some light and fluffy fiction (not the news or a self-improvement book).

Do you have 20 or 30 minutes?  Do all 3. You will be calmer, more focused, and more productive throughout the day, which will result in a more resilient immune system.  If you are in a slump and finding it difficult to get motivated, take this baby step to get you feeling better.

Feel like you’re just too busy to eat well?

  • *Check out my free pdf 35+ Easy Meals and Snacks for a wealth of ideas requiring little to no time.
  • *When you are out or at family functions, enjoy the things you really love and don’t feel bad about it.  Pass on the rest of it. Either opt for ordering or grabbing the plain food (just meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, cheese and add salt, pepper, butter, olive oil, and lemon if they need more seasoning) and skip the sauces, dips and elaborate dishes or make sure you eat something nutrient-dense before you go so you don’t show up to these places super hungry and more likely to make poor decisions.
  • *You are going to eat things that are not the most ideal choices and that’s okay. Enjoy them but just because you can’t eat pristinely for 3 square a day doesn’t mean you can’t make your best attempt at 2 or even 1 large meal and intermittent fast when you are too busy to eat anyway.

Stack the deck. Here are some tricks and ideas to help mitigate some of the holiday stress of the season:

  • *When taking on more obligations, really consider what is worth the cost of you spending months trying to get back on track. (Yes months, whether it’s gaining extra weight, getting a bad cold or flu, and missing a whole week of getting things done or as so many of us are dealing with now, an autoimmune flare or having your thyroid tank).  It’s these little decisions that might disappoint a few people now but will contribute to you not being on multiple medications later in life and dying from chronic illness.  Saying no to some things now can mean saying yes to your longevity.
  • Looking into some different supplements to get you through this time of year can be a great idea as long as you keep in mind that it’s not meant to be a permanent fix. 

Some supplements to consider:

  • *Most people are deficient in Magnesium. And the more demand you put on your body the faster your body will burn through essential nutrients. Magnesium is a co-factor in over 300 functions in the body. Some of the biggies are sleep, digestion, and joint health.  
  • *Holy Basil or Tulsi is an adaptogen. (Which is a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes, not ramp up or suppress so these are generally safe to take especially for short periods of time) that really helps with stress, anxiety, and sleep.  
  • *Vitamin D. Especially when it’s cold and gloomy outside and you are burning the candle at both ends is likely to be low and also necessary for so many aspects of proper functioning.  Consult your recent blood work or work with a doctor or practitioner to figure out proper dosing.  Of course, getting out in the sun for 15 minutes a day without sunscreen is the most optimal and efficient form of vitamin D but, when it’s just not possible, find the next best option.

I’m talking to myself as much as anyone else.

A few years back I knew what I was doing. I was headed for a health crash. But just kept pushing and pushing even after the holidays were over (this is more like my default setting for me than a seasonal issue).  My thyroid tanked. I had horrible anxiety, and my hair was falling out. I had to spend a few months doing very little other than resting, eating extra carbs, and putting on some extra weight (which is fine because it was what my body does to protect itself, chances are yours does too) before I could start ramping back up to normal function.  

It’s happened over and over and every time the recovery takes longer and longer.  

But, I’m gonna suck at it less this year!

Progress is progress after all.

Jessie Faber

Functional Health Practitioner, Researcher, Writer, Lifestyle Design Experiment, World Traveler, and Nomad.

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