The upcoming Christmas holiday has Important social, cultural, and religious functions. For people of all faiths (and none), the Christmas holidays bring people and families together to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the next.
The holiday season can often bring Hard to pass up foods – unwanted guests – stress and depression. And it’s no wonder. The holidays often present a crazy amount of demands – cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, to name just a few.
But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress holidays and food bring. You may even enjoy the holidays more than you thought you would, so give these holiday food-stress and depression-prevention tips a try!
When stress is at its highest, It’s hard to stop and regroup. You want to try and prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
Focus on the Holiday Spirit
This holiday, forget your food woes and remember the reason for the season. As cliche as it sounds, focusing on your values and family holiday traditions can help you develop a positive state of mind. Nostalgia, or sentimentally reflecting on the past, may make people more optimistic about the future.
So instead of counting calories, recount special memories with your family and childhood friends. Regardless of your diet’s status, this can help you head into the new year with confidence.
Turn Anxiety Into Something Meaningful
The media often portrays the holidays as a dreaded obligation, but they’re also beneficial for your health. Connecting with friends and loved ones – as long as they’re a supportive bunch – inspires a sense of community and belonging. When we feel cared for and valued, it boosts our confidence and resilience.
These interactions are so meaningful in preserving family traditions and culture. Studies have shown that interactive learning and storytelling are valuable teaching tools for continuing generational knowledge, so get in the kitchen and help grandma with her special holiday treat recipes.
Have Compassion for Yourself
Turning down large portions of your favorite foods – especially those loaded with addictive sugars and caffeine – takes a lot of willpower. Give yourself some credit for prioritizing your health, and if you slip up over a cup of eggnog or slice of pie, cut yourself some slack.
Being more compassionate with yourself can help improve your resilience to stress and decrease anxiety.
Don’t Consider Anything Off-Limits
Unless you have a medical restriction, or if your weight loss plan includes a list of banned or off-limit foods, you might be a doomed dieter. Human nature dictates that we want the things we can’t have.
Instead of obsessing over food, devise a plan to balance your choices and focus on moderation instead of restriction.
A Little Bit of Everything Never Hurt
While it’s never a good idea to overeat, it’s ok to sample a little bit of everything to satisfy carvings. The odds are that no one else at the table is restricting their holiday food intake, and you’re creating a barrier to connecting over these nostalgic flavors and rituals.
Food restrictions limit our ability to bond with others and increase feelings of loneliness and anxiety. After dinner, grab a dessert plate and help yourself to a few carbs and conversations.
Make Realistic Choices
Setting unrealistic goals may pressure you to be less honest about diet slip-ups during the holidays. Many people lie about poor holiday eating habits to protect themselves from negative perceptions and depression.
It may seem like no harm, but studies have shown that people who lie about health habits during holidays may be more susceptible to social pressure surrounding other activities. Don’t kid yourself or others about your habits. Own up to your choices and pass on the side of guilt.
Remember. You aren’t obligated to explain your health-related decisions to anyone – “Thanks for your concern, but I’d rather not discuss that” is a totally acceptable response.
Be Comfortable Saying No
Food-related stress isn’t always self-inflicted. Family members can be aggressive when pushing food into reluctant partygoers. A situation like this is the perfect opportunity to practice saying “NO” politely and with conviction. A lighthearted joke could ease your tone with a cousin, while a polite “No, thank you” is more appropriate for an aunt.
Before losing your “cool” remember that some people project their fears and insecurities onto others. Remind them that they have excellent taste and insist that they enjoy another helping themselves.
For more holiday food-stress and depression-prevention tips visit From Doctor to Patient