10 ways to ward off holiday STRESS
Enjoy the light and love of the season instead
As the holidays approach, it’s easy to feel stretched thin and stressed out. Especially when looking ahead at all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, and socializing in the near future.
So, here are 10 tips to help you feel cool, calm, and collected during the hectic holiday season:
- Make a plan. As you look ahead, make a plan for reducing stress. Decide which events you will attend and which you won’t. Remember, you don’t always have to RSVP with a resounding YES. And when it comes to the holiday gatherings you plan to host, map out some event basics ahead of time. Is there anything you can delegate to a family member or a friend? What can be done the day before?
- Simplify your shopping burden. Holiday shopping can really take a toll on you physically, emotionally, and financially. But here again, perhaps you can cut back. Can you simplify the menu for this year’s Thanksgiving feast? Perhaps serve only two sides instead of five. And when it comes to gifts, focus on one meaningful gift for family, friends, and grandkids. Perhaps give an “experience”—such as a trip to a train garden or tickets to a holiday concert—instead of a physical gift they unwrap and soon forget about. Memories tend to last longer than tangible things.
- Create a healthy, relaxing oasis at home. After a big day of shopping in New York, there’s nothing I enjoy more than coming home, putting on some holiday music, and heating up a hearty bowl of soup. But, as always, you do you. Find ways to create a healthy, relaxing oasis in YOUR home—whether that means creating a cozy spot to curl up with a good book… or treating yourself to a nice pair of slippers that you slide into after a long day on your feet.
- Keep up your vitamin regimen. With all the holiday stress, it’s more important than ever to keep up with your daily supplement regiment. Vitamin D is especially important at this time of year—as it provides immune support and helps boost your mood. I recommend 250 mcg (10,000 IU) per day.
- Plan meals to reduce stress. I always recommend meal planning, year-round. Not only does it help you eat healthier, it will also eliminate the stress of putting something together at the last minute. At this time of year, try loading up on all the healthy, fall vegetables—like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, turnips, mustard greens, kale, and sweet potatoes—alongside some lean protein.
- Share your feelings. Everyone is so busy leading up to the holiday season, it’s easy to keep your feelings bottled up. But you’ll feel better by sharing them with others. Chances are, your friends and family are feeling stress too… and talking about it will help.
- Respect your differences. If your family is anything like most families in America, dinner table conversations can get quite heated during big holiday dinners. Especially now, during an election cycle! So, try to respect viewpoints that differ from your own. And focus on your similarities, instead of your differences. When all else fails, games such as “Would You Rather” or “Two Truths, One Lie” make for lively dinner conversation.
- Keep up—or ramp up—your exercise routine. Getting your heart pumping and your body moving are great ways to prepare for the stress of the holidays. For one, exercise floods your system with feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. And, as I explain on page 6, exercising outside is especially beneficial, as it INCREASES your physical and mental vitality by up to 40 percent!1
- Beware of too much “holiday cheer.” It’s no secret that people tend to drink more alcohol during the holidays. But remember—alcohol can actually increase your stress, especially if you fill up on on wine or sweet celebratory cocktails of the season. Instead, opt for sugar-free spirits or mixers in moderation. Think vodka and club soda, with a twist of lime, or a dirty martini without the vermouth. (Cut yourself off after two.)
- Set healthy limits. At the end of the day, you’re only one person, and you can only do so much. So, be realistic with how much you can handle this season. Forget about perfection… try to relax and enjoy the company (and festivities) surrounding you.
My favorite low-carb Thanksgiving dish
On Thanksgiving, it can be difficult to find a healthy, low-carb option to put on your plate next to the sliced turkey. But this green bean casserole fits the bill. It’s festive, delicious… and contains nearly zero carbs.
Green Bean Casserole (Serves 8)
- 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
- 2 tablespoons salted grass-fed butter, divided
- 3 onions, 2 thinly sliced and 1 coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, or more to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath.
Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice bath.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, salt lightly, and cook until browned and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the uncooked, chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, bring the broth and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the broth mixture to the mushroom mixture and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.
Put the beans in a baking dish, add the mushroom mixture, and top with the caramelized onions.
Bake until the onions crisp on the top and the bean mixture is bubbling, about 15 minutes.