Identifying sources of stress in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas lets you prepare mentally and physically, so they don’t ruin your fun. Do you become stressed in crowds? Let family matters get the best of you? Privately binge and then regret having eaten too many of the overly available holiday cookies and treats? Do you tend to become run down during special events?  Everyone is different, but taking a few minutes to pick some tricks to implement each day can be a gift you give yourself … and those around you with your better mood and delightful example.

Rather than getting overwhelmed with too many choices, I hope you’ll read through the ten listed below, say a quiet Holiday prayer and pick just 3-4 to implement every day. I know you’ll be inspired, as President Nelson has promised, to know the ones that will make a difference for your health and peace.

1.  8 For 8: Drink Eight 8-Ounce Glasses Of Water Each Day. Keep sugary refined drinks or diet soda at an absolute minimum. Adequate hydration for your body will keep your body and mind refreshed and focused.  Fact: As we age, our thirst decreases while our body’s need for water increases.  We don’t even know we’re thirsty! Trick: We can set the timers on our phones to remind us to drink our water throughout the day.

A dear friend has pictures of her grandchildren and special times on her refrigerator. She has lined up eight of them and moves a magnet from photo to photo through the day to keep track of her water. If she isn’t to little Heather’s 1st grade photo  by 2:00 in the afternoon, she knows it’s time to hustle.  Isn’t that great?

2.  Stay Active. Get outside daily or as often as possible for a 15-30 minute brisk walk.  If that’s not possible, then spend that 15-30 minutes on a home or Youtube video workout that raises your heart level.  Dance to holiday music in the kitchen! At a minimum, do some stretching and deep breathing.  Even a 15-30 minute stroll after a meal is far better than doing nothing.

3. Get Enough Light.  While this is another good reason to get outside and walk, sometimes that’s not possible. Limited sun/ day light during winter months can play havoc with moods and emotional balance. If you’re prone to Holidays and winter depression, you may want to spend some time with a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp. SAD is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time each year, usually in the fall or winter. During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms. 

4.  Get Adequate Sleep Every Night! Daytime catnaps also have their place for a lovely and memorable Holiday, but being grouchy and tired does not.  Our bodies and minds need time to recharge. It’s a gift we give ourselves when we have enough sleep and a gift to others when we’re at our best.

5.  Keep Colds and Illness At Bay: Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! Put some holiday hand soap dispensers at every sink in your home and enjoy them!

SPECIAL NOTE: My sister has not had a cold in over five years and recommends the following at the first whisper of a scratchy throat or stuffy nose:

Every two hours for 12-24 hours,  take 1 Ibuprofen and 1 Maximum strength cold and allergy relief capsule. Over-the-counter brands are fine. Just start IMMEDIATELY.

She even carries this in her purse in a zip-lock bag.  What a great idea!!!!

6. Minimize Stress with Psychological Readiness: “If the answer is NO, then let it GO.”

Memorize this question: “Will it matter in ten years?” We’ve all experienced holidays when we’ve spent too much money, time and emotion on things that – in the end – don’t really matter.  When stress and overly optimistic expectations of ourselves and others raise their heads, we can take three deep breaths and ask ourselves “In ten years, will it really matter?”  If the answer is “no,” then let go!

7.  Be Realistic and Consciously Choose Splurges. Eat holiday treats and goodies in the company of others or at selected time and sitting down with your own private delightful company. Consciously decide which foods make it a true holiday and forego “I ate it because it was there” overeating and private bingeing.  Enjoy the holidays and then get back to your routine of healthy eating and exercise. Good news: Your body is resilient and will rebound.

8.  Eat Regular Meals and Don’t Skip Meals:  There’s a price to pay when we’re too busy to eat and/or skip a meal with the goal of saving calories prior to a holiday meal.  Regular meals keep our minds, emotions and bodies balanced! Skipping meals backfires in terms of becoming too hungry, which causes not just overeating, but messes with blood sugar levels that balance our moods. Irregular eating affects digestion and elimination as well.

9.  60-Second Morning Mindfulness: Each morning as you mentally plan your day before getting up, spend 60 seconds to reflect on what is most important to you during the Holidays.  Thinking about what you want for this day of the holiday season will help you choose more intentionally how you spend your precious and limited time.

10.  Halt The HALT:  When we start to feel blue – and that’s a very common thing over the Holidays, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and be harsh on ourselves and/or others.  An outstanding Kindergarten teacher taught me many years ago to ask myself/children/friends/dear ones the HALT question when things began to turn upside down.  Whether it’s a holiday or a regular day.  You can quickly and quietly ask, “Am I ….”

H – ungry
A – ngry
L – onely
T -ired

If so, then HALT and address those needs ASAP.  Whether you’re a Kindergartner or a senior citizen, a healthy snack, nap, prayer and/or quick chat with your best listener can do wonders immediately!

Here’s A Bonus! 

11.  The Serenity Prayer With A Christmas Hug For Yourself:

These are difficult times for everyone. Each of us has our own heartaches that often make the Holidays and its very days, events and hours, extremely challenging.  In truth, there is much we can do for ourselves and others, and just as much that we cannot do.  This beautiful prayer can make an instant difference to benefit our emotions, relationships and choices.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Yes, it IS the hap-hap-happiest time of the year! With all the love in my heart for you and those in my own life, I hope we will choose three or four of the above eleven things to create beautiful holidays and marvelous memories worth remembering!

Merry Christmas and may each of you have the healthiest, happiest holidays ever!

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She loves to provide mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999.  She has presented for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox.