Holiday Challenge Week 5

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Holidays and stress go hand in hand. Extra commitments on your calendar and the breakneck pace from Thanksgiving to New Year’s can leave you spinning. With a few stress busting tips from the Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge, you can make it through with your sanity intact.

Be willing to bend. Flexibility in the face of holiday stress can keep you from a full-out meltdown. Remember that last-minute changes and the holiday season go hand in hand. When sudden changes crop up, take a deep breath and come up with another plan. Say you found out this morning your boss needs you to stay late to work on a project. You had planned on going to the gym. Avoid getting upset that plan A didn’t work out and instead, take a 15 brisk minute walk on your lunch break. 

Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Take a moment to reflect on all the positives you have in your life. Even small things – like stepping into your favorite slippers to warm up your toes after work – can be something to smile about. Start to take note of all the things – large and small- you are fortunate enough to enjoy in your life and feel your stress start to melt away. 

Practice random acts of kindness. Everyone you see is just as stressed (if not more so) than you are. Make a point to do something kind for someone else; whether it’s holding the door for the shopper leaving the mall behind you with an armload of bags or picking up the tab for the next person in line at the coffee shop, small gestures go a long way. You’ll brighten more than just your own outlook. 

Catch a wink. Sleep is necessary to recharge your batteries and prepare for another busy day. There is no better way to beat stress than to make sure you get enough sleep. Before stress threatens to keep your mind spinning, stop it in its tracks – set a bedtime ritual to follow each night to help you fall asleep. For example, enjoy a warm cup of caffeine-free tea, dim the lights and listen to quiet music to help you unwind.

Just say no (politely). We are all guilty – one of the hardest things to do is say no, especially during the holidays. Family dinners, gingerbread-house building parties, work get-togethers, ice skating, and more can threaten to overload your schedule. Know your limits and avoid saying yes and over-committing during the holidays.

For more information or to join the Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge, visit

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences