Our Tips for a Healthy and Stress-Free Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a time of celebration and joy, but for many of us, it can also be stressful. This year, we have tips and tricks to help you manage stress. From creating boundaries to fun ways to spend less money, we know it’ll help you make the best of the season.

Different ways to gift this season.

Gift-giving can be a stressful time for all involved. Whether you receive gifts that don’t match your needs or you’re feeling the stress of a long list, there are alternatives to traditional giving that can help.

One of our favourite ways to share gifts with friends and family is to draw names. You’re only responsible for buying one gift, and it’s a great way to focus on something meaningful for the person you choose. This works especially well when everyone is grown up and can make giving fun instead of stressful.

With little ones, try pooling with your family to get meaningful gifts that they can use. This reduces clutter and waste while making Christmas fun and a little less stressful––especially for big-ticket items like gaming systems and sports equipment.

Create boundaries for your mental well-being.

It’s okay to identify things you don’t want to discuss when you’re with extended family over the holidays. This can be a big source of stress for many people, but setting boundaries can help you take control of the conversation.

Before holiday commitments begin, check in with yourself to see if things have bothered you and write them down. This can help you make boundaries for attending events this year. Whether it’s a conversation about work, relationships, or politics, setting parameters for discussing those things can help you avoid stress this season. Therapist and boundary expert Nedra Glover Tawwab has several great resources on her website and Instagram if you want to learn more about setting and enforcing boundaries around the holidays.

Boundaries around the holidays can sound like this:

  • “I don’t want to come over for dinner if we are going to talk about my relationship status.”
  • “I would prefer to draw names this year for gift giving.”
  • “I will bring some dishes of my own because there isn’t anything that matches my dietary choices.”
  • “My kids can choose if they would like to hug you. I want you to respect their choice.”
  • “I am not available to host this year, I would like someone else to take a turn.”

Prepare for travel with our helpful tips.

Travelling around the holidays can be incredibly stressful. Try our top holiday tips to reduce stress if you’re heading home this year.

  • Booking early and being prepared for delays can go a long way in minimizing the stress of holiday travel.
  • Try travelling at off times, such as the first or last flights of the day and on the holiday itself.
  • Shipping your gifts well ahead of travel reduces the amount of luggage you need to take and any stress at security.
  • If you’re driving, plan your route and be flexible. Weather can change at any time. To reduce stress and avoid driving in dangerous conditions, check the highway hotline for up-to-date information on road conditions.
  • Practice patience. Expect things to go differently than expected and focus on breathing and regulating techniques to help keep you calm.

If you’re travelling home for the holidays, our travel blogs can help prepare you and your family and make your trip as stress-free as possible:

What to do ahead of your trip

How to pack for your upcoming trip

How to travel with children

Create new holiday traditions with your friends and family.

No matter how old you are, you can always create new and exciting holiday traditions. Doing something new and exciting can reduce the stress of the holidays and create fun memories! Luckily, there are lots of options for shaking things up!

  • Sponsor a family in need instead of buying gifts for each other.
  • Pool together and head on a holiday adventure!
  • Head out for a ski on the local trails.
  • Try going out and ordering takeout instead of cooking.
  • Take turns hosting dinner.
  • Have a big seasonal movie night with special treats.
  • Create a scavenger hunt for small gifts.

Eat well and practice moderation.

The holidays are full of food, baking, and drinks. This season, you can reduce the impact of so many holiday parties and big meals.

  • Practice moderation: It can be hard to say no to all the exciting events. With friends and family in town and lots to see and do, there is often an excess of food and drinks. One way to help you practice moderation is by setting boundaries for consumption and choosing healthy alternatives when they are available. If you want to feel less full and bloated, take smaller portions and prioritize fruits and vegetables.
  • Host a healthy dinner: Hosting dinner is a great way to control the food and beverage options available. Try replacing some classic holiday foods with a healthier option (for example, try substituting taro root for potatoes). You can also challenge your family to have a vegetarian potluck if you want to create a new tradition and offer a healthier option.
  • Bring an alternative drink to the party: If you want to reduce the alcohol you drink this holiday season, try bringing a mocktail or beer alternative like kombucha to the party; there are many flavours to choose from, and you can boost your gut microbiome at the same time!

Happy holidays from all of us at Saskatchewan Blue Cross!

From all of us, we wish you a joyful and healthy season with your loved ones.