How to Cope With Holiday Stress

5 strategies to slash holiday stress

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For many of us, just hearing the word "holiday" can create anxiety and stress. We have little time to get a lot done, and it seems as if the year has just flown by.

With that in mind, here are five strategies to help you reduce your stress over the holidays.

1. Create your plan

Making a to-do list will allow you to focus on the task at hand so you complete each of them more efficiently. If you are like me, you love crossing things off your to-do list and moving on to the next challenge. As your list gets smaller, you'll feel better.

2. Just say "no"

Over the holidays, we are often invited to numerous events, and fitting them all into your schedule can be overwhelming. Respectfully decline some of the invitations this year to make your time more manageable and enjoyable.

3. Schedule your workouts

You need to make sure you keep up your exercise routine over the holidays to help reduce stress while also burning calories. Exercise produces endorphins, which will help you feel happy and relaxed. Consider some high-intensity exercises such as burpees or jump squats. These can be done easily in your home, and they are great metabolism boosters for people on a tight schedule.

You might try a Tabata, a four-minute workout in which you perform 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of eight times. These are perfect for days when you only have small windows of opportunity to get moving!

4. Give to those in need

The holidays are usually a time when everyone is focused on gifts for their families and friends. It's also a great time for adults and children to focus on giving to others in need. Helping those less fortunate has the added benefit of making the giver feel good, too.

This year, consider matching the amount that you spend on holiday gifts with a check for those in need. For example, if you spend $1000 on gifts, you would also give $1000 to an inner city school or to help build fish ponds in Africa. Our pastor has challenged our church to do this over the holiday season. You can even attach a note to each gift for your family members and friends to explain that you'll be matching the gift's value with a charitable donation.

5. Share the work

Make sure you have your children help whenever possible. Create a chore chart, and allow your kids to pick a few chores each from the list. Then, play holiday music as you all work together as a family. It will make the chores much more enjoyable and put everyone in the holiday spirit.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD, is a nationally recognized nutrition and fitness expert who inspires people to lose weight and get fit. Mitzi coauthored, with NFL Future Hall-of Famer Tony Gonzalez, The All-Pro Diet, which helps people eat clean and get lean. Mitzi is team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals and served as team nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs for several years. A sought-after media source for trusted nutrition and fitness advice, Mitzi has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Shape, Glamour, US Weekly, USA Today, CNN, and FOX News. Mitzi was named one of the "Top 20 Nutrition Experts to Follow on Twitter" by The Huffington Post. Follow Mitzi on Pinterest at NutritionExpert.