Holiday Self-Care Tips That Will Take The Stress Away From “Stress Eating.”

The holidays are packed with stress, and we all know the easiest, safest, most affordable place to relieve that stress is in a plate of stuffing or ginger bread, a box of Christmas cookies, and lots and lots of red wine.

I always think about the scene from Mall Cop when emotional eater Paul Blart (Kevin James) is spreading peanut butter on his bread, saying, “Pain, go away.”

But the more we give in to the patterns of emotional eating, the deeper our pain gets, especially for those of us who are intolerant to sugar, gluten, dairy, and alcohol — which includes lots of people who struggle with chronic depression and anxiety.

If you’re prepared with some action tools, it’s possible to not get trapped into emotional eating even during the holidays — or at least not as much.

Here are a few ways you can avoid turning to food for comfort and exercise discipline during this self-indulgent season of the year.

Listen to your body: Many people ignore or override their body’s signals. Your body might be able to tolerate this neglect under normal circumstances but adding the increased stress of the holiday season might be more than it can take. To increase your chance of staying healthy during the holidays listen to your body. For example, take time to eat if you feel hungry and practice moderation. If you’re sleepy, get enough sleep.

Take a holistic health approach: Self-care means paying attention to more than how much you eat or exercise. It also requires paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, expectations, and interactions. Remember, optimal health means functioning at your best in all areas of your life not just in your body.

Create new, self-supportive traditions: If trying to do things “the way they were always done” creates more stress than joy, take a step back and figure out a new approach. Maybe your new idea will become the next family tradition. Traditions have to start somewhere!

Learn to say No it is a full sentence: Knowing your priorities and what is important can help overcome feeling overwhelmed. If there isn’t enough time to satisfy all the holiday demands, finish the most important and say “no” to the rest.

Surround yourself with positive people: The season is about Joy! Surround yourself with the people that bring you Joy and inner peace. When a person smiles the brain releases endorphins.

Enjoy holiday failures and imperfections: They are going to happen, so instead of judging them as a failure let them be and laugh. The truth is “prefect” is as made up as Santa Claus.

Take a real break: Remember being a child and having “Winter Break?” Give yourself a mini break when you can. This will relieve stress levels and balance your mood.