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8 ways to navigate holiday stress

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The holidays are special, joyful times—and TBH, they’re often stressful times, too. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 38 percent of Americans say their stress levels increase during this time of year. And managing mood is something we know that Found members find particularly challenging in general. Pile on the pressures of the season, and, well, you don’t need us to tell you—you probably feel it already. 

The effects of stress can be harmful on their own but can also contribute to depression and anxiety. So if it’s more overwhelming than holly jolly for you right now, we get it. That’s why we’re here with some ideas for navigating the holidays with less *stress.* Because we all know that too much of it can impact your weight care journey as well as your mental health.

Holiday stress and weight 

So what’s causing all the tension? The APA survey notes a lack of time, money, and added pressure to give and get gifts. If you notice sleep issues; anxiety or irritability; changes in appetite or digestion; muscle tension or pain; headaches; fatigue, social withdrawal, or loss of focus, then it’s time for some self-care. 

Most holiday tension is acute stress, meaning your body’s response to it is immediate and not long-lived. However, if your stress lasts for weeks or more, that’s chronic stress. And this type of stress has not only been shown to lead to excess pounds, but it can also alter your appetite, slow metabolism, and spike blood sugar levels. 

A lot of people turn to things like their favorite comfort foods, alcohol, or sedentary habits (sleeping or watching TV) to manage stress. And there’s nothing wrong with getting extra rest or cuddling up with Netflix. But how you cope when frazzled can either help or harm you. So let’s get to the advice. 

How to get over holiday stress 

1. Acknowledge and accept how you feel 

It’s common to want to avoid unpleasant feelings like stress. We suggest taking a moment to check in with your emotions when anxiety bubbles up. It’s OK not to feel OK, and you shouldn’t feel forced to be happy just because it’s the holidays. This time may be extra difficult for some people, and that’s 100% normal. Research suggests that accepting not-so-great experiences may result in fewer negative effects and lower the chance of depressive symptoms. 

2. Make a list, and check it twice 

All Santa jokes aside, making a plan can really help your stress by preventing last-minute scrambles. This can look like working out menus, shopping lists or budgets or when you’ll wrap presents. Go ahead and schedule some intentional relaxation while you’re at it. And don’t be shy here—hand off some tasks to others.

3. Be reasonable

Let’s be real—a lot can go wrong that’s just out of your control. Your sister may forget the mashed potatoes again, or your flight could get canceled last minute. Repeat after us: Imperfection is a part of life. Take the pressure off yourself by being realistic with your holiday plans. 

4. Say “no” more

Everyone has limits. Recognize them, and turn down events or tasks that are going to exhaust you. It can help you avoid burnout, so you can put your energy toward the things you truly enjoy. 

5. Take breaks

Instead of being in go-go-go mode the entire season, make time for some breathers. Science shows that deep breathing can help relieve tension and give you a much-needed break. You deserve to kick back and relax too.

6. Stick to your routine 

Don’t abandon your healthy habits. We know, we know, they can fly out the window when stress rises. But if you commit to a few healthy habits during the holidays—regular movement, staying hydrated, eating healthy, balanced meals while allowing yourself to enjoy the holiday menu—you’ll be able to stay on track.  

7. Engage in a weight care program 

Holiday weight gain is a real thing. It’s usually nothing drastic (whew). However, research shows that people who engage in a weight care program during the holidays tend to put on fewer pounds—and sometimes even lose weight. So there’s one less thing to stress about this season. 

8. Seek out support 

Lean on your support circle. You may need some help with meal prep, a cleanup crew, or just an ear to hear you out. The Found community offers a great space to connect with other members on the same journey as you, too. 

And if you or a loved one's stress becomes too overwhelming, reach out to a mental health professional. Here’s a list of resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)- helpline: 1-800-950-6264

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - In a crisis? Call or text 988 for 24/7 confidential free crisis counseling

In an emergency or if you or a loved one feels unsafe, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.

About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving more than 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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