two people drinking coffee during the holidays exchanging a wrapped gift

Photo courtesy of

The holidays — the shopping, the baking, the traveling, the mingling — can be joyful, but also stressful. Ensuring you don’t get overwhelmed by the responsibilities of your end-of-year celebrations could wind up becoming its own holiday tradition.

Just ask Bryant Resch, certified integrative health coach and owner of San Francisco-based Om Family Wellness. According to Bryant, she sees an increase in a majority of her clients’ anxiety levels each winter. Read on to see what advice she has in store for a more spirited, stress-free season.

1. Sleep It Off

Bryant’s number one piece of advice: As hard as it is during the holidays, try to get as much sleep as you normally do,” she says. Once your sleep schedule is thrown off, everything else is thrown off, too. By keeping your sleep schedule somewhat normal, you’re able to keep other areas of your life in balance as well.” 

A lack of sleep, Bryant says, makes you more likely to reach for sugary or greasy foods that don’t do a sufficient job of nutritionally supporting you. Plus, because you’re so tired, you may not feel like committing to your usual morning routine or exercise schedule. Sleep impacts all other areas of our health — it’s cyclical — but there’s an simple solution to staying well-rested during what’s thought to be one of the busiest times of the year. 

Before going to a friendsgiving or work holiday party, set a time-related goal for yourself,” says Bryant. Tell yourself you’ll leave by a certain time or that you’ll be in bed by a specific hour and stick to it.”

Image of table set with serving bowls, one with kale another with cauliflower, and tongs for serving and an out-of-focus person at end of table

Photo courtesy of

2. Eat, Then Fête

Indulging in moderation can still be part of a balanced diet. But keep in mind, you’re more likely to overdo it if your stomach’s grumbling going into the festivities. Before heading to a gathering, Bryant suggests eating a high-protein snack like hummus and veggies, or a handful of nuts.

It may sound counterintuitive, but I recommend my clients eat before they go to a party so they feel satiated,” she says. Since they’re not starving during the party, they won’t gorge on things they don’t really want or need.” 

Similar to sleep, it’s all about being in the ideal physical state to make healthy decisions. Bryant adds, When you’re not ravenous and your blood sugar is stable, you’re able to make intentional choices from a place of stability. You’re in charge — not your hunger.” 

In addition to eating beforehand, another way you can set yourself up for success is offering to bring a dish you know you’ll feel good about eating. Black bean brownies or my quinoa salad with avocado and mint recipes are two of my favorite party or meal additions,” says Bryant.

3. Move! Even if Just for 5 Minutes

During the holidays, my top exercise tip is to listen to your body,” says Bryant. If you’re feeling run down from too many cocktails or sweets, don’t beat yourself up or force yourself through an intense HIIT workout. Instead, do something that will replenish you, like a restorative yoga class or a long walk.” 

If you’re traveling and away from your normal environment, exercise can be hard to fit in and access. YouTube videos and fitness apps are great resources for holiday travel,” says Bryant. For example, you can stream a 15-minute yoga sequence or 5‑minute ab workout if you can’t find a local studio or aren’t sure how to create your own workout.” 

Simply going for a walk around the neighborhood or through the airport during a long layover is an easy alternative solution. Bryant stresses that even if only for a few minutes, moving your body always makes a difference physically…and mentally.

4. Just Breathe

According to Bryant, managing stress and your mental health during the holidays always seems to be a top priority but can often be the most difficult. 

When you can’t control your external environment — say, your mom’s annoying you or your boss won’t stop emailing you during vacation — try to go inward,” Bryant recommends. Focus on where you are, who you are, and what you believe. Remind yourself that you can only control your own thoughts and actions.” 

If you focus on your external environment, you’ll only exacerbate the problem or make it more painful for yourself. Once you’re able to focus inward, breathe through the situation. Long, deep breaths calm your body and help you focus — taking your mind off your external environment,” she says. 

By focusing on what you can control, and your breath, you’re more likely to be in a position to better manage and navigate any stress or conflict during the holiday season.

Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional. [Originally posted 12/11/2017 on]