The 2016 holiday season is upon us! And while we may hear songs of it being the “most wonderful time of the year,” for some, this isn't the case! Anxiety about food choices or getting caught in a dreaded political debate… yikes! But it doesn't have to cause stress if you have a plan in place.
Here are some of my top strategies for making the holidays less stressful this year!
How to deal with Food
Anxiety around food is a very common concern, especially whenever you feel like you may eat “differently” than those you are spending the holiday with this year. This topic is easiest to tackle based on whether you are hosting or just going to a gathering.
If you are hosting the holiday feast, assign dishes or categories of dishes for guests to bring — sides, desserts, etc. If someone you are inviting eats food you don’t, ask them to bring that plate so they can still enjoy it (i.e.: rolls, gluten-items, etc.). This way, you can control preparation of the foods you want to make so they fit your dietary needs.
When you aren't in charge or hosting, you can bring at least one dish that you know you can eat alongside the turkey or other protein option. Chances are that there will be some veggies, but if you can’t eat dairy and want mashed potatoes, you may want to bring your own made a way you can enjoy!
Make concessions where ever you can aside from allergies. If something will maybe make you feel less than amazing but you aren’t truly allergic, don’t sweat it! You'll be able to get back to your normal routine the next day. Let the holidays be a time where you don't freak out if you had a bite of something you wouldn't normally eat.
But take note! That does not mean the next two months are a free-for-all! Make a mindful choice about when to indulge and be conscious that the holidays are only a couple days in the span of the next couple weeks. If you are really booked with multiple holiday parties, just pick and choose where to indulge.
How to deal with Family & Friends
When it comes to friends and family at the holidays, it's really about deeper, closer connections. My first tip is to connect more deeply with just one friend or family member at the gathering. Take the opportunity to learn something new about that person. Ask, engage, and learn! It'll allow for a more meaningful conversation and you'll feel so much better having made a deeper connection with one person, than not having made much of a conversation with anyone.
My next tip is to avoid toxic people… even if they’re family! Most of us have at least one family member or a friend of a friend who we do not really want to exchange energy with or be around. The good news is there's no need to have a conversation with that toxic person. It may seem like a big deal in the short term, but in the longer term, you’ll realize that it was the right decision. If things change in the future, you can always circle back to the relationship.
If you are talking to one person and things go off topic or onto a topic you don’t want to discuss (i.e. politics), you can deflect pretty easily or even say that you aren't interested in talking about it. If you are talking in a small group and a topic is brought up that you would rather not discuss, change the conversation or topic to something much more lighthearted. Think movies, tv shows, Kardashians?! Another option is to physically leave the conversation – actually walk away! You could go to the bathroom, refill a drink, grab some veggies to nibble on, etc.
If you are hosting the holiday gathering, lay ground rules. For example, make it a “no politics” holiday. Or, if someone starts to talk about it, and someone else changes or asks to change the conversation, realize it's not a big deal, and move on.
If you need more help dealing with unsupportive friends & family, something you may feel weigh more heavily on you during this holiday season, I have an entire section dedicated to this topic in the new version of Practical Paleo.