Five Ways to Minimize Stress during the Holidays and Beyond

weight gain during COVID

By Ayotunde Adeyeri, MD, FASMBS

The holiday season can be a joyful time, but it can also add a layer of stress to daily life, which may interfere with weight loss progress, especially if emotional eating is an issue. Stress can also open the door to other negative emotions—fear, sadness, and even depression. While these emotions are challenging to escape, I’m sharing a few tips to help control stress and other negative emotions during the remainder of the holiday season and beyond:

1. Saying ‘no’ means saying ‘yes’ to yourself

Your time and energy is limited. Especially during weight loss, reserving time to focus on this task is essential (health is wealth). You also need time to rest and rejuvenate. Finding balance can also increase your enjoyment of the holiday season.

 2. Stay ahead of the game, not under the gun

Feeling overwhelmed and time-crunched can quickly transform a positive experience into a headache. Carve out time daily to review your upcoming calendar and complete some tasks in advance. Now that we’re in the holiday ‘crunch time,’ take the less stressful road to accomplish a task. No time to buy a gift? A digital gift card with a thoughtful message to the recipient will be equally appreciated.

3. Focus on finances

Other than health, one of the biggest causes of chronic stress is finances. Get up to speed on your current fiscal situation. Not knowing where you stand can cause additional stress. Make January the month when you get organized, review your budget and commit to making any necessary changes. Knowledge and action are empowering.

4. Practice mealtime mindfulness

The holidays bring on an added layer of emotions. Therefore, take extra time to plan your meals and beverages. Bring a healthy dish to share if an approaching holiday celebration may not offer sufficient healthy food options. Before you eat, ensure you are hungry and not eating an oversized meal only because a restaurant server placed it in front of you. You control the food–it does not control you.

5. Create a big three list of solutions to destress

When stress hits, arm yourself with three solutions to destress. One of the easiest ways to avoid turning to food during tough times is easy and grossly underutilized—go outside. Get out of the office, house or restaurant and breathe deeply, talk a walk or just close your eyes for a minute or two. One of my patients turns on K-Pop music to feel ‘lifted-up and lighter.’ One of our Sterling Surgicare surgical nurses takes her puppy to the park. I like to go outside for a run or call a friend for a quick catch-up chat.

My final advice is to seek professional psychological support if you are living with chronic stress or a life-altering situation, such as the serious illness or death of a loved one, divorce or family crisis, job loss or other situations that may feel too overwhelming to manage on your own. These professionals have additional proven tools and resources to help guide you through this tough time.

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If you are interested in learning more about surgical weight loss–gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, bariatric reduction or a duodenal switch operation, contact the friendly and experienced bariatric team at Sterling Surgicare by calling 732-217-3897. We also invite you to sign up for one of our free upcoming Zoom or in-person Weight Loss Surgery seminars.