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festive stress

Festive Stress?! 5 Simple Stress-Reducing Strategies – Family Secret

festive stress

Festive Stress

Festive stress is real.  Yes, it’s holiday time with parties, eating and drinking with family and many get-togethers. What’s not to love? Well quite a lot. Unfortunately (for some) the holiday season can actually be the catalyst for stress and anxiety.  Studies show that up to 62 percent of people feel “very or somewhat” stressed during the holidays. Through unrealistic expectations, financial strain, loneliness and isolation, pressure of gift giving and messy family dynamics,  this time of year can be the cause of overwhelm! And, to compound this, stress can cause emotional eating or overeating if we are not aware or conscious enough. After all, stressed spelled backwards is desserts 😉


One of the things that I am absolutely grateful for is how my parents embraced Christmas.

We never and I mean never felt any stress or rush.  Mum would make some salads and dad would make a duck. Because “The man is responsible for meat” ?‍♀️?‍♀️ Sure dad, what ever ???  But the focus was never on food or presents. It was always about FAMILY and being TOGETHER.


Now, where I live on the other side of the world and don’t have any family around me, I don’t really miss Christmas, but I do miss FAMILY TIME.  Therefore, I am going to meet my parents in Dubai this coming Sunday and we will spend a week together.  Now, I am not here to tell you how to celebrate Christmas, but I would like to share some ideas based on what I have learned from my parents and their teachings.  Because I believe there is something that they did correctly as we didn’t have arguments, stress, pressure or anxiety.


Here are 5 ways not to cave to the holiday stress…..because tis the season to be jolly after all! 

Festive Stress

1. Take the Pressure Off + SAY NO! 

Think before you commit to other people’s expectations.  Practice saying ‘no’ to unreasonable requests or taking on more than you can handle.  Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Yes, it is ok to do this. We actually do not need to attend all work functions, parties or BBQs.  Prioritise the most important and be fully present at these.  


And you don’t need to give excuses or explanations. We can literally say “Thanks for the invite but I am unable to make it”.  Sometimes we can feel the need to rattle off a million reasons why we can’t attend. It’s really liberating to realise we actually do not need to do this!  Ultimately, healthy and honest boundaries will create a less stressful holiday period. 


2. Seek a Fresh Perspective to Avoid Festive Stress

If one task or Christmas tradition is the cause of stress, make a change! Shake things up and do it differently. A fresh approach might make things more exciting, as well as relieve some pressure.  Make suggestions to family about giving one gift for a secret santa, as opposed to having to buy 10-20 gifts. Or perhaps adults only buy for children.  What about handmade gifts this year? Or, instead of gifts everyone gives to a joint charity or a charity of their choice.  This will take some serious strain off everyone involved! 

festive stress

3. Budget and To -Do List

Christmas does not need to be a financial headache if you plan ahead.  Make a budget early and write up a list of everyone you need to buy for.  You can budget accordingly and ensure last minute blow-outs don’t occur. Remember to do this early so you are organised, and try and find bargains online with free delivery to avoid busy shopping centres. 

Festive Stress

4. What will you focus on? 

Where focus goes, energy flows.  Let us ENJOY Christmas and create magical memories and experiences without the guilt.  How? Set an intention of how you want to feel during the holiday season. Avoid making your intention to “get that summer body then ‘let go’ once the holidays start”. Let us change the focus to having fun during the holidays and spending time with precious family and friends.  Don’t get me wrong, food and holidays are there to enjoy, but it is about enjoying people around us as well. The time we have now, we will never get back.  It is truly precious. You might also CHOOSE to focus on mindful eating and upping your exercise regime as you will have more time during this period. 


For the actual Christmas day where family comes together – again, focus can serve us. Things might not be perfect or as you imagined.  Christmas day might feel like it’s falling apart with conflict. Uncle Joe is being passive aggressive again. Aunty June is late (again) and did not bring anything to contribute.  Your mother-in-law is constantly criticising and bringing you down. Despite these potential triggers, focus your mind onto the positives. Focus on the joy. Your loving and helpful husband.  Your joyful sister or the laughing children. The fact family are together, or the weather is lovely – whatever it might be, as small as it might seem. Ultimately, we can CHOOSE what we focus on. Choose Joy. Choose Gratitude. Remember, it’s not about the money, presents or perfectionism …it’s about coming together.

Festive Stress

6. Stress Release Techniques.

Try these stress release techniques during the holiday season if you feel festive stress creeping in…

  • Use relaxation techniques such as deep belly breathing or focussing on your breath to reduce stress or anxiety.
  • Talk out the tension with a friend (this seems simple but is seriously under-rated.  Sharing our feelings can take the world off our shoulders)
  • Even though it is the holiday season, remember basics like ensuring you are getting enough sleep, adequately hydrated, and getting regular exercise.  These factors will also bring consciousness to our bodies when we are confronted with delicious smorgasbords of extravagant foods and drinks. They will help us to avoid the emotional eating side of things.  Do not get me wrong though, we definitely want to enjoy the tasty food – but consciously! For more on this, see my blog on intuitive eating.
  • Mindfulness! Family gatherings are very much the ultimate mindfulness training ground. Check out this article by Zen Habits who discusses mindfulness habits when socialising with family.
  • Add a balancing yoga pose to your morning routine.  Padahastasana: hand under foot pose relaxes the neck and shoulders and calms the nervous system. This pose brings upper and lower body together, bringing balance to body and mind.  Hold this for 2- 5 minutes per day and you will feel the difference! Even if you are touching your knees or shins, it has the same relaxation effects.
Festive Stress

Festive Stress or Festive Joy?

Tis the season to be jolly and merry.  But it’s not worth sacrificing our mental health or feeling guilty after! Take on just a few of these strategies and see how they work for you in reliving some potential festive stress. For more ideas to stay sane and to survive the season binge free, download the free PDF below.



Christmas Survival Guide




  • Stop Binge Eating and Overeating in social situations – without giving up eating food you love.
  • Finally Break the Binge and Restrict Eating Cycle
  • Enjoy food you love GUILT-FREE
  • Enjoy your time with friends and family without constantly thinking about food and what other people think.
  • Stop feeling anxious about social situations and worrying if you are going to over eat.
  • Eat flexibly without restrictions and restrictive food rules.
how not to overeat in social situations and enjoy food

Tips for not overeating & enjoying food in social situations

how not to overeat in social situations and enjoy food

Are you overeating in social situations?


Maybe you even avoid them completely out of fear of overeating? As a sufferer of binge eating it can be difficult not to overeat when you are around a lot of food. Some of us even turn to eating/drinking in social settings when we feel awkward/nervous etc. Or if we usually restrict a lot of food on a daily basis and then it is available to us at a party, a lot of dieters go completely over board and binge on all the “forbidden” foods, only end up feeling bad and guilty after. 


It is important to eat mindfully and be conscious of why you may be hanging around the food table a little too much. Here are some tips how not to overeat at social events whilst also enjoying food and having a good time – which is most important!


1. Mindful indulgence


Give yourself permission to fully enjoy food you love, without setting any restrictions or rules. Grab a plate and decide which food you would love to eat and how much would make you feel good too. Make a conscious and mindful decision to really enjoy food without guilt. When we give ourselves permission to consciously indulge into food, we will avoid overeating not only in social situations but on a daily basis as well. 

overeating food in social situations

2. Practice mindful eating to avoid overeating

Mindful Eating and being in the present moment and making conscious decisions how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat. I explain a little bit more in THIS video. So when you make choice, ask yourself what would satisfy you – not the healthiest food or the food with least calories; but the food you feel would be satisfying and delicious. Ask yourself if you have had enough or if you need more until you feel satisfied.


You want to feel better after a meal, not worse. Focus on your meal as much as you can and eat slowly. Sometimes we get distracted when we have so many people around us and tend to eat mindlessly.


3. Constant body feedback


Ask yourself questions like: “Am I hungry?”, “Do I need more?” If yes: “What would really satisfy me?” Your body is always sending you a signal, listen to your hunger cues. Here is a great example: Check in with yourself on a regular basis and try to stay between 7 and 8 to make sure you still feel comfortable and can focus on having fun. 


hunger-scale-not overeat

am i hungry - stop overeating in social situations

4. Avoid snacking during the entire occasion


Try to eat one main meal, glass of whine (or your favourite drink) and/or cup of tea/coffee with desert. Keep a glass of water nearby so that you can keep sipping on it. Naturally in social situations we always want to have something in our hands. This way you won’t feel like you need to keep eating or drinking more. 


Don’t spend most of your night around food or the snack bar. Go around and speak to people and connect. Take advantage of moving and dancing if there is the option to do that. 


5. Don’t plan your next diet


Planning to restrict food or diet after celebrations can be also a big reason why you may overeat at the occasion itself. Your mind tells you to eat as much as you can and as much junk food as you can because you won’t be able to after. However, there is no need to go on a diet after a celebration. Your body is smart enough to regulate calories and your meals. You won’t put on weight even if you ate more than usual in this one occasion. Make peace with food, your body and yourself. 


You deserve it.

6. It’s about relationships


Enjoy the company of other people which is the main purpose of the social occasion – not eating. Food is part of the celebration and this is what makes it fun, but I personally believe that a celebration or a social occasion is all about connecting with our loves ones and meeting new people. 



7. Continue with your regular meals afterwards


Continue eating regular meals after the occasion. Wait until you are hungry again and enjoy your next meal. The party doesn’t need to continue over the next few days or weeks. Make good, healthy food choices next time you have a meal and eat as much you need to feel satisfied again.

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating


Regain power over food!


Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.


We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.