Take One Thing Off! A Healthy Holiday Tip

Want less stress this season? Take a tip from the Cleveland Clinic: less is really more

Author Roxanne Sukol, M.D. M.S., is medical director of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Enterprise.  

Here’s a bit of advice that I’ve found helpful (maybe you’ve even heard this before): When you’re getting ready for a night out on the town, and you want to look your best, do a final check in front of a mirror. Take a good look at yourself and then remove just one item: the belt, the earrings, the necklace, or maybe one of the bracelets. Now you’re really ready.

That simple bit of fashion advice works pretty well for managing your holiday schedule, too. We all know that the season of joy can easily turn into the season of stress! And we know that stress is not compatible with good health. So, here are a few suggestions for removing one item to make the holidays more relaxed and enjoyable for everyone.

First, take a look at the menu you’ve drawn up for the big celebration. Now draw a line through one of the items on your menu. Really. I mean, how many mornings have you awoken to find green beans in the microwave, left there from dinner the night before? Nobody missed them, not even you. And no one will notice if you prepare three side dishes instead of four. Make a little bit more of fewer dishes, and dinner will be just as wonderful. I can pretty much guarantee it.

Now take one item off your to-do list for the holidays. Skip the homemade, silver-tipped, sparkle-dipped, green-bough centerpieces on the coffee table this year. Tealights will do very nicely instead. Still feel a need to pull out that antique bowl passed down through your family? Fill it with bright, delicious clementines, and let your guests enjoy.

There’s more. Pick your favorite cookie recipe -- just one! -- and make twice as much as usual. Forget the others for now; you can choose a different recipe when next year comes around. You (as well as the rest of your family) may even end up eating fewer cookies, since you won’t feel obliged to try one of every kind. And boxes of one type of cookie will still make very special gifts.

Here are two more ideas along this line. If you normally buy a pile of gifts for each child, and a few things for your spouse or parents, think about what they’d really enjoy and focus on just one or two special things instead. And, lastly, of the many invitations you receive, you might think about skipping one this year. We all feel pressure to attend every holiday party to which we’re invited, but maybe you can decline one gracefully, and spend the evening relaxing, enjoying your partner’s company, or watching a home movie with your family.

Enjoy the spirit of the season, and allow the holidays to nourish you. That’s what they’re really about. Feed your soul as well as your body, and relax. There’s no good reason to push yourself to make the “perfect” holiday. -- Roxanne Sukol, M.D., M.S.

Make this your healthiest holiday ever, with expert ideas from Cleveland Clinic Wellness.

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