The holidays are a time to catch up with old friends and family and to appreciate the good things in life. But for many, the holidays are a reminder of how much has changed in the past year, like losing a loved one or a job, or what has stayed the same, like staying in the same boring job or still not having met that special someone. As a result, the holidays are often a depressing time for some people, and they might turn to alcohol for comfort. While alcohol may seem to take the edge off at first, it's actually a depressant and is not a healthy stress reliever at all. Here are some tips to avoid over-drinking during the holidays.
Drink in moderation. Although this may seem like an obvious tip, it helps to remind yourself of it every so often during the holidays. If you're at a Christmas party and find yourself on your third cocktail, remind yourself to slow down.
Drink strategically. Some cocktails contain more sugars, calories or alcohol than others. For example, the average five-ounce glass of wine contains 103 calories, while a glass of eggnog contains almost 450 calories (except for our Skinny Eggnog, which has only 127). If you're drinking liquor, be sure to add club soda or seltzer to provide you with a full feeling and keep you hydrated. (via FitDay)
Plan strategically. Be sure to plan your days surrounding the holidays well. You don't want to leave too much wiggle room that you are convinced to partake in holiday drinking activities, but you don't want to pack your days so tightly with holiday activities that the stress and chaos of it all drives you to drink, either. Go for a moderate schedule!
Distract yourself. If you feel a sudden urge to drink, distract yourself with something else. Instead of dwelling on an irritating family member's behavior, instead distract yourself with a phone call to a good friend or watching a quick funny video online. If you're able to get away for an hour or two, go work out! Even if you don't have an hour to spare, you can relieve stress with this twenty-minute workout. Fitness is a great stress reliever, especially during the stressful holidays.
>> Read more: Top 10 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress
Start a new family tradition. If you know that going to your great-aunt's annual holiday party will bring up bad memories or cause major anxiety, why not start a new tradition? You can host the party this year, or you could move the location to a neutral area, like your family's favorite sit-down restaurant. It will shake things up and take some of the tension out of the holidays!
Don't bring alcohol as a gift. If you're attending a holiday party, instead of bringing a bottle of wine, bring an array of holiday-themed teas, hot chocolate, cider or coffee. That way, your gift is still relevant and you'll know there will be non-alcoholic beverages available.
Prepare yourself. Take a minute to have a figurative sit-down session with yourself and prepare yourself for the upcoming holidays. During said pep talk, prepare yourself for the behavior of your family members or prepare yourself for whatever emotions you think may get the best of you. Figure out a plan of what to say when prompted with an irritating question concerning your love life or job. Think about how you will react when someone forgets to bring their side dish or appetizer. That way, you'll be prepared and won't seek the unreliable comfort of a strong drink.
Don't overdo it. If you're hosting the big family Christmas party, be sure to ask for help when you need it. If you're visiting relatives out of town, be sure to split up your days evenly among family. For example, spend one or two nights at your parents' instead of three or four. Drop by a holiday party for a couple hours rather than staying all night long. Everything in moderation will make for a happy holiday.
Don't worry about how things should be. The holidays highlight both the high and low points of your life. Instead of thinking of and wishing for how things could be, you should instead reflect on how things currently are. Be grateful for what you have at this point in your life and focus on that instead of any negative or depressing aspects.
Be a role model. When all else fails, think about your kids! Be a role model for them and show that excessive drinking is no way to handle your problems. Making sure that your actions match the words and advice you give your children is important during stressful situations. Ride out the holiday stress knowing that it will be over soon and your life will go back to normal, when you won't want to look back with regrets.
How are some of the healthy ways you cope with holiday stress? Share with us in the comments below.