Manage Holiday Stress and Eat Less!

The Mayo Clinic, one of the most venerable institutions in America, has published a comprehensive list of ways to deal with holiday-related stress, which are summarized here. Whether a person’s area of difficulty lies in over-drinking, excessive food consumption, body-focused repetitive behaviors, inappropriate anger, or any number of other unhealthy manifestations, stress management is of paramount importance. And sure, we have all heard many of these familiar hints before, but a refresher course can’t hurt.

Trying times

This year we carry an extra load of stress due to the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of people have been sick themselves, and many have tragically lost family members and friends to the disease. Childhood Obesity News has mentioned the numerous ways in which obesity and COVID aid and abet each other, and bereavement is an experience that many people respond to by accumulating kummerspeck, or “grief bacon.”

At the same time, some people are so economically challenged they can barely subsist, and others are restricted from traveling or spending in the accustomed holiday spirit. Add to this the unavoidable fact that a tremendous number of people find the holidays painful and depressing even in the most prosperous times, because of unprocessed emotional trauma from the past.

What does the Mayo Clinic staff recommend? A good first step is to honestly acknowledge our feelings. If we belong to any support groups, now is a good time to check in with them. Online resources can be amazing for this.

Adaptation as a survival trait

We might have to do things differently. Sometimes it just can’t be helped, so might as well face it with an attitude of acceptance. If we can’t get together with loved ones in person, we might have to learn how to use a new computer application.

Remember that people themselves are one of the circumstances we are called upon to adapt to. Frazzled and frustrated as we may feel, it’s possible that a relative or friend is dealing with even more disagreeable emotions, and we need to cut them some slack.

An important adaptation is the realization that we can’t say yes to everything. This is true in any year, but especially now when the pandemic is still a very real presence. Loved ones and true friends should understand if a person is reluctant to travel, or even to play host to visitors. COVID-19 has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, and no one should be shamed for making their own health a priority.

Whatever events are on the agenda, try to plan rationally and make allowance for obstacles. Make lists. For some reason, writing out a to-do list by hand seems to make more of an impression on the brain, than doing it electronically.

Like a lot of other timelessly true precepts, this next tip is corny as heck:

Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. For example, consider dropping off a meal and dessert at a friend’s home during the holidays.

That particular tip has the added advantage of moving some tempting food out of your reach!

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping,”, undated
Image by Oliver Henze/CC BY-ND 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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