How To Reduce Holiday Stress And Enjoy The Season

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As the holidays quickly approach you might find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed with everything going on. So much to do….so little time! To put this in perspective, according to Connie Bennett MSJ, CHHC, CPC:

The American Psychological Association (APA) found that nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays, which puts their health at risk. The APA also learned that during this time, 41 percent of women use food and 28 percent use alcohol.

Things can get pretty hectic around here this time of year with all the special gatherings with family and friends, food preparation, holiday parties, Christmas concerts, sports practices, shopping for gifts and wrapping presents.  But the holiday season doesn’t have to be wrought with anxiety and stress. There is a better way!

You can manage stress and enjoy all the fun-filled moments this season has to offer with the following tips:

How To Reduce Holiday Stress And Enjoy The Season

  1. Identify your feelings. The holidays can be an especially difficult time if you’ve lost a loved one or family relationships are strained. Take time to process how you are feeling – the good, the bad and the ugly. All of it.
  2. Relax your expectations. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Be realistic. Give grace to yourself and those you love.
  3. Plan activities in advance. Knowing when you’re going to shop, cook, wrap presents and carol (or whatever activities you’ll be doing) can make your day go more smoothly because you won’t be rushing to get everything done at the last-minute.
  4. Focus on gratitude. Taking time to be thankful for the good in our lives, takes the focus off the bad. You might consider keeping a gratitude journal. Expressing your gratitude to the people in your life earns you bonus points.
  5. Practice saying NO. Many of us overcommit and end up paying for it later when the responsibilities become overwhelming causing burnout and stress. Choose to take part only in the activities that are most important to you. Setting boundaries is a good thing!
  6. Simplify your life. Sometimes we make things more complicated than they should be. For instance, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner for your extended family consider preparing the meat or main dish and asking the other families to bring a side dish or dessert. Also, look at doing a gift exchange instead of buying for everyone in your family or friend group.
  7. Set a budget and stick to it. Plan ahead for how much you want to spend on gifts. Write down your plan then carry it out. Remember, money (and presents) don’t buy happiness. Consider making homemade gifts or donating to a charity in your loved one’s name.
  8. Make sleep a priority. Try to turn in early to catch some zzzs. Getting a good night’s sleep makes all the difference. Here are 16 Quick Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight.
  9. Make time to work out. Just do it. You’ll thank yourself later. Plus, exercise is a great way to avoid holiday weight gain.
  10. Eat healthful foods. Focus on eating whole foods and eliminating processed junk food as much as possible. Then when you attend a special event or dinner you can enjoy some tasty goodies without feeling guilty.
  11. Keep the peace. Even if you have a score to settle with Cousin Johnny…or a bone to pick with Auntie May. And if you notice other people are moody this time of year, remember that they are likely feeling the impact of stress in their lives. Overlook these things and try to help others when you can to lessen their load.
  12. Drink plenty of water, especially lemon water. Staying hydrated is a healthy choice that can help prevent headaches and even boost your immunity.
  13. Practice deep breathing techniques. Doing yoga or taking a few deep cleansing breaths can be invigorating and help you de-stress. You might want to check out the Calm app. I have it on my phone and it’s a great tool to help you relax and sleep better!
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How do you reduce holiday stress?

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22 Essential Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Many people experience weight gain during the holidays. With the return of colder weather, comfy sweaters and family gatherings it’s easy to pack on a few pounds. Please tell me I’m not alone here.

But you can still enjoy the holidays and avoid holiday weight gain by following these essential tips.

22 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

1. Eat a protein-rich snack before you go out.

If you arrive at a holiday party famished you’re likely to overeat. Avoid mindless snacking by choosing a healthy snack, such as the one of the following:

  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • a handful of healthy fat-rich nuts, such as almonds, pecans, cashews, or walnuts
  • an apple with peanut butter, or other nut butter
  • a protein shake, like My Favorite Peanut Butter Protein Shake
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • string cheese
  • jerky
  • hummus and veggies

For more healthy snack options, check out Top 20 Best Healthy Snacks.

2. Stay active.

Many families enjoy sitting around and watching parades, Christmas music specials or ballgames during the holidays.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with these traditions, all this inactivity can lead to weight gain. This is especially true if we’re also eating too much rich food (1)

Rather than lounging around all day, consider:

  • taking a family walk, either outside or inside a mall
  • going ice skating
  • building a snowman with your kids
  • going sledding

These activities will burn calories and keep you fit while giving you the opportunity to bond with loved ones.

3. Pay attention to portion sizes

With all the delicious foods prepared during the holidays, it can be tempting to overeat. But, people who eat larger portion sizes tend to gain weight more than those who don’t (2). Makes sense, right?

Read food labels to discern correct portion sizes. Use measuring cups and spoons to measure your food.

4. Get adequate sleep.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain and a slowed metabolism (3, 4)? When we don’t sleep enough we tend to eat more and exercise less. Our hunger hormone levels increase and this raises calorie intake.

Read 16 Quick Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight for helpful sleeping advice.

5. Don’t hang out near the food at a party.

If you linger by the delicious dishes and desserts, the temptation to indulge is greater. But if you step away from the food and focus more on talking to people you’ll save calories, and you just might have more fun.

This tip reminds me of the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind”. The same thought applies to your pantry at home. Throw out the junk food so it’s not there tempting you to eat it.

6. Keep stress under control.

The holidays are stressful sometimes. There are people to see, presents to buy and wrap and recipes to make. But it’s important to keep our stress levels under control.

When we are chronically stressed, our levels of cortisone go up. This can cause us to eat more and gain weight (5).

Focus on activities that reduce stress, such as exercise and deep breathing techniques. And for more about reducing stress read 5 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress And Relax.

Also, I found a great app that helps you focus on reducing stress. It’s called Calm.

avoid holiday weight gain
Sharing healthy foods at holiday gatherings is fun!

7.  Prepare a healthy dish to share.

Bringing a healthy dish to holiday gatherings can give you something healthy to eat even if everything else is rich or sugar-laden. This can help you keep your healthy eating goals in check.

It also gives others the opportunity to try a delicious and healthful recipe!

8. Use a smaller plate.

Using large plates often leads us to consume more calories. If not kept in check, this can lead to weight gain (6). Using a small plate helps you control portion sizes and reduce overeating.

9. Avoid processed food.

This includes most foods in packages, boxes or bags. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients. And most have added unhealthy fats, sugar and preservatives.

10. Keep a food diary.

Write down everything you eat or use an app to help you.

If you’re like me, I often underestimate how much I eat in a day.  Keeping a food diary helps me stay on track with my goals and be more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.

My favorite tracking app is MyFitnessPal. You may want to try it.

11. Weigh yourself weekly.

Okay, so there are conflicting viewpoints when it comes to weighing yourself. Some people weigh a few times a week. Some never.

It’s good to keep in mind that weight fluctuations are normal day-to-day. But, many people find it helps them stay accountable and makes them more aware of their progress if they weigh weekly (7).

12. Watch your beverage and alcohol intake.

Soda, juice, alcohol and other beverages are full of empty calories and sugar. These factors contribute to weight gain (8).

The best thing to drink? You guessed it….water! (See number 16.)

13. Take smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly.

Eliminate distractions, such as electronics, and eat mindfully, savoring each delicious bite (9).

14. Keep a consistent workout routine.

Stick to your regular fitness routine as much as possible. Consistent training produces better results. Are you lacking motivation? Reading 3 Ways To Get Motivated And Stay Motivated To Work Out can help.

And that leads me to tip, #15.

15. Stay positive even if you get off track.

Don’t beat yourself up or stress about it. Simply restart your commitment a healthy life and get back on track. Simply focus on your health and fitness goals and keep moving forward with your plan.

It might help to use Motivational Quotes And Power Phrases.

avoid holiday weight gain
Lemon water is refreshing and healthy.

16. Drink a glass of water before meals and snacks.

Sometimes we think we’re hungry when our body simply needs water. Drinking water fills us up and helps prevent overeating (10).

Read 9 Surprising Benefits Of Lemon Water to learn more.

17. Leave a few bites of food on your plate.

Are you a member of the “clean plate club”? It’s okay to admit it, I used to think I had to clean my plate too.

Try leaving a few bites of food on your plate. You probably won’t even miss them and the calories you’ve saved add up and can help prevent weight gain.

18. Eat loads of veggies.

Filling up with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits can help prevent obesity (11). They’re filled with vital nutrients and vitamins as well as healthy fiber.

19. Lift weights.

Building muscle is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism and burn more calories.

A great way to build muscle is by doing a kettlebell workout. You can check out 20 Reasons To Try A Kettlebell Workout to learn more.

20. Fill up on fiber.

Eating more fiber fills you up faster which can prevent you from eating as much and gaining weight (12).

Fiber-rich foods include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes
  • whole grains.

21. Buddy up.

Find a friend who has similar health goals and give each other accountability. Having someone to work out or swap health recipes with can help you stay on track.

22. Avoid sugar and simple carbs.

Eating too much sugar is a common cause of weight gain and obesity (13).

When you come face to face with the desserts this holiday season, focus on selecting only your favorites and leaving the rest. This will save you from sugar overload and help keep your blood sugar in a manageable range.

For more on the dangers of sugar check out 20 Reasons Why Refined Sugar Is Bad For Your Health.

avoid holiday weight gain
22 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain (INFOGRAPHIC)

What are ways you try to stay healthy during the holidays?

Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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The Truth About Breakthrough Treatments: Medical Marvel Or Malicious Medicine?

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Whether you’re living with a chronic illness or trying to overcome something in the short-term, there are many different choices to make about the care you receive. It can be overwhelming, but, ultimately, everything you do when you’re ill comes down to you.

Your doctor can diagnose and recommend, but they can’t take medicine, or decide on treatment routes for you. You have to do that yourself.

truth about breakthrough treatments

It can be a stressful reality to accept. After all, your mind is already full from your diagnosis. Never before will you have been so willing to hand over the reins on those difficult decisions. But, if you don’t make them, nothing will change. You can’t start getting better until your treatment is underway. Even with chronic conditions, prompt, educated decisions are the best way to ease discomfort and help you move forward with your life.

In many ways, merely ensuring you understand your options will take you far in this sense. You need to know as much as possible about your condition and the treatments available, too. You should also research the side effects or potential adverse reactions to each option. The good news is, such research won’t take long when you have Google at your fingertips.

The bad news is, Google can often throw up more than you were anticipating. Once you start researching, you may come across treatments your doctor didn’t mention. Many of these will be new therapies, which weren’t mentioned because they aren’t widely used. If you thought things were complicated before, they’ll be worse once you add these new options to your repertoire.

In many ways, you could argue that you should be as informed as possible about new therapies available to you. But, medicine isn’t plain sailing when it’s fresh from the idea-lab. And, it’s necessary you know that before jumping into those untested waters.

There’s no denying that the next new thing could be what you’ve been waiting for. But, before you get your hopes up, consider these pros and cons to opting for a new therapy to aid your recovery.

Examining The Truth About Breakthrough Treatments


1. New therapies are at the forefront of medical breakthroughs

Even in this modern age, medicine is changing all the time. Developments, like the ones mentioned in this article on, are forever helping us overcome illnesses which were once considered untreatable.

What’s more, new treatment options are improving methods which could already change lives. Scientists are forever looking for ways to reduce adverse side effects or end unnecessary pain. By studying diseases and data, they expand their knowledge of said diseases, and thus their ability to treat them.

If you opt for a brand-new therapy, you can be sure that it takes the latest developments into account. You’ll be able to rest easy that you’re at the forefront of the medical world, and thus receiving the best possible treatment for the time.

2. They use the latest technology

Not to mention that new therapies often use the latest technologies. Technology and its developments are working wonders in the medical world. Once, all medicine was guesswork. Scientists were only able to understand how the body worked using autopsy. There was certainly no such thing as an MRI machine, or even an x-ray.

truth about breakthrough treatments

But, technology moves at such a fast rate that even the above inventions now belong in the history books. Instead, we’re looking at a never-ending stream of new medical technologies. These include diabetes implants, which can measure blood pressure and release insulin automatically.

This, and many more, are outlined on sites like As you can see, a new therapy which uses technology could be much more precise and efficient than an older option.

3. They often aren’t as new as we think

By the time a medical therapy reaches our ears, it’s usually been in the pipeline for longer than we realize. With so much at stake, extensive testing has to take part before information can even be released. Not to mention that many therapies are merely hybrids of those which have come before. As such, the concept may not be as ‘brand new’ as you first though.

This theory can be applied to many new therapies, including high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for treating prostate cancer, as outlined on sites like While new for prostate cancer, such treatments have been used as a cure for various other cancers, including breast and kidney.

The same can be said for the technologies mentioned in the article linked above. Few of these have come from nowhere, but are developments of old methods. As such, you can rest easy that a new therapy isn’t actually all that new, thus giving you the opportunity to research and collect information from its past life.


1. No knowledge of long-term side-effects

There’s no getting around the fact that all medicine or treatment has side effects. That’s just the way it goes. Often, treatment is a toss-up between feeling bad because of your illness, or because of the way you’ve chosen to cure it.

Doctors typically recommend treatments they believe are needed and will help you feel better in the long-run. But it is always a good idea to do your homework and decide for yourself about whether the benefits of the medication  prescribed outweigh the side-effects. Many of us settle on potentially harsh therapies like chemotherapy because we believe they’ll help us feel better after they make us worse…and many times they do.

truth about breakthrough treatments

With a new therapy, there’s no knowledge of side effects, or whether they’ll have long-term implications. As such, you could feel worse for the long-term, and not just for a short time. Even more concerning, the treatment you’ve chosen to make you better could end up creating a whole new illness you’ll need to contend with.

There’s simply no way of knowing until the treatment has been around for a number of years. Hence, many patients going down this path have to sign a waiver that they won’t sue if it does happen. There’s no denying that it’s a risky game.

2. Less information to help you prepare

When we’re undergoing an invasive therapy, or even just a new round of medication, the majority of us do all the research we can. It’s how we prepare for what’s around the corner, and make sure that we’re making the right decision beforehand. As you may have guessed already, a new therapy doesn’t have that benefit. The information simply isn’t out there, so there’s no real way to put your mind at ease or prepare for what’s going to happen.

As mentioned above, many therapies aren’t as new as we think. So, you may be able to gather some information about the treatment in its past life, or when used for a different illness. For the most part, though, you’ll be going into the situation blind. Hence, any negative side effects could hit you that much harder. We have a propensity to deal with a lot of things if we’re expecting them. If they hit us unawares, there’s much more chance they’ll floor us.

3. Less of a support network

As mentioned at the start of this post, when you face illness, you do it alone. Your loved ones will be there for you, of course. But, for the most part, they won’t have been where you are. They can’t be with you when you face the most frightening aspects of your illness.

So, many of us opt to join support groups, or online forums, where we can interact with people in the same position. Such groups often focus on people undergoing the same therapies, so they compare notes and comfort each other.

But, if you opt for a new treatment, you may not find it as easy to seek such support. After all, if fewer people are going down this route, there won’t be any support groups to attend. The internet ensures you should be able to talk to at least someone else experiencing the same. But, the levels of support you find will likely be nowhere near those of a more widely used treatment. 

truth about breakthrough treatments


As you can see, the playing field on whether to choose new therapies is a relatively open one. Both sides have convincing arguments, any of which could be enough to sway you. And, as much as it’s no help to hear it, the decision, once again, falls on you.

All you can do is make an informed choice about what would work best in your situation. Consider what you value most and whether the above points fit with that. If, for example, quantifiable results are most important to you, a new therapy wouldn’t be the best. But, if you’re more interested in being at the front of medical advances, this would be your chance.

You never know; you could end up being one of the first recipients in a medical phenomenon. As with anything when it comes to our health, this is a game of risk. The question, really, is whether you’re willing to play.

What do you think about cutting-edge breakthrough treatments? Can you think of more pros and cons to add?

Share your thoughts below.

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4 Essentials Before You Start A Health Or Fitness Program

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For most of us, there is a breaking point, a lightbulb moment. A moment when we decide the way we are living isn’t good for us. We want to change, make some thing better of ourselves, feel better as a result. When we go through this transformative experience, it can feel extremely exciting as we contemplate all the positives that will come as a result.

However, there’s a downside to this excitement, as you delight in contemplating how different your life will be when you embark on a lifestyle change. This applies whether you’re planning to improve your personal fitness, or experimenting with eating plans or intermittent fasting. Before you begin on your road to health or fitness improvement, there are four essential things you need to do and keep in mind — so you have the very best chance of success.

4 Essentials Before You Start A Health Or Fitness Program

1. Arm Yourself With Information

If health and diet is your target, then you need to understand any changes you’re going to make. Don’t ever just read about a new food and diet from one source; you need multiple accounts, preferably with scientific and nutritional backing. It also helps to subscribe to forums for those who eat the way you intend to, so you can learn real-user experience of what an eating plan is like.

If fitness is your target, then browse through the likes of, watch YouTube videos from fitness gurus, and take time to learn about the different kinds of exercise you should be doing. The more you know about what you’re doing and why, the easier it will be to stick to your plan.

2. Speak To A Trained Professional

For health or weight loss efforts, you’re going to want to talk to your doctor. You don’t have to solicit their advice on what to do, but you should at least have them okay the choice that you’re making. There might be legitimate reasons why you shouldn’t embark on a certain eating plan that are related to your personal health. For example, diabetics should avoid a diet that’s high in fruit.

For fitness goals, a single session with a personal trainer will help you find the right path. When you know you’re on the right track, you can continue on your own initiative.

3. Start Slowly

When you first come to plan a fitness regimen, you can be so excited to see your health and fitness improve that you dive straight into a difficult and rigorous plan. This is understandable, but it’s also a surefire way to injure yourself — which could cause you to lose your enthusiasm quickly. Always start gently and build up the intensity as your fitness and stamina improve.

4. Strategize For Upcoming Events

Do you have a holiday coming up? A stressful time at work? A house move? If the answer to these — or any other significant life events — is “yes”, then you need to think how you’re going to navigate your new fitness plans around such events. Strategize for the near future so you don’t have to drop your routine for a few weeks. It’s far easier to work around than have to start right back at the beginning again.

When you have the above four issues ironed out, you can begin this exciting change to your life with the greatest chance of success.

What tips would you add when starting a new health or fitness program? What helps you stay on track?

Leave your comments below in the comment section. Your opinion matters to me!

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