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8 Healthy Holiday Survival Tips

Ever looked forward to the holidays, only to find yourself wishing they were over once they arrived? Reduce your stress and reclaim your joy with these strategic suggestions.

  1. Use Fido-friendly decorations. No one wants the stress (and expense) of a vet visit for Christmas. Avoid using real mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly in your holiday decor; all are toxic to cats and dogs. Instead, consider artificial plants or a pet-safe bouquet. (Check out PetMD for more Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays.)

  2. Get the Z’s you need. Stay healthy and enjoy the holidays by getting enough sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Adequate sleep supports your immune system, helps reduce stress, and makes it easier to meet the challenges of a busy day. (Learn more in Don’t Sacrifice Sleep—It’s 36% of Your Health.)

  3. Share a gratitude attitude. Say “Happy Holidays” (or whatever holiday greeting you like) to your fellow shoppers, travelers, and the service people you meet along the way. Anyone who’s working to help you along your way is away from their own families and festivities; they’ll appreciate your acknowledgement of their efforts. (See more great holiday travel tips from readers at Real Simple.)

  4. Wash your hands. You pick up germs by touching people, surfaces, and objects when you’re out shopping or at a party; then you can infect yourself by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Washing your hands frequently with soap and hot water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick—anytime. (Get more Hand Washing Do’s and Don’ts from the Mayo Clinic.)

  5. Practice “no.” The holiday season is synonymous with overload. Consciously choose what and who is closest to your heart, and say no to the rest; you’ll get so much more out of what you agree to do. Bonus: You’ll also create a bit of space to take care of yourself, maybe with a little exercise or some needed rest. (Find more Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress from SparkPeople.)

  6. Work your calendar. Don’t miss out on making lasting holiday memories with friends and family because you got busy. Put the events and tasks that mean the most to you in your calendar, like any appointment. Then relax and breathe deep: You’re covered. (See more Holiday Time-Savers at Real Simple.)

  7. Accept the gift of help. You want to celebrate, not make more work. So delegate. Accept volunteers. Cooking (yay, potluck!), decorating, cleanup duty, child or pet care, even shopping (remember free giftwrapping?) are all opportunities for you to let others share the spirit of the season with you…and in turn, you can volunteer for them, too. (Check out the more of the Holiday Survival Guide on Huffington Post.)

  8. Laugh it off. The busier we are, the more intense it seems that things can get—it’s all soooo important! But don’t forget to laugh. Laughing good and hard can reduce stress hormones and support immune cell function. Not to mention, it’s fun. (Get 24 more Ways to Fight Holiday Stress from
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