Most wonderful time of the year? Maybe. (Are we just pretending summer doesn’t exist or…?) Most stressful time of the year? Definitely. Between endless parties and the nonstop treats and booze they entail, it can be hard to prioritize self-care over the holidays. We’ve got you covered with these easy tips for surviving the month—and FYI, you can still eat all the cookies you want.
Avoid the Tourists
Love the twinkling of the Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center and window displays at Macy’s but hate elbowing your way through tourists? Go under the radar and enjoy less-mobbed destinations like the crazy Christmas decorations at Rolf’s, the holiday train at the New York Botanical Garden or ice-skating at The Standard Hotel.
Sweat It Out
Exercise is usually the first thing to take a backseat to holiday partying. So what’s a girl to do when CrossFit competes with canapés? Fitness influencer (and new mom) Ashley Chmelka swears by online workouts you can do without leaving your apartment (she likes Barre3). It’s especially helpful if you have little ones to keep an eye on. If you do have time to make it to a studio, get your fill of endorphins at NYC faves like Work Train Fight, Physique57 or Barry's Bootcamp (which, if you need any additional motivation, just began stocking its locker rooms with luxe Oribe products).
…Or Just Find Any Way to Move
OK, maybe family obligations mean sneaking out isn’t an option. Minna Lee, fitness influencer and founder of Live 24k, suggests bringing the activity to you. “Make things physical for everyone. Play charades, chase the kids around for a game, take the stairs, have a dance party or go on a walk together as a family after a big meal to avoid the carb crash,” says Lee.
It’s the thought that counts…but really, it’s the gift that counts. Stop playing guessing games and get your friends and fam exactly what they want: Research shows that the highest satisfaction comes from the gifts that are the most expected, experience-driven (like concert tickets) and reflect the recipient’s interests. So if your gym-junkie BFF requests a pass at that new boxing gym, get her just that. Feeling uneasy about asking outright? Make it fun and create handwritten wish lists over wine or brunch.
Don't Hate, Meditate
From half-hour lunchtime classes to upscale chill-out lounges, there’s a meditation sesh for everyone. Check out studios like the futuristic and tech-filled Inscape, traditional practice at Kadampa Meditation Center or beginner-level workshops at MNDFL.
Herb, er, Curb Your Anxiety
Dealing with family drama? Overwhelmed by what to get your S.O. (see tip #4)? Adaptogens (the so-called super-herbs) like astragalus, ashwagandha, schizandra, maca rhodiola and tulsi are purported to reduce emotionally triggered stress. You can find them in the form of supplements frmo Gaia Herbs, detox juice from Dr. Smood or the maca-cacao energy morning shake at abcv to name a few.
Hygge-ify Your Life
What can we say? The Danes know a thing or two about optimizing winter vibes. This means snuggling up by the fireplace, lighting your fave candles, sipping on the latest superfood latte or just good old Netflix. Eat your way to hygge bliss at Great Northern Food Hall’s Christmas lunch or try a kanelsnurre (cinnamon swirl pastry) at Meyers Bageri in Grand Central Terminal.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Yes, you can totally sip the anxiety away—and no, we’re not talking about copious amounts of mulled wine. The reason: Your levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) shoot up when you’re dehydrated, which means yet another reason to keep thirst at bay. We love Soma’s sleek bottles and pitchers (the latter filter out mercury, zinc, copper and chlorine).
Protect Your Gut from Overindulgence
Feasting on rich foods is the norm during the holidays (yay) but so is the accompanying indigestion and bloating (boo). Instead of tossing back antacids, try digestive enzymes with meals. (We like these chewable ones from Garden of Life.) They help break down food so you can enjoy the festivities sans tummy troubles. Another remedy if you’re in a pinch? Peppermint tea. (How seasonally appropriate.)
Fight Bad Germs with Good Ones
A surprising way to help your body and mind stay healthy during the holidays? Instead of ripping open fizzy vitamin C packets, pop a high quality probiotic. Not only do they aid digestion and detoxification, but they keep your immune system humming along. (Especially important when people are swapping colds as often as gifts.)
Just Say No
Raise your hand if your every weekend from now until January is booked solid. Much as we love a festive shindig, all that socializing can be exhausting. But there’s a good reason to flex your “no” muscle: According to the Mayo Clinic, when you're overcommitted to the point of stressing out, you're more likely to feel run-down (and possibly get sick). So instead of accepting every invite that comes your way, prioritize what matters most. After all, the holidays are all about spending quality time—not quantity.
Food influencer Marisel Salazar is a member of the Coterie by PureWow.