December 18, 2019

Let's Bring Good Health Home for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! For me—and I suspect I’m not alone in this—the holiday season is solidly type II fun—the type of fun that’s stressful as it’s happening, but once it’s over you think, “I can’t wait to do that again!” As a working mother of two young kids in a household that celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, the holiday season brings immense joy and immense stress. 

Fortunately, I recently discovered a new blog post on how to proactively manage stress during the holidays, written by Marc Brackett, a renown Yale professor, author, and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.  

It got me thinking—how can I infuse more health and happiness into this fun yet stressful season?  

For starters, I remember that we’re all human. I know that sometimes, despite my best attempts to be proactive, I might still lose my cool. That’s why I created a few simple tips to ensure I can fully embrace the holiday season as a relaxing time to celebrate with loved ones. 

Remember These 3 “Cs” for Healthier Holidays with Family and Friends: 

Stay Cool 

We all have stress threshold. Think of this like a bucket—which can only hold so much before it spills over. We’re the same! If we let stress build up, we’re likely to “spill” our emotions onto unsuspecting friends and family (very uncool!). However, we can keep the contents of our bucket in check by eating well, sleeping well, and expressing gratitude

Stay Calm 

Despite your best efforts to stay cool, you may still find yourself getting “hot” in the moment. You know the sensation: your muscles tighten, your breathing increases, and you brain feels like it’s about to explode! When that happens, rest easy—all is not lost! Try these tips to regain your calm: 

  • Take deep breaths: one of the single most efficient ways to calm the nervous system is to take slow, deep breaths. This also occupies your mouth, meaning you're less likely to say something you regret. 
  • Relax your muscles: relaxing your muscles, especially when coupled with deep breathing, can create a sense of groundedness, which can help you feel more connected to the current moment.  Try some light stretching or a simple movement from one of Healthier Generation’s physical activity cards.  
  • Express empathy & walk away: Remember that you have the power to diffuse or remove yourself from a stressful situation. Try these phrases:  
    • “I can see we aren’t going to agree on this and that’s ok.” 
    • “I really appreciate you sharing your perspective with me.” 
    • “I’m going to go refill my glass of water. Can I get you something?” 

Stay Connected 

If you’ve kept your cool, calm demeanor and a stressful situation or a conflict still arises, hang in there—you can still regain control of the moment. Remember that relationships are connections that are cultivated over time. Try these tips to regroup and reconnect after an emotional outburst or disagreement: 

  • Acknowledge and name the source of stress or conflict. 
  • Apologize for any hurtful behavior or language. 
  • Accept the moment and agree to move forward together. 


Above all, be kind to yourself as you navigate the holiday season. With kindness and the 3 “Cs,” you’ve got a recipe for healthy, happy, and fun holiday season with loved ones.  

What are your tips for healthier holidays? Let me know on Twitter at @ecook_SEH and @HealthierGen with the hashtag #HealthyHolidays! 

Elizabeth Cook

Senior Director, Whole Child Health