6 Ways To Prioritize Your Health Through the Holidays

Black family hands setting healthy food on a table decorated for holidays.

It’s a few days before a major holiday. You’ve done most of your gift shopping and the right amount of food has been purchased just waiting for cooking day. Your home is cleaned and fully decorated. You’ve finally gotten the chance to lay back, relax and watch your favorite holiday movie with your spouse and children when your phone rings. It’s your aunt and uncle with their five children whom you haven’t seen in a few years. They’re calling to announce they are coming to town and would like to come through for dinner on the big day. This is in addition to extended family you already have coming over.

The news is bittersweet. Yes, you are excited to see your relatives since it’s been so long but now you feel added pressure to make sure they are properly accommodated. Thinking of all that needs to be done; extra food, finding room in your home for them to sleepover, etc. The strain of having to do so much in so little time can be a lot to deal with at once, mentally and physically. Yes, the holidays are a time of caring and giving, however, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

So, what are some things you can do to make sure you take care of yourself during this stressful time?

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Set Boundaries

Light skin woman with curly hair and black rimmed glasses and red top holding up her right hand in a "stop" motion while facing the camera.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Knowing when and how to say ‘no’ when you feel you can’t do or don’t want something from someone is key to establishing who you are as a person. This can especially be challenging when people are asking for extra favors during an already hectic time such as the holidays. It’s ok to help others, but if you find that its severely interfering with your own schedule, your space, your mental or physical wellbeing then you need to put the brakes on that and let people know you can’t do it at this time, So if you aren’t able to accommodate your aunt, uncle and children you can perhaps redirect them to someone who can. Learning various ways to protect your boundaries and communicate your needs effectively is key.

Accept Help

Black woman giving a crate of veggies to an elderly Black man.
Photo by Kampus Production

You don’t have to do it all by yourself! If a family member or friend with good intentions offers to do something to help such as cleaning, cooking or watching the children while you run errands, accept it. You can also ask for a small favor or something that can significantly lighten your load for at least a day during the week. It may just be the break you need.

Set Time for Rejuvenation

Clean and organized bedroom (white and brown themed) with night stand on either side and painting overhead

This is something good to do daily, because let’s face it, running around buying decor, food, gifts and coordinating parties can become taxing. Therefore, if you can, find at least 30 minutes to an hour to yourself daily to engage in some relaxation. This can really help with your overall health. One way you can do this is by getting great sleep that way, you can ensure your body and mind can have time to rest and recover. Showing yourself love and appreciation is key here.

Eat Healthy Snacks & Meals

Tangerines and nuts spread out on a wooden table.
Photo by Claudio Olivares Medina

The last thing you may be thinking about is how to keep up with a healthy eating regimen during the holidays. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements of the best holiday pies, cakes, cookies, chocolates, etc. Some of us even forego our diets for a few cheat meals. One day can turn into a week and so on. Definitely make sure to get your water intake in, especially if you are on the go. Also, opt-in in for healthier snacks high in protein, electrolytes and fiber while you are out shopping/running errands to avoid the emptier calorie “fillers”. Cheat meals are cool, but if you are on a stricter regimen or would like to continue on your regimen, do check with your doctor or dietician on how to best do this.

(Check out 10 Ways to Access Food for Adequate Nutrition)

Stay Active

Man and woman jogging in the middle of the street in the winter time.
Photo by Julia Larson

Not only do we have to keep in mind some of the things we eat, we also have to do our best to stay active. Again, getting in anywhere from 15-45 minutes of exercise a few times a week can not only help our bodies feel good through endorphins, but also our minds. Give your mental health a chance with a fun exercise such as walking, stretching, aerobics or a sports activity. Always check with your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise regimen.

Enroll in Mental Health Therapy

African American man on grey couch getting counseling from a woman therapist who is taking notes on a clipboard.
Photo by Alex Green:

A lot of unresolved family issues come up during the holidays. Often, this is due to anxiety in having to deal with certain people. For example, the loud and boisterous uncle who wants to berate others for their political beliefs or the grandmother who refuses to talk to you because you are a heathen for not believing the same religion as she does. This is the perfect time to find a therapist to help you deal with all the feelings you may be going through. Arguing rarely helps to solve things. So instead of engaging in banter that takes things nowhere but for the worst, its best to see how you can make changes in your own behaviors and approaches that can ensure more peaceful holidays with your family.


The holidays can be a challenging time for everyone. However, when we take the time to prioritize our health in multiple ways whenever we can, it allows us to build up the fortitude to deal with life’s stressors. Taking the time out daily to nurture our mind and body with good health practices can help us to stay strong through tougher situations.

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What do you do to keep your peace when you are stressed during the holidays?

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14 Replies to “6 Ways To Prioritize Your Health Through the Holidays”

  1. I really appreciate these tips and will definitely be putting most of them into action to help keep the holiday season one that does not add too much stress. It isn’t usually a time that causes too much concern for me personally but there are still things I need to do to make it a more healthy time!

  2. I am hosting Thanksgiving this year for the first time, and this is what I needed as a reminder to prioritize self-care and to set boundaries on my time and energy, especially around family members. Thank you Netert!

  3. You are so right! Even though, Thanksgiving and Christmas are times for family fellowship and fun, a lot of unresolved family issues do come up during these holiday celebrations. They can negative impact one’s mental health. You have provided us with great tips on how to prioritize our mental health and wellness

  4. This is such a great post but the part that really stood out was getting therapy for unresolved family issues, what a clever suggestion. There are tons of people and families that could benefit from this! Not to mention it really would help you relax in so many ways right in time for the Holidays.

    1. Hi Marie. Yes, this is such a big reason why some people won’t even show up to family events. A lot of healing is necessary in this department. Thanks for reading!

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