In a perfect world, there’s nothing but holiday cheer in December and into the new year. Reality is that holidays are often a mixed bag of joy and stress. The latter can lead to physical and health issues, ranging from weight gain to depression.

There are ways in which you can maximize the joy and limit the stress. Local family physician Dr. Scott Friedberg offers The Fit Life advice he says can ease holiday-triggered health woes.

1. Be realistic and acknowledge what is happening in your life. Perhaps you’ve lost someone close to you this year, or you are unable to travel to be with family. Know that it is perfectly fine to feel sad even though it is the holidays. Expressing what you are feeling will often make you feel better and help you cope better.

2. Try to keep some of your healthy habits intact. With all of the celebrations going on around you during the holidays, it is easy to give into overindulgence. This can lead to an increased level of stress and guilt. Make sure you are continuing to get enough sleep and physical activity, and try to have a healthy snack before a holiday party, so you don’t go overboard on some of your festive favorites.

3. Say “no” when you need to and plan ahead where possible. You won’t be able to do everything during the holidays, so pick and choose which events you can reasonably fit into your schedule. Balancing work, family and the holidays can certainly be a challenge. Making a shopping list in advance and presetting times to hit the malls will help you manage your time and stay on track.

4. Stick to a budget. Overspending will not leave you overjoyed. Set a budget for both holiday meals and gifts, and then stick to it. Money issues during the holidays can contribute to stress, anxiety and depression, so setting limits is a must.

5. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you might still feel sad, anxious or depressed, and be unable to deal with these feelings on your own. Speaking to your doctor or a mental health professional sooner rather than later can help get you back on track and ready to make the most of the holiday season.

Dr. Scott Friedberg is a family physician practicing in Boynton Beach. For more about his practice, call 561/369-2428 or visit www.DrScottFriedberg.com.

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About Lisette
Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has had the luxury of reporting on health, fitness and other hot topics for more than 23 years. The longtime Boca Raton resident, University of Florida graduate and fitness buff writes for local, regional and national publications and websites. Find out more on www.wordscomealive.com.