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Don’t just white-knuckle your way through the season—this year, have a plan for everything.

‘Tis the season for family get-togethers, festive cheer with friends, and rest and relaxation to celebrate another year well done. But along with the sparkle of the holidays comes a darker side that we seem to relegate to the back of our minds each year: The financial strain associated with purchasing gifts for everyone you’ve seemingly ever come into contact with, the grin-and-bear-it days-long event spent with your mother-in-law, and the sheer lack of motivation to eat a vegetable or get your butt to the gym when Netflix’s siren call is at its strongest.

But fear not. The holidays are meant to be full of joy, reflection, and gratitude. And they can be—it may just require equipping yourself with the tools to handle anything that comes your way. Here is a handy guide to navigate the inevitable festive roadblocks that are surely headed your way. This year, we don’t just survive the holidays—we thrive through them.

“Between the parties, shopping for gifts, and the fact that it’s unpleasantly cold outside, I’m finding every excuse in the book to skip my workouts—and I’m giving into them. Help!”

The holiday season is the perfect time to shake things up when it comes to your workouts—not only will it give your mood a boost as you have something new to look forward to, but it may even help you find a new style of exercise you hadn’t considered before. Whether you schedule partner workouts with a friend or your partner for the added level of accountability, commit to trying a new fitness class at your gym (may we suggest Barre or old-school Aquafit?), or make a plan to stick to speedy HIIT routines through the holidays, your goal this month is to find a fitness style that sparks joy—y’know, so you’ll actually look forward to going.

Looking for more ways to increase joy in your workouts this month? Schedule your workouts before or after work so exercise becomes an integrated part of your day; treat yourself to stylish (and warm) activewear; and take advantage of cold-weather activities such as sledding, snowboarding, or skating.

“I feel so much better when I’m sticking to healthy eating, but that all goes out the window when holiday desserts, cookie tins, and decadent family dinners are involved. How can I find balance?”

There’s no two ways about it: The holidays are loaded with indulgence in all forms—especially food. But part of a balanced, joyful season is to enjoy all it has to offer, while remaining true to the healthy habits you work to cultivate the rest of the year. A restrictive mindset over the holidays can induce feelings of guilt or shame that have no place in the festive season. So kick that all-or-nothing approach to the curb and give yourself permission to enjoy the beautiful spread of tasty treats, while leaning on your love of colourful vegetables and healthy proteins to keep you satiated and feeling your best. Remember that just because something is offered to you doesn’t mean you have to accept it—and that decision is completely yours. If you’re not a fan of fruitcake, why bother? If you wait all year for your mom’s garlic mashed potatoes, go for it. The point is to honour your own needs and preferences, no matter what time of year it is.

“My partner and I travel cross-country to spend the week with his family over the holidays. Let’s just say…I have needs, and it’s hard for them to be met when his mom is sleeping in the other room. Got any tips to discreetly knock boots?”

Sex is an excellent stress reliever—something that’s much needed in the chaos of the holidays. Plus, being intimate with your partner while off your usual schedule at home can help you feel grounded and connected. So while it goes without saying that the volume may need to be kept in check, try adjusting your schedule to get frisky once everyone else has gone to bed, embrace the power of the floor if you’ve got a squeaky bed, offer to run “errands” (code for “car sex”), or test out the spooning position for a quick cover if someone does happen to accidentally walk in on you. Who knows, you may end up finding something new that works when you’re back home, too.

“When did we start buying presents for everyone we’ve ever met? Inflation is brutal right now and I can’t keep up with these costs.”

We hear you on this one—the economy is, well, not so great, and just keeping up with groceries can be challenging. So first, remember that it’s likely most people in your life are feeling the same way this time of year—and you can use that to your advantage. While finances used to be a more taboo topic, discussing the realities is now, thankfully, more commonplace. Secret Santa is a go-to method to cut down on the number of gifts you’re expected to buy, but you could also suggest creating experiences, such as a potluck dinner or a movie-watching party, in lieu of gifts. While it’s nice to give or get the perfect gift, at the end of the day, the holidays are about celebrating the people you love most—and that truthfully doesn’t need to cost a single cent.

“I’m in a constant flux of sleeping too much and not sleeping enough over the holidays. What’s up with that?”

The holidays are a strange mix of having to stay up past your bedtime to attend parties or to make sure Santa got the address right, and sleeping way too much in that period between Christmas and New Year’s when you’re not quite sure what day it is. And while some of those extremes will be inevitable, you can maintain a mostly balanced sleep schedule that’ll keep you functioning right into 2024. When possible, try to stick to your usual sleep and wake times. It can be tempting to sleep in late, but you’ll likely only do yourself a disservice in the end when your circadian rhythm is out of whack. Additionally, ensure you make movement and exercise a part of each day—staying active promotes a deeper, more restful sleep.

“I’m not a huge drinker, but a Christmas cocktail (or three) does seem to get the best of me. I’d like to imbibe, but still be able to function the next day. Any advice?”

Avoiding (or at least, lessening) the dreaded hangover after a night of cocktails comes down to being prepared. Enjoy your drinks slowly and in moderation, and ensure you’re having a glass of water in between to stay adequately hydrated. Don’t attempt to “save your calories” throughout the day—not eating enough is a one-way ticket to feeling terrible not just at the end of the night, but the next day as well. Fill your plate before and during the holiday party with a balance of carbs, fat, and protein. Finally, consider hitting the hay early on nights you’ve consumed alcohol. While alcohol does negatively impact the quality and duration of sleep, clocking as much sleep as possible can give your body time to recover and lessen the effects of your hangover the next day.

Working Out In The Winter | Here’s How To Stay Motivated! | Polar Blog
5 tips to keep nutrition goals on track on holidays | MPH (
9 Hacks For Having Sex While Visiting Family Over The Holidays (
12 ways to cut Christmas costs without cutting the fun | The Independent
4 tips to sleep better during the holidays | Brunet
9 evidence-based ways to prevent a hangover (


  • Chelsea Clarke is a Toronto-based health and wellness writer who’s obsessed with championing the underdog, sparking new perspectives on old ideas, and getting to the root of the latest trends.

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