In many parts of the world, the holiday season is in full swing, and with it, opportunities for excess and overindulgence abound. I used to use the holidays as my permission slip to go “all out.” After a year of hard work, I deserved it didn’t I? Besides, I could always get back on track in January. 

In addition to using alcohol to get out of my head, I also used it as my coping mechanism for pent up stress, familial expectations and unresolved “issues” that seems to flare up during the holiday season.  

The problem was, I often ended up feeling worse for wear. Hungover, bloated, bad skin breakouts, and anxious from lack of sleep were not the holiday gifts I was looking forward to, though that is what I somehow always ended up with. 

Worse, I’d often get sick and spend the few days I had at home with my family stuffing feelings and symptoms by self-medicating with Dayquil and sneaking Kahlua into my coffee. How else was I supposed to fake that holiday cheer?

Over the years, I’ve refined my approach a bit. 

These 7 strategies show that the path of moderation can actually bring the most benefits: the ability to indulge a bit while staying healthy and having a better handle on stress in the process. 

Set your intentions

Too often, we accept the holidays as an inevitable “all or nothing” affair… vowing to get back on track in January. (Isn’t that what “Dry-nuary” is all about?) 

What if you were to navigate the holidays in a way that didn’t lead you to feel like a detox or sober month was necessary at the end of it all?

Set some time aside (the sooner the better) to set your intentions for the holidays. 

How do you want to feel during the holidays? Now get more specific and think about that potentially-triggering family gathering or work party – how do you want to feel during or after that event? 

Get crystal clear on this image of yourself, and then work backwards. In order to feel and embody those qualities, how much should you be drinking or eating? What kinds of drinks, foods or substances should you avoid altogether? How many drinks (if any) will allow you to follow through on your intentions? Create a plan and write it down. 

(I mean it. Write it down – now! You are far more likely to follow through on your intentions if you take the time to get clear on your intentions and externalize them by writing them down. Bonus points if you share your intentions with someone else who can support you to stay on track – aka buddy up!)


Plan your alternatives

It’s one thing to say “I don’t want to drink as much this year” or “I’m not going to eat the whole pie or my weight in candied yams (my personal fav)” but without alternatives in place, these intentions can fall short.

What tasty non-alcoholic drink can you bring to the event? Now’s the time to search recipes and stock up on ingredients. A simple google search of “healthy non alcohol holiday cocktails” will bring up a myriad of options with seasonal ingredients such as ginger, pumpkin, apple, cranberry, peppermint – in a variety of hot and cold options. Remember – pouring it into a fancy cup and adding garnish will make it feel like more of a treat and less of a lesser option. You’re also less likely to draw attention to yourself than if you are drinking plain water. 

Same goes for healthy treats. Bringing healthier alternatives with you to a party or event can ensure that you will have options on hand. 


Start your day the healthy way/ holiday rituals 

Try to stick to your morning routine as much as possible. For me, when things get busy and the season of temptation is in full-force, I know that realistically I’m not going to be eating 100% healthy all the time. And that’s okay, in moderation.  

I’ve noticed that I’m a lot less likely to go overboard on booze and unhealthy treats when I start my day healthfully and with intention. For me that means sticking to my morning ritual of water and lemon juice, green tea and then green juice or green smoothie. Even as things get busy and I’m traveling, I try to start my day with a few minutes of meditation or journaling, and this can be a welcome break to get centered during family gatherings as well. 

During the holiday season, I make an extra effort to stick to my morning routine. It eases my mind to know that I’ve started my day giving my body a boost of vitamins, minerals and alkalizing foods. Taking a few moments to myself each day to ground and centre myself also helps prepare me for any potential stressors that may come flying at me – and will help me remember my alternatives to drowning my stress in alcohol. 


Arrive and assess

When you first arrive at a dinner party or holiday event, do a quick survey. What are the healthy alternatives? What beverages are on hand that are not alcoholic? Go ahead and pour yourself one of those first (or the one you brought). Wait at least 30-45 minutes before pouring yourself an alcoholic drink. This simple shift can help establish a new pattern and take you out of the unconscious routine. The idea is to bring mindfulness to your actions instead of staying on auto-pilot which often leads to drinking way more than you originally wanted to. 

During the “arrive and assess” time period, you may want to make yourself a plate of the yummiest options at the buffet. Now’s the time to do it rather than waiting until you are ravenous or two drinks into your evening. Remember, eating will also help you stick to your intentions around your alcohol consumption. It also helps by giving you something to do in what might feel like an awkward first few moments sans-alcohol. 


Avoid stress

Yeah, the holidays can be stressful, no doubt about it. Family or work obligations, expectations from our significant others, temptations left right and center, the list goes on.

Take stock of your stress management techniques and start practicing self care, now. Book a massage, have relaxing baths, listen to a guided meditation to unwind or prepare for an event – in one word: chill. You deserve it and it’s an essential component of your holiday thrive guide.

Also – consider doing something totally revolutionary and politely declining any invitation that makes you feel anything less than awesome. Is it really worth it to attend every single event, especially if it’s likely to derail your wellness plan, or your mental health?


Peace begins with me / easy tapping ritual 

This easy ritual is a blend of a kundalini yoga practice and ‘finger tapping’ – an EFT technique. The exercise is very simple, and you can do it anywhere!  Repeat the mantra Peace Begins With Me as you tap your thumb on the side of your pointer, middle, ring and little fingers, in the space between the end of our finger and your first joint. Each word corresponds with a different finger.


Peace – Pointer

Begins – Middle

With – Ring

Me – Little


This meditation redirects your mind, reduces stress and supports your overall well-being by pressing on the different fingers.



We all know that any situation can become even more irritating or taxing if we are sleep deprived. Holidays shouldn’t be considered a hall pass from consistently getting enough zzzs. Getting enough sleep with make managing great Auntie May’s expectations a little easier. 

Try to avoid caffeine in the afternoons and evenings. If you are drinking alcohol, remember that drinking more than the recommended amount as well as drinking right before bed can actually disrupt your ability to get a good night’s sleep. (If you are curious about the recommended amount for the evening, “low risk guidelines” suggest no more than 2 standard drinks for women or 3 standard drinks for men 

If possible, have your last drink at least an hour before bed, and try a cup of calming chamomile or sleepy time tea instead. Of course, powering down electronics and treating yourself to a relaxing bedtime routine will also help you unwind. 

What is your favourite strategy for reducing stress during the holidays? What tips for moderating alcohol work well for you? I would love to know! 

In keeping with the theme of “why wait until January” to make changes, I have a couple more spots opening up for private coaching. I would love to support you to start making the changes you want, now and not later. Click here to set up a time to talk.