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Posted in Health, Wellness & Beauty, HH LIFESTYLE

5 Ways To Head Off Holiday Stress


For some, the holidays are full of joy. For the rest of us, they’re full of something else: Stress. Yes, stress and all the negative side effects that come along with it. I’m talking about breakouts, anxiety, insomnia, and the unwelcome weight that makes itself right at home around our middles, thighs or butts. Those extra pounds are like bad houseguests; they show up with no notice and are really hard to get rid of. This year I’ve got a simple 5-step plan in place. Give these tips a try and see if you don’t feel more holiday spirit and less holiday stress.

1. Practice the K.I.S.S. method of entertaining.

Whenever I catch my inner Martha Stewart taking over, I remind myself to, “Keep it simple stupid.” People are gathering together to be together, not to judge how well I fold napkins into swans. If you love to cook, cook. If not, ordering in or having a potluck dinner is a great way to spend less time toiling away in the kitchen and more time enjoying your friends and family. People like to help and many hands make light work.

2. Give yourself the gift of less shopping.

Don’t wait for Black Friday (or is that Brown Thursday now?). Whatever money you might save is hardly worth the frustration of having to wake up in the wee hours to fight the crowds. You can also cut down on shopping time by giving a “signature gift”; one special something that you  can give to the majority of the people on your list. Think a great throw blanket, picture frame, or perhaps a bottle of wine from one of Hidden Hills’s very own vintners like Marc and Deb Spellman (Cab In) or Lee and Victoria Black (Black Hill Farms).

3. Get physical.

Upping your exercise is a great way to lower your stress level and prevent holiday weight gain. Plus, it gives you a reason to escape should your in-laws decide on an extended visit for the holidays. Take to the trails of Ahmanson on bicycle, horseback or foot, or take advantage of the  Community Center’s heated pool or many fitness classes. Don’t have a solid hour to devote to working out? Don’t worry! 10 to 15 minutes here and there add up and the benefits of exercise are cumulative.

4. Get your om on.

Meditation has many health benefits, not the least of which is a reduction in stress. I spent some time at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad and learned that even a few short minutes can have a lasting effect. Find a quiet spot, sit in a comfortable position, and focus on your breathing while mentally repeating a mantra like, “So (inhale) hum (exhale).” Whenever you catch your mind straying from your mantra, acknowledge the distraction and refocus your thoughts.

5. Pay it forward.

Studies show that people who volunteer feel like they have more time. Another upside of helping others is that it boosts our own happiness. So, pencil in some time to help someone else this holiday season. This can be as easy as picking up someone’s tab at a restaurant or offering to run an errand or two for a neighbor. For local volunteer opportunities log on to, a site that matches people willing to help with nonprofits in need, based on interest and location.

Lifestyle expert, author and on-air personality Susan Campbell Cross, is a wife and mom living with her family in Hidden Hills. Her latest book is the FabYOUList: List It, Live It, Love Your Life. She has also written for SHAPE, OK! and Star magazines, as well as websites like The Daily Muse, Huff Post Women, Forbes Woman and Yahoo Shine. For more, visit


Reprinted with permission from Hidden Hills Magazine