There is one simple practice I teach my clients at this time every year.

Like a proud papa, I love when I hear clients sauntering into class and telling their friends that they did this!

If you’re like most of my clients, you’re probably feeling pretty frazzled right now.

Pulled in every direction and totally stressed out by all you have to do.

You already work or take care of your kids and do all the normal obligations.  But you’re also getting the house clean, running around shopping, planning for parties, going to parties, and traveling….

It’s a LOT to handle.  And for too many people, it results in getting burned out, resentful or sick.

So the one big practice I want you to use can be summed up in one word…NO!!!

Learn to say NO.

Not to everything.  I’m not suggesting that you become Scrooge.

But ultimately, you are in charge of your health, your energy and your needs.

Nobody else knows what’s best for you.  So when people ask you to one more party or one more cookie exchange, maybe it’s just one thing too many.

Here’s how you can put this into practice.


1- Step back and look at your month.  What things are priorities (not because you “feel” obligated, but you genuinely want to do it).

Take a look at the whole month.  Really put it all down on a calendar or schedule and take a look.

What parts overwhelm you or fill you with a feeling of dread.

What parts are you excited for or want to do because it’s really important to someone you love.

What is a high priority?

I realize some obligations may not be fun but they still have to get done.  I’m talking about looking for the parts that are optional, but you really want to do them.

These should go in your yes list no matter what.


2- Who/what can you say no to that won’t ruin your relationship or burn bridges.

It’s time to cut.  It’s time to say NO to some things.

The things that are going to tap into your down time.  Things you truly don’t want to do and won’t hurt anyone if you skip it.

Maybe it’s a work party that’s really out of the way and doesn’t fit in your schedule.  It was going to be a real push to make it…and not everyone goes anyway.  Scrap it!

Eliminate things that truly don’t have to get done.  Be willing to cut it out and get it out of your mind.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like to let people down, do a little head-work.  Are you truly going to let them down if you bail on the cookie exchange?  Will you get fired or burn bridges if you skip the work party that half you staff doesn’t go to anyway?

Chances are that your worried feelings aren’t as real as they seem.

Think about the benefits YOU receive when you cut things out.

We train clients to do this when they give up bad foods.  Stop focusing on what you’re giving up…and focus on what you gain by saying no or scrapping Coke.

That gives you more time to do what you love.  To be with family, get some rest, watch Christmas movies in your favorite ugly sweater.

You know, it’s not a bad thing to actually do things you want to do during the holidays!  And people haven’t died from saying no.

Maybe it’s not so bad…so go ahead and try it.


3- Make your Health a Top Priority– Just like the caretaker who never takes time for their own health, if you want to enjoy yourself but don’t take any time for fitness and nutrition, you do it at the cost of your health.

It’s time to simplify.  Don’t worry about adding a new routine until the New Year’s.  But if you’re not doing anything, I want you to add two things.

Walk, and plan your meals.  This very small investment will save your ass (and keep weight off it too).

How do you succeed on long days shopping?  Eat breakfast, bring healthy snacks with you, and have a crock pot of soup waiting at home!

Mall food is crap.  If you don’t plan during this season and make easy meals, you’re hitting the drive-through.  And nobody is keeping weight off there!

Walking isn’t a stand-alone workout program.  But it’s a great fit for this time of year (or any cardio for that matter).

It will help you keep your stress down, and that movement will help you regulate blood sugar which is great for maintaining weight.

Now if you have a great strength program, keep it up!  Make them a priority.  Get creative with your schedule and make it a non-negotiable.

Remember, if you want the best health and satisfaction this holiday; prioritize things that benefit your loved ones and your health.  They are the top priority for your Yes list.


4- Build in Yin activities– in acupuncture, we categorize things as Yin or Yang activities.

Working long hours, going to the mall, going to parties, staying up late…these things are all Yang.

They can be fun, or they can suck, but they are essentially draining if you do too much of it.

During the holidays our culture seems to do the hell out of Yang activities.

Strangely, this is the exact opposite of our body’s needs.  Right now near the solstice, we’re coming into the most Yin time of the year.

This is supposed to be a time of more rest, more sleep, more yin activities- reading, eating with family, doing creative projects, taking a bath, getting acupuncture, meditating/doing yoga, etc.

The key to being your healthiest during the holidays, and thus enjoying the heck out of yourself and replacing your obligatory holiday stress with a feeling of calm, is cutting out what aren’t necessary and adding more Yin activities.

It’s actually what your body needs no matter what the culture around you is pushing for.


If you feel like this is a stretch, just consider me your coach and take my advice.  I’m glad to be the tough-guy and tell you it’s your homework!

I promise if you say NO to a few things this month and build in some down time, your health will thank you!

So before you go back to life as usual, I want you to do this Homework now:

  • Fill out all you have to do on a schedule/calendar
  • See what you don’t want to do/ don’t have to do and say NO
  • Make workouts a priority and make them non-negotiable
  • See what you absolutely want to prioritize and commit to that
  • Fill in some time for Yin activities so you have the energy for the things you want to do