By Edith Clogg, RD

The season of togetherness, potential time off from work or school, and gatherings with people and food is among us. For some, that can also mean stress and anxiety that comes with get-togethers, many things to buy and plan, and a different routine. Fortunately, it is possible to thrive this month!

Tip #1: Prioritize what gives meaning
A four course meal may provide some people meaning; for others volunteering in the community on a holiday may provide more. No one can do everything, so invest time in what provides meaning to you and those around you.

Tip #2: Set realistic expectations
If we expect to lose weight, always be happy and for the season to be completely stress-free, we might not be setting ourselves up for success. Set expectations that are reachable: that time together with friends and family will be memorable, even if it means hearing the same story from Uncle Joe every year. Find some time for you, whether it’s a brisk walk or an outdoor Frisbee game.

Tip #3: Keep things simple
The holidays can be merry, but more often they’re filled with more activities than we can handle. Instead, simplify your life during the holiday season (and keep it going into the New Year).  Reduce instead of increase the amount of stuff you do and expect. You will be less stressed and happier for it.

Tip #4: Open yourself to meeting new people or trying something new
Perhaps there are coworkers, classmates or other acquaintances that could be good friends, but we haven’t opened ourselves. Be friendly and reach out. Is New Year’s Eve usually a time of excessive eating and drinking? Plan a trip or a hike with friends instead that involves discovery and activity.

Tip #5: See other perspectives
The holidays can add undue pressure to relationships. That’s why it’s critical to see and understand others’ perspectives. Challenge yourself before the waters get rough to see the situation from your spouse, partner, parent, or friend’s eyes. Greater perspective builds character and greater understanding.

RECIPE CORNER
Citrusy Cranberry Cider
Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:

2 oranges
4 three-inch cinnamon sticks
2 quarts cranberry juice
4 inches of fresh ginger

Directions: 
• Peel the ginger and slice lengthwise then in half.
• With a vegetable peeler, remove 4 strips of orange peel and set aside.
• Juice the orange and strain out the pulp.
• In a large pot, combine orange juice, orange peel, cranberry juice, cinnamon sticks, and ginger. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 minutes.
• Taste and add sugar to taste. Strain, and discard solids. Serve hot.
Cal: 120, Fat 0g, Sat fat 0g, Carbs 28g, Sod 15mg, Fib 0g, Pro 0g

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