Reduce your holiday stress with these 5 easy steps


By Stéphanie Mansour, CNN

Whether it’s the pressure of social demands or more physical causes like lack of sleep, it’s normal to feel stress and be overwhelmed with extra chores this holiday season. However, there are ways to incorporate exercise into our daily life without adding stress or anxiety.

If you tend to skip workouts while on vacation, you’ve got company. Research suggests that Americans tend to eat and drink while on vacation. A CNN poll in December 2014 found that 62% say they “indulge and eat what they want” during the holiday season, and a CBS News poll in December 2017 found that 20% of adults say they do. they drink more alcoholic drinks during the holiday season. Even the thought of exercising can feel stressful in these busy times.

Instead of insisting on squeezing during a workout, try these moves while doing your vacation activities. That way when you’re done with whatever you’re doing – shopping, meeting friends, doing laundry – you can sit back, relax, and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Every move can be performed at home, and some can even be performed in public without anyone noticing. Try one or all of these five ways to turn your chore into a quick but effective workout.

1. The calf rises in the kitchen

Calf raises are very simple, making them the perfect movement to practice in the kitchen when you aren’t able to focus on training. All you have to do is stand with your feet hip-width apart, and lift your heels off the floor by pressing down on your toes.

Shift your weight up and down, squeezing your calves as you go. Repeat 10 times.

This movement can be done between any kitchen task, so try squeezing in a few sets. Just put something in the microwave and have to wait for it to be ready? Squeeze 10 calf raises!

2. Counter pumps while baking cookies

Countertop push-ups are a great way to incorporate an upper body workout into your vacation cooking. Place your hands on the edge of the counter and lean over so that your feet are planted behind you.

Bend your elbows, bringing your upper body closer to the counter before pressing down on the counter and straightening your arms. Repeat 10 times.

When you have a few minutes of downtime in the kitchen, use that time to your advantage. Place the cookie sheet in the oven, lean on the counter, and move before the oven beeps.

3. Squats while doing laundry

Laundry can become a trivial part of everyday life. However, you can spice up this household chore by working out at the same time. Whether you’re loading the washer, folding clothes, or carrying the laundry basket up the stairs, take a moment to perform a few squats.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms straight out in front of you.

Bend your hips and knees and make sure to keep your feet planted.

Try to bring your thighs parallel to the floor and reach your glutes back. Press down on your heels to straighten your legs and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

4. Standing abdominal impulses

Standing abdominal pulses are easy and go unnoticed by people around you. Being in public doesn’t have to keep you from tightening up in a workout. Whether you’re at a party with friends, shopping, or running errands, take a minute break and perform 10 standing abdominal pulses. If you do this several times a day, you will adjust to a workout without taking extra time.

Simply squeeze your abs in a pulsating type of motion, making sure you really engage your core with each movement.

Pretend someone is punching you in the stomach and pulling you away. Repeat 10 times.

5. Stretching the glutes while sitting at the table

The next time you sit down at the table for a festive meal or dinner, you can stretch your glutes under the table without anyone noticing.

Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, bending the knee so that your right ankle rests on your left thigh.

Gently lean forward and hold for 30 seconds before repeating with the other leg.

Mindfulness and awareness of your body increases as you stretch and exercise in your daily life. Enjoy the holidays while helping your body feel good.

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Stephanie Mansour, host of “Step It Up With Steph” on PBS, is a health and wellness journalist, consultant and weight loss coach for women.


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