Even though the holidays are often seen as a time of celebration and joy, most of us have found ourselves tired, sick, or just plain cranky at one time or another during this season. When we feel like this, we’re less able to bounce back from difficulties and challenges–we are less resilient. Here are three ways the holidays can zap your physical energy, and some strategies for dealing with them.

Food and Drink

Holiday festivities often involve special meals and gatherings. In addition to the temptation to eat and drink too much, which can leave you feel bloated and hung over, there is also the possibility of encountering things that don’t agree with your digestive system. You’re out of your regular routines, you’re eating new things…and the next thing you know your guts are in an uproar. This is especially true if you are traveling and eating at fast-food restaurants along the way.

Protective Strategies

To keep your system healthy, try these things:

1. Eat and drink mindfully. Notice what you are putting on your plate and in your glass. Take one bite of each food, and stop eating anything that doesn’t feel good to you. Yes, Aunt Beatrice might be a little upset if you don’t eat all of her broccoli and cheese casserole, but she’ll get over it. Notice how you are feeling as you sip a drink. Be aware of how much alcohol you are taking in, and switch to something else if you notice that you are beginning to feel intoxicated.

2. Stay hydrated. Your body needs lots of water, and when you’re out of your routine, you may forget to drink enough of it, substituting sugary sodas, coffee, eggnog, and alcohol. Carry a water bottle with you. Alternate sparkling water with alcoholic beverages. Drink a big glass of water when you get up and before you go to bed.


If you are traveling and sleeping in a hotel or guest room, you may toss and turn as you get used to an unfamiliar bed. You might have light coming through windows or strange noises that keep you awake. If you’re hosting visitors, you may be staying up later than usual, or getting up early to play host/hostess. And if you’re going to a lot of holiday parties, you are probably going to bed at unusual hours as well.

Protective Strategies

1. Manage your sleeping environment. Travelers can bring familiar pillows, eyeshades, and earplugs to be more comfortable in strange places. If you know that your relatives or friends have a chaotic or noisy house, consider staying at a hotel or rental property nearby.

2. Take charge of your schedule. Hosts and hostesses can set up the coffee pot the night before and sleep in a bit, or politely say good night to guests and turn in early. Party-goers can take a nap here and there to catch up on sleep, or leave before the very end of the party. When you’re well-rested, the rest of the world looks a lot brighter.


Holidays often involve contact with lots of people. Hugs, kisses, parties, traveling…it’s easy to catch a cold, the flu, or a stomach bug. Kids, in particular, seem to be a frequent source of germs that they pick up at school or day care. There’s nothing like getting sick to ruin the season!

Protective Strategies

1. Be careful what (or who) you touch. Door handles, faucets, and other surfaces that lots of people put their hands on are great germ-transmission zones. Use tissue or paper towels to avoid touching them. And if you notice that someone has the sniffles, resist the urge to shake their hand–and don’t even think about hugging them…blow them a kiss from a distance!

2. Wash your hands. Infections can easily move from your hands into your body when you touch your eyes, ears, nose, or mouth (and we all do that a lot without realizing it!) Although you can use hand sanitizer as a substitute if necessary, your best bet for protecting yourself is 30 seconds of lathering up with good old soap and water.

These simple and practical actions can help you avoid the main causes of physical energy depletion at the holidays. You’ll be better prepared to deal with the challenges and enjoy the happiness when you are feeling healthy and energetic. Other things, like being physically active and breathing deeply, can give you an additional energy boost.

Your physical energy is just one of the things you can focus on to increase your resilience at the holidays–your mental, emotional, and spiritual energy are important too. If you’d like to learn more, you can find lots of information about building your resilience at prosilience.com.