How to avoid a not-so-merry-meltdown this holiday season!

woman wrapped in christmas lights struggling to get out

By: Dawn Cutillo

Keeping your sanity and some boundaries!

Happy Holidays! Who ends up taking most of the brunt of all the holiday shopping, cooking, and present wrapping? We all know it’s Mom, or at least the woman of the house. My three cats and I will gladly cuddle up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa while we keep up with the Kardashians.

Trust me, there have been so many times when I’ve wanted to skip out on the holidays, book a last minute trip to the Bahamas, and jet ski in my pajamas. Believe it or not, I think there may actually be other options than fleeing the country all together. Just know that you are not alone and the holiday season is only temporary. Let’s not stress ourselves out too much.

The biggest issue is that all of this stress can cause emotional upset, resulting in consuming too much sugar/alcohol, which can throw off your hormones. This can affect your weight, mood, sleep, and other symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. The time of year when you want to look and feel your best can actually end up being your worst.

Let’s discuss some scenarios you may be faced with this season, and let’s talk about a lighthearted way of dealing with them.

How to deal with all the shopping…

Now if I’m doing any kind of shopping around the holidays, I’m doing it all online. For one, I hate the crowds at the mall, they stress me out. Two, after writing my own book, the paparazzi keep following me. I had nearly five people attend my last book signing at the Barnes & Noble! For me, it is not the worst thing in the world to say, “Let’s just do a Secret Santa,” and then whisper that you like vodka (best for blood sugar!); that way you are only buying for one person. If you decide you want to give to all the people you normally give to, consider doing gift certificates. You can always put them in a pretty envelope with a bow.

How to deal with all the baking…

There is seriously nothing wrong with store-bought baked goods. I am way too busy scooping my cats’ litterboxes, so you better believe I am stopping at the grocery store to pick up cookies. It’s not about the cookies themselves, but more about the presentation. No one really cares that you baked cookies, and sometimes they’re not even that good anyway. But if the dish they’re on is pretty nice, that might make things better. There’s also always the option of letting the kids help make the cookies or treats. This gives you an activity that you can do with them, and after that glass of wine, you’ll be in a better mood to handle the mess they leave. Even though the cookies might not look as pretty after the children have helped, grandma will still find them endearing.

How to deal with all the holiday party planning…

We all have that family member who always shows up to the party empty handed. It’s already bad enough that you didn’t really want them to come to begin with, but now they’re here 20 minutes early and digging into the cheese platter like it’s their last meal. All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t hesitate to ask each of our guests to contribute a covered dish or something to drink. The absolute best part of the night is choosing a fun game to play. I would ask each guest to bring their favorite game to the party so there are more options to choose from. My favorite game right now would have to be “Telestrations.” It’s a hilarious game where you’re “drawing what you see and guessing what you saw.” It’s great for all ages, but if you’re like me and would rather send the children into the other room so the adults can have their time, then I would suggest getting the more “mature” version of the game, “Telestrations After Dark.”

How to deal with your in-laws or other unsavory family members…

I understand there is nothing worse than not being able to avoid certain family members because they are sitting at the same table as you, in your own house. This is exactly why I prefer to have intimate dinner parties with my three cats and my boyfriend. I think we can all bite our tongues and suck it up for one night. I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling certain family members that the party is ending at 9pm, when you know your intentions are to party on through the night and sing karaoke with your favorite cousin while trying to fit one more piece of caramel in your mouth! Keep in mind, it is your house and your party, so don’t feel like you’re not in control.

Make sure you do some things for yourself!

Here’s a list of things you could do daily that will help you compensate for the extra time and energy you are putting in for your family and friends around the holidays. This is important because it’s showing self-love and nurturing. Whenever we nurture ourselves, we can face the world’s challenges more easily, with more tolerance for our more difficult family members. These suggestions will help lower stress hormones, which will then balance sex hormones to help you look and feel your best.

Fit in some sort of movement/exercise daily.

Even if you can’t do your full workout regimen or get to the gym, turn the stereo on and dance around for 5 or 10 minutes. I really let loose and dance like no one is watching. My neighbors have only complained once. Dancing is even better for you than those linear exercises like walking, running, or the StairMaster. Plus, dancing puts you in a good mood so why not do it. It also unwinds tight muscles and fascia (connective tissue), leading to a looser body that is much less likely to be in pain or get injured.

Unwind with some relaxation therapy.

Ever feel like you wake up in the morning and are already excited to go to bed that night?! That’s because we are not getting enough sleep. At BeBalanced, we use “sound wave” therapy, but any type of deeply relaxing music can relax the mind and the body and help you unplug for 10 or 20 minutes midday, or help you unwind before bed. This type of activity evokes the relaxation response that compensates for the stressful “fight or flight” response that women tend to elicit most of the day.

Remember, what I’m saying is we are all in this together. Let’s learn to condense our stress and realize that some things we just don’t have control over, so let’s not dwell on them. We can’t necessarily buy a new family; otherwise, some of you would have opted to be Mrs. Channing Tatum a long time ago!  Let’s just make the best of the family situation we are in. I mean, sure, we don’t always love our mother-in-law, but she is only here for a limited time-both on this earth and at your house. Let’s focus on laughing a lot, pretending to love ALL our family members, and most of all, making sure we are taking care of ourselves. Let’s all have the best holiday season we can possibly have! And if the stress really gets to you and you want to be “bad” and act out a bit, go see “Bad Mom’s Christmas” with some girlfriends in your Pajamas and sneak in some vodka in your water bottle!

To see if you have a hormone imbalance, take our free hormone assessment survey.  At BeBalanced, our healthy weight loss program has helped over 5,000 women reach their goals by balancing hormones and helping affect wellness in all areas of life! You could be next. Don’t lose hope, find BeBalanced!

For more information on any of the topics mentioned here, you can contact your local BeBalanced Center, or email us at You can also take our free hormone assessment survey to start your journey to getting back to your best self! Be Slimmer, Be Happier, Be Energized, BeBalanced!

Dawn Cutillo is the author of “The Hormone Shift: Using Natural Hormone Balancing for Your…Mood, Weight, Sleep & Female Health” and has been in the health field for over 25 years. She is also the founder and hormone health consultant of BeBalanced Hormone Weight Loss Centers and is degreed and certified in health and nutrition. In addition to overseeing the operation of the BeBalanced flagship center in Lancaster, PA, Dawn owns Infinity Health LLC, a national consulting company that advises healthcare practitioners on how to aid patients in balancing their hormones for weight, mood, sleep, and health issues.