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Holiday Stress or Holiday Spirit? 10 Tips for Survival

It’s the holidays and what a wonderful time of the year it is!!!

Or is it?

People get stressed…
They get off their routines…
They often feel like they have to overextend and “outdo” themselves…
Their workouts go to the pits… or they just don’t do them…
Nutrition goes to hell… cookies, desserts, and alcohol seem to get consumed in more abundance than ever between Thanksgiving and New Years…
Overwhelm and anxiety become the “norm” rather than the exception.

And I HATE this!

Like you, I don’t want to live in this state. And I don’t want YOU to either.

So what makes the difference between holiday stress and holiday spirit? Ultimately, it comes down to choices. CHOICES that start from the moment you wake-up.

Allow me to make “10” suggestions for how you can truly enjoy what is supposed to be a magical and spiritual time of the year:

1. Wake up and DO NOT turn on your phone. Turn it on AFTER your morning routine (And I recommend doing #2, #3, and #4 below as part of your morning routine).

2. Take 10 minutes and journal or pray about what you HAVE in your life. Don’t let your mind wander to what you DON’T have. Focus on the people in your life and simple gifts and pleasures. And watch how this one small change shifts your attitude for the day. #WinTheDay.

3. Exercise for 30 Minutes. This will really catapult your mindset. Endorphins will be released, your energy will be flowing, and you will feel great. Then, watch how it will make you WANT to eat healthier. Remember, these workouts don’t need to be “record-setters.” Just get out and move your beautiful bodies!

4. Eat a great breakfast. Small egg omelet, ½ cup of oatmeal, and 1 protein scoop with almond milk is always my top choice to get my day started right. Find out what works for you, but DO EAT breakfast and get your day off to an extraordinary start.

5. Now turn ON your phone. “OMG—I can’t wait that long!” Oh yes you can. As a matter of fact, you will LOVE it once you realize how little you miss. Either YOU can rule the day, or the day can rule you. I prefer the former (You can call or email me later to say thank you for this piece of advice—trust me!!).

6. Avoid sugar like the Bubonic Plague. Wow, you haven’t heard about that plague in a while, have you? Seriously, sugar will kill you both physically AND mentally. It sets you up for massive cravings, it makes you “soft” and makes you feel like garbage. So do your best to minimize all the “cookie snacking” and picking at the “junk” around the house. Better yet, don’t even let it in the door!

7. 2 drinks a week. If you choose to partake in an alcoholic beverage or two, let’s keep it to just that—2. Not 2 a day—two for the week. Love you guys!

8. Go out to see the holiday lights. Hey, this really is a festive time of the year. And if you have a “Candy Cane Lane” or a neighborhood that goes all out to decorate their homes, spend an hour one night a week just driving around slowly to see the lights. This time of year reminds me of being a little boy and loving the MAGIC of the season. Never let that die—regardless of your age. Get out with your kids, your spouse, your friends, or just yourself. Put on some Christmas or holiday music, and ENJOY!

9. Don’t just BUY to BUY. It sounds so cliché. But seriously, spending money you don’t have only adds more stress. How about doing something that requires your time and/or creativity:

➢ Make a music CD to give.
➢ Write a long hand-written letter. Speak from your heart.
➢ Bake “healthy” snacks and make gifts “from your kitchen.”

I’m not saying don’t buy gifts and surprise people. We all love surprises. But I am encouraging you to “simplify” this year, especially if the holidays leave you in debt.

10. Establish and maintain holiday traditions. For example, here are a few from our family:

➢ “Elf on the Shelf” moves to a new location around the house every night and the kids have to find him in the morning.
➢ We pick out a Christmas tree as a family at the same lot every year, put on Christmas music, and decorate the tree.
➢ Adopt a family and sponsor that family for Christmas.
➢ Donate to Toys for Tots. What a great program! It’s amazing how many kids don’t receive anything over the holidays. And it always feels great to give to a program that donates toys to families/kids in need.
➢ Attend Christmas Eve church service and then do a special meal together afterwards. Our kids open one present that night.
➢ I go for a “reflective run” at the beach sometime around New Year’s (“Sorry” about the beach thing for all you cold weather peeps. ☺). But do get outside and do 2 things:
1. Reflect or journal about all the things you are grateful for in the past year.
2. Dream about 2015 and how you want your New Year to be. How do you want to feel? What would you like to create or achieve? Identify at least 5 of your “big” goals (business and/or personal) for the New Year.

11. AND THEN SOME. Watch your new “DOSE OF DURKIN” messages every Monday (I had to get that one in there!). This is my new FREE, weekly program to help motivate, inspire, and help GET YOUR MIND RIGHT. And I have some special “holiday” messages coming up from some pretty neat places so don’t miss out.

Sign up at and I will text or email you a very short message every Monday AM.

We have only a few more weeks left of this truly magical holiday season. Remember, it IS magical. It IS holy. And whether you are Christian, Jewish, or another religion, this is a time to be spiritual… and not stressed.

Do take the TIME to nourish your soul during the holidays.
Do take the TIME to celebrate OTHERS in your life.
And do take the TIME to remember the reason for the season. This is a sacred time of year.

I wish you and your family a very blessed holiday season. God bless.

Much love.



Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally-recognized performance trainer, bodyworker, speaker, author, and owner of award-winning gym Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA (one of the Top 10 Gyms in the U.S.). His outstanding team of 38 professionals deliver extraordinary service in personal training, sports performance training, massage/bodywork, Pilates, yoga, physical therapy and chiropractic. Todd is the Lead Training Advisor for Under Armour, regular contributor to Men’s Health, and author of The IMPACT! Body Plan.

Todd is also the President/CEO of Todd Durkin Enterprises where he conducts motivational keynotes/presentations, educational & leadership workshops, he operates a Mastermind Group for dedicated fitness entrepreneurs, and he presents internationally on health, fitness, peak performance, and success in life.

Todd Durkin recently created a “DOSE of DURKIN” to motivate and inspire people through weekly text messages that infuse video, audio, or just plain text messages. They are guaranteed to get your mind right and fire-you up. Check out to OPT-IN and start receiving your FREE messages.

You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ToddDurkin, his FB Fan page at ToddDurkinFQ10, or sign up for his monthly motivational newsletter at You can get more information on his facility at or

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