Holiday Cheer with Less Stress


by Caroline Moassessi, FAACT’s Vice President of Community Relations

The holidays are a time when families and friends gather, but there can be an underlying layer of stress surrounding food allergies and family dynamics, which can lead to stress and unhappiness. Fear not! With a bit of preplanning—and a commitment to take care of ourselves as well as our loved ones—a great holiday season awaits.

Start with self-care. Flight attendants instruct us to put on our masks before helping others. The same theory works at home and during the holidays. Are you up for the challenge of hosting, cooking, or traveling? If not, speak up about your needs and make your physical and mental health a priority. Drop by FAACT’s Behavioral Health Resource Center to find tips on self-care, coping with anxiety, and stress management. 

Rethink traditions. Maybe this is the year to refresh on your usual traditions! Instead of one or two people rising early to prepare a feast, have the whole family cook a meal together. Replace a large dinner with a group hike and hot chocolate by an outdoor fire. Create new traditions that truly celebrate the people in your life and your time together.

Write it down. Create a holiday checklist of upcoming events and related to-dos. Writing down tasks will give you an honest glimpse into whether you are trying to do too much—or too little. If the list is long, enlist children and others to help you prepare for events.

Re-educate. If loved ones don’t live with food allergies daily, it is easy for others to forget which allergens your family needs to avoid. Bring patience and a dose of compassion to grandma’s house as you “refresh” everyone with your family’s food allergy management rules, including label- reading tips. Better yet, call ahead or email them information from FAACT’s Education Resource Center.

BYOF. Skip the sweat of supervising someone else’s kitchen and Bring Your Own Food (BYOF). Keep the energy on being together and focus on the people, not the food – the reason for the season! Consider bringing a few safe dishes for everyone to enjoy together. Discover new holiday recipes in FAACT’s Pinterest Collection, and don’t miss the Cultural Allergy-Friendly Recipes.

Plan careful conversations. If you need to break the bad news that you are not traveling or hosting, prepare yourself for a potentially challenging conversation. Plan out your talking points and role-play with a friend if needed. Set your boundaries with love and firmness and find peace in knowing you can say no when it is needed the most.

Fill your glass. Now is a great time to shift focus to the positive things in your life. Play the Gratitude Game when things feel overwhelming. My family will pause and share three items we are grateful for in that very minute, such as fuzzy socks, a tasty dinner, or a good night’s sleep. The holidays can be a challenge—and bring us so many rewards.

Your FAACT family hopes the love of family and friends fills your heart and makes each holiday special.

Visit FAACT for more holiday tips.

We wish everyone a healthy, safe, and happy holiday season!