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Surviving The Holidays During Tough Times

Hey guys!  Happy Tuesday!

Well, the countdown is on.  With only 3 more sleeps until Christmas, I’m sure many of you are consumed by the craziness of the season – finishing up last minute shopping and wrapping, baking delicious holiday treats, and finalizing travel plans to be with family for the big day.  However, I’m sure that there are a few others out there like me – the struggling ones.  The ones who are dealing with some less-than-ideal circumstances around the holidays.  The ones who are coping with loss, change, and sorrow.  With all of this most-wonderful-time-of-the-year magic in the air, it can be really tough to get in the spirit when you’re just so damn sad.  I wish I could wrap my arms around each and every one of you that is hurting this time of year, but since that is virtually impossible, I have instead put together a short list of ideas that you can use to get through this challenging time of year.


1. Spend time with positive people

Surrounding yourself with positive, loving and understanding people during the Holidays is half the battle.  It will only make you feel worse to be around negative people, or people who can’t understand – or at least sympathize – what you’re going through.  If you’re stuck spending the Holidays without your family or regular crew, then reach out!  I can’t imagine that anybody would want to know that somebody they care about is alone on Christmas.  Reach out to your friends and acquaintances if you’d rather not be alone, and I can almost guarantee they will take you in with open arms.


2. Create new Traditions

One of the most difficult parts of the Holidays is the painful feeling of missing old traditions.  Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, or are spending the holidays away from your family, and the tradition just wouldn’t be the same without them.  Or maybe you or your spouse has lost their job, or you’re just simply tight on cash, and certain traditions have become too expensive.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t create new ones!  Check out free or inexpensive holiday events, light displays and markets in your community.  Take a drive.  Go for a walk (or a snowshoe!).  Bake together.  Make a craft.  My personal favourite holiday tradition (it’s only in its third year, but I think it’s here to stay!) is the “Snowshoe Christmas” that Sean and I do with his dad.  We don’t see the point in exchanging gifts, so instead, we spend an entire day out in the mountains playing in the snow.  We make amazing memories that will stay with us much longer than any store bought gift would.

Gord & I – Snowshoe Christmas 2015

3. Eat Well

As tempting as holiday treats can be, you will absolutely feel better if you resist the urge to over-indulge.  By all means, have a few of your favourites, but be sure to not let your health go completely down the drain at this hectic time of year.  Be sure to remember to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and don’t neglect your healthy habits!  With the added stress of the season, reduced sleep and extra calories from all of that rum and egg nog, you’ll need all the help you can get to stay healthy.

(Click Here for my absolute favourite plant-based recipe right now – Thai Cashew Coconut Rice with Ginger Peanut Sauce.  Add as many veggies as you can cram in there and enjoy!)


4. Get Moving

Just because it’s freezing outside (or maybe not, depending on where you’re reading from) doesn’t mean that you can’t stay active.  Walking, Running, Sledding, Yoga, The Gym, Skating, Building a Snowman, Swimming (indoors, obviously) and Snowshoeing are all fantastic ways to keep active during the holidays.  Involve your family and friends and plan a group skating date or a wintery walk in a local park.

Johnston Canyon makes for an epic Winter Hike


5. Remember, It’s Just a Day

Christmas is a funny thing, because there is like a month of all this crazy buildup, then about 12 hours of chaotic frenzy and excitement on the actual day, and then it’s just over.  All of the decorations go back in a box, and life goes back to normal.  If you’re like me and are reeling from a major loss of a loved one, or going through a divorce, or dealing with a financial crisis, or whatever it may be – it might be hard to enjoy the holidays this year no matter what you do.  If that’s the case, remember – it’s just a day.  The reason it’s so blown out of proportion and made into such a massive deal is because of corporate greed, not because of the true meaning of Christmas – which is to celebrate the birth of Christ (if that’s your thing) and enjoy time with your loved ones.  If all else fails, let the day come and go like you would any other day.  If you’re really hurting this year, it might be wise to stay away from social media too, because seeing the falsified, edited versions of everybody’s “perfect” Christmas will only make your heart hurt more.  Care for yourself and remember that there will be happier holidays again in your future.

Happier Christmases with my Dad

*Disclaimer: This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.*

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Was there a Holiday Season that was hard for you?  What helped you to get through it?

What are some of your favourite Holiday Traditions?



Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful post!
    Thank you for sharing! You’re awesome!!! I’ll repeat it again… you’re awesome!!! ❤️

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