Beauty, Medical & Health Public Relations

Survival Guide for a Healthy & Stress-Free Holiday Shopping Season


Thanksgiving – a favorite American tradition celebrating family with food, football  It’s the same every year.  The holiday season hits and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of shopping madness, a busier-than-normal agenda, and extended visits from family and friends – all while trying to maintain your job and regular schedule, too.  The Black Friday scene will be similar across the nation: on any trip to the mall, you'll be among tense shoppers trying to score a good deal and check off their lists before all the gifts need to be stacked under the tree.  But unlike the rest of them, you don't have to make your holiday shopping trip hectic, stressful, and fast-food-filled. 

Here are a few tips from top fitness, nutrition and medical experts for staying healthy and stress-free during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season

A day full of deals and discounts, long never-ending lines and dragging bags full of gifts around a crowded mall.  It's a shopping marathon and you need to keep up your fuel. 

Franci Cohen, a New York City certified nutritionist, exercise physiologist and fitness trainer reveals the dos and don’ts on how to maintain your energy level and snack healthy while shopping this holiday season.

DO: Stay hydrated before, during and even after your busy day, to avoid dehydration headaches and lethargy that accompany dehydration.  

DON'T: dive into the caffeine pool. Soft drinks and coffee easily dehydrate the body due to their high caffeine content, and can definitely damper your shopping stamina.

DO: start your day with fresh fruit, low-fat milk, and fortified while grain cereal that is jam-packed with vitamin c and B-12, that boosts both immunity and energy. 

DON'T: grab a "bar" on your way out the front door, as you dash off on a Black Friday shopping spree. Most breakfast bars offer little nutritional value, and are filled with refined processed ingredients and lots of sugar!

DO: pay attention to your thanksgiving feast the night before. Skip the stuffing and pile on the veggies. Sautéed green beans are a great option! Be weary of tryptophan-filled turkey!  A little is alright but overdue it, and you'll sleep straight through your upcoming shopping day!

DON'T: Overeat, and don't Over-eat the wrong foods either. Stuffing yourself silly will definitely slow you down, as your body digests that heavy meal, but making the wrong choices will only add fuel to the fire. Sweet potatoes with butter, sugar, pecans and roasted marshmallows? No way! Instead opt for baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon and honey. The right choices and the right portions will help you succeed in both the "battle of the holiday bulge" and the "battle of the shoppers"!

DO: Pack some raw nuts, fresh apples, and some raw red peppers with you for your busy day. The protein in the nuts, fiber and vitamins in the apples, and the vitamin c in the peppers, will help sustain you throughout your day, while keeping your blood sugar levels and your mood stable.

DON'T: Pack candy, chocolate, chips, or cookies. Even low-cal or fat-free versions are a poor snack choice. These snacks will offer "quick fixes only", and will send your sugar levels on a downward spiral, leaving you wiped out before you even begin shopping!

DO: eat frequently throughout the day. Small frequent meals and snacks will give you the sustained energy you need.

DON'T: get so involved with shopping, that you forget to eat and drink. A car can't run without gas, and you can't run through the shopping aisles without water and food. So be mindful of your eating!

Shopping is a necessity during the holiday season, but it can get in the way of your fitness regular fitness routine. “The holiday season is usually a busy time for everyone and shopping requires time, and often it takes away time from going to the gym,” says New York City based certified personal trainer Mike Giliotti.  So should your workouts suffer because you have to shop? Mike says absolutely not! Here’s how you can make the best of shopping while burning some calories!

Shop in Stores, Not Online

“First and foremost, you will not be able to get a good workout in by spending a few hours in front of the computer.  In order to get your feet moving your best bet is to walk around an indoor or outside mall,” recommends Mike.   Walking at a moderate pace, you can burn more than 200 calories per hour while also accomplishing your errands. Better yet, if the stress of the holidays is starting to slow your roll, even this minimal exercise will make you feel better. A study recently published by The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine shows that exercise can significantly decrease stress and anxiety.  What better way to knock off that to-do list than by de-stressing and burning calories at the same time?

Wearable Weights

Body weights are a really simple way to add complexity to your day-to-day activities. “You can wear light ankle weights underneath your clothes to turn simple activities such as walking or going up stairs into an extremely beneficial exercise,” says Mike. “By adding extra resistance you are requiring muscles to work a little harder, therefore burning more calories.”  The best part? If your legs are getting tired you can throw those weights onto your arms to work on a whole different part of your body.

Park Far Away

Malls often have more than one parking option, and although most people have their preferred spots (outside your favorite store, closest to the entrance, or in a covered lot) use this holiday season as an excuse to break out of the norm.  By parking just a little bit further than you normally would you’ll be getting a nice brisk walk as well as some fresh air.

Skip Elevators & Escalators

If you have the mentality that elevators and escalators are there for people that actually need them, it won’t seem so hard to take the stairs instead. Don’t cheat your body by letting mechanics do the walking for you! According to Mike, “A brisk walk up the stairs-especially with heavy shopping bags- should bring your heart rate up and take your breath away. This will add a great interval-type exercise into your shopping routine.”

Shopping Can Be a Pain the Neck (and back)

Thousands of Americans sustain winter-related back injuries every year, including many injuries directly related to holiday activities such as shopping.  According to Dr. Michael A. Gleiber, a South Florida Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, standing on long lines, carrying heavy shopping bags and even sitting at your desk in front of your computer for prolonged periods of time surfing the retail web sites can definitely cause low back, neck and shoulder pain or worsen an existing back problem.


Shop during the off-peak hours to avoid having to stand on long lines and walk through crowded areas.

  •  Leave your designer shoes at home. Wear comfortable shoes with cushioning in the sole to absorb the impact of walking on hard floors.  And although Ugg boots have become a go-to winter footwear, unfortunately, these shoes do not offer proper support.   “Ugg boots are designed like slippers.  Meaning, as the foot slides around, you get wear and tear on the joints on the inside of the foot,” says Dr. Gleiber.  The ankle is in the wrong position, the thigh bone also changes position, and you get an abnormal movement in the pelvis, which leads to back problems.” 

Carry a small sized handbag if you’re planning on an all-day shopping trip.  “Inside a typical handbag, you may find a phone, iPad, wallet, makeup bag, a bottle of water, book or magazine,” says Dr. Gleiber.  “They seem like little things, but they add weight - up to 10 pounds and carrying all that weight can cause shoulder and neck pain.”  According to Dr. Gleiber, when it comes to fashion, putting extra weight on one side of your body is one of the biggest back pain causes.   Any time you carry weight on one side of your body for an extended period of time, it causes your spine to curve, and that leads to back pain symptoms.  Choose a bag that you can wear diagonally across your body rather than a single-strap bag that rests on one shoulder.  When you can't avoid using a single-strap bag, be conscious of changing the sides you use to carry it.

If you’re planning on checking off everything on your holiday shopping list on one visit, make sure not to carry too many heavy bags at once.  Distribute the weight of shopping bags evenly, and avoid carrying bags for too long. Walk back to the parking lot and drop them off in your car – make sure to lock them safely in your trunk!

If you’re going to skip the department stores and malls this year, and take advantage of Cyber Monday, sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time can definitely cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem. The main reason behind this is that sitting, in a chair or in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. Regularly stretching shoulders, hips, and hamstrings will increase your flexibility, offering instant relief and preventing back pain.  Dr. Gleiber recommends taking mini-breaks when you’re shopping online. “Proper ergonomics is also important.  A simple adjustment to your chair height could be the fix you need to end your back pain; and never hunch over a computer.  Focus on aligning your head and neck right above your shoulders and avoid straining forward.  Ideally, your mouse should be placed right next to your keyboard so you don’t overreach or twist your shoulder, arm, or wrist when clicking.” 

Long lines at the counter, dry stuffy mall air, too much Cinnabon snack breaks—they've all made holiday shopping a real beauty challenge.  Here are Dr. Susan Stuart’s, San Diego’s board certified dermatologist, beauty on-the-go tips for looking (and feeling) fresh while holiday shopping.

Escalator handrails, ATM keypads, restroom door handles.  Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example.   “Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs,” advises Dr. Stuart.   “If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.”

Washing your hands frequently is key to protecting yourself from germs, but it wreaks havoc on your skin's moisture level. Wash your hands with cool or lukewarm water and use a mild soap.   Pat your hands dry and then use a moisturizer right away to restore any moisture lost. If you wash your hands a lot throughout the day, consider replacing some of those washings with a hand sanitizer.  The alcohols in sanitizers do dry out skin, but often not to the extreme that soap and water can.

Big crowds, artificial heat – malls are severely dehydrating so a refreshing hydrating spray is a great product to have in your purse.    It refreshes and hydrates your skin while smoothing the surface and revives your makeup if you're wearing any.

Recommended Product: Michael Todd’s Citrus Spray/Facial Mister.  Scented with real citrus essential oil for a delectable fruity boost, Citrus Spray hydrating mist is a personal beauty lifesaver.  This wonder mist balances and replenishes the skin without ruining makeup so it can be used any time as an instant pick-me-up. Go from looking tired and lackluster to bright and dewy in seconds.