Maintaining your calm during the stress of the holidays

We’ve all heard recording music artist Andy Williams crooning to the 1963 holiday classic, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” on the radio. What Mr. Williams forgot to sing about was the stress that can arise during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Many people find the time between November 1st and December 25th to be fraught with exhaustive stress. It’s not unusual for folks to turn to alcohol and sugary carbohydrate laden sweets as substitutes for relaxation. However, what they are failing to recognize is that these choices in food and drink require greater energy to burn it off. In essence, if what you put in to your body is full of empty, fattening calories, and you aren’t participating in a regular exercise routine, minimizing stress and keeping a good sleep cycle, chances are you’ll pack on pounds during the holiday. And those pounds are like to multiply!

The best plan of action for any person concerned about stress is to remember that it’s not about what you get or gift, it’s the feeling associated with the giving. The best memories are made with loved ones in a relaxed and unassuming environment. Focus on what you can control: your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Ask yourself “will this be important one month or one year from now?” It will help keep you focused on the reason for the season.

For those who are stress eaters/drinkers, focus on crunchy vegetables with Greek yogurt vegetable dip, fresh fruits, and shrimp cocktail; take a tablespoon or two (not a ladle-spoon full!) of your favorite foods during dinner and chew your food well. If you plan on having an alcoholic beverage, limit it to one glass of a red wine, potato vodka with lime, or gin and tonic. Savor the flavor and enjoy the ambience of your company. Remember that it takes 10 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. Taking your time during meals will help ensure satiety without overindulging and experiencing a carb- crash later.

It’s important to take time for yourself during the rush of the season. Treat yourself to a massage; receive an energy-healing session such as reiki or craniosacral therapy; get a manicure or pedicure (and men, you can join the ladies in this as well!); take warm Epsom salt baths to help detoxify the body and soothe sore muscles; aim for 15 minutes of quiet meditation each day; get some exercise through walking, yoga, and other cardio activities; read a book or daily inspirational; and pray. When we focus on our health as a priority, despite what is going on around us, our life balance is in alignment. Eat to be nourished; exercise to be healthy; and relax to enjoy all that life has to offer all year long!

Contributed by Terri Caunt R.N., B.S.N.