Holiday Stress

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Does the holiday season suddenly have you feeling frantic, irritable, and stressed?  If so, you’re not alone. The holidays can be a time of joy, reconnecting with family and friends, attending religious celebrations, giving to others, and travel.  They can be also be a time of increased stress related to the busyness of the season, overindulging in heavy foods and alcohol, financial strains, less sleep, elevated anxiety and depression,  family dysfunction, and feelings of grief resurfacing with the absence of loved ones.

So what can do you to deal with it all so it’s not so stressful? Here’s a few tips to cope with the season:

 

Exercise as time allows

As my favorite group fitness instructor, Joy, always says, “You do you!”  Pick the type of exercise you most enjoy and do it. Group fitness, walking, biking, running, yoga, pilates, swimming, etc. all get those endorphins pumping. Exercise also improves mental health by increasing serotonin (the neurotransmitter in targeted by most antidepressants called SSRI’s) levels. Exercise that involves heavy sweating also helps to flush out extra alcohol/toxins and can keep your gut health in check.

 

Learn when to say no

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is real.  I get it. Yet you can’t do it all.  Family commitments, work holiday parties, parties with friends, additional school and church performances, etc. can all add up. Say yes to what is most important to you and no to what you feel might push you over the edge. Rest as time allows after events to quiet your mind and body.

 

Take care of your immune system  

Ever had a virus that wipes you out the entire holiday, and you end up missing out on the fun?  It’s your body’s way of saying it’s had enough.  Boost up your immunity head on so that doesn’t happen. Drink plenty of water.  Rest and sleep when you can. Take your supplements (I take Super Lysine the moment I feel a virus coming on–it will stop a virus in it’s tracks). Sit in a sauna or steam room to sweat out toxins, increase blood flow, and boost your immunity.

 

Give yourself the time and space to grieve over a loss

The holidays are a time when certain triggers may set off feelings of sadness and grief. A particular smell, a Christmas song, a holiday ornament, a special family dish, or a ritualistic outing are all things that can remind you that the person or pet is no longer with you.  Sit and have a good cry. Talk about your grief with others. You miss your loved one, so recognize it and allow yourself to feel the pain.

 

Don’t be so hard on yourself if you overeat/drink too much

You will set yourself up for failure if you beat yourself up over it. Let it go and savor the foods of the season.  Amanda at Heartbeat Kitchen has a  healthy mindset with this recipe for Hot Gruyere and White Wine Chicken Chili Dip. Doesn’t that dip looking amazing?!  After the holidays,  recommit to getting back on track (whatever that means for you and your body).

 

Lower your expectations

Additional tasks like holiday baking, cards, present buying, decorating, and entertaining to create “that perfect holiday” can drive a person frantic. Decide what tasks are most important and enjoyable. Outsource cleaning/baking/cooking if your budget allows and it lessons your load. It will free up time to spend with loved ones. A few years ago, I stopped sending holiday cards to a 100+ people, since it was the most stressful and time consuming task. Instead, I decided only immediate family would get one and have never gone back.  No guilt whatsoever.

 

Seek out professional help 

Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates over the holidays are the lowest.  This is a time of the year when connecting with family and friends increases with more social interactions and support. However, if you’re struggling, find a therapist or doctor who can listen to your story in an objective way with no judgement. You may need additional support to cope with family or life stressors around the holidays, and that’s ok.  Feel free to contact my office to inquire about openings. And remember, if you feel you or a loved one is in a crisis, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24/7.

 

Wishing you all a healthy, joyous holiday season!

xo

Kara

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Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation

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Often I hear clients tell me they want to change, but lack the motivation follow through.  Whether it’s a diet and exercise plan, getting a new job, or working on relationship concerns with others, finding the motivation to succeed at changing your life can be challenging.

Last week, I had to teach myself how to use Quickbooks.  It’s tax season and this is a whole new territory for me as a business owner.  I am definitely not a numbers cruncher kind of person.  It was HARD.  I didn’t want to do it, but I had to learn.  How did I make the transition from thinking about the task to making it happen?

Have a plan.  Write it down. Make sure to focus on one task/behavior change at a time.  Too many tasks can lead to complete failure as they can become too overwhelming.  Start small.  Think baby steps.

Identify distractions and obstacles.  What was preventing me from learning how to use Quickbooks?  My dirty and disorganized house.  I like a clean house and when it’s even a tad too disorganized, I can’t focus.  So I cleaned out my closets and dresser; went through my cookbooks.  One pile for trash, another for donations, and another for keeps.  No more distractions. Then I could move on to focusing on the task I really didn’t want to tackle.

Ask for help.  In our independent go-getter mentalities, it can be hard to ask for help, however,  you aren’t alone.  Life is much easier to cope with if we can ask and accept help when we need it.  Recognizing we can’t do it all is freeing.  I called my accountant, he reassured me I was on the right track and offered to meet with me.  Whew!  Such a relief.

Recognize the resistance to change.  Motivation to change in a life changing way often has to come at the right time and place.  It’s probably not a good idea to quit smoking while having to find a new job after being laid off from another.  Be realistic and kind to yourself.  It doesn’t all need to happen at once.

xoxo

Kara

Sleep and Mood

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Sleep can have a positive or negative effect on mood.  There’s no doubt about it.  If you have ever experienced parenting a newborn or pulled an all-nighter at work, you know how challenging to your mood and overall well-being that lack of sleep can effect a you.  Get a decent night’s sleep and suddenly you’re a nicer person.   During my sessions with clients, we often discuss sleep because it’s so important to overall health.

10 Habits That Can Improve Sleep

1. Decrease caffeine. I get it.  That cup (or 2 of 3) of coffee in the am gets you moving.  Go right ahead and have your morning cup of joe.  However, keep late afternoon and evening intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks) to a minimum.   Keep in mind when eating food that there’s caffeine in chocolate, coffee ice cream, and coffee-falvored yogurt as well.

2. Decrease use of electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime.  Go back to reading a good book since studies have shown that exposure to artificial light decreases production of melatonin.

3.  Establish a relaxing bedtime ritual.  This may include a warm epsom salt/lavender oil bath followed by body oil.  Or you can add few drops of lavender oil to your pillow or sheets.

4. Turn up/down the temperature of your thermostat.  For most people, the ideal sleeping temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees.

5. Watch alcohol intake. Alcohol may induce sleep, however, it disrupts the REM (rapid-eye movement) part of sleep in which dreaming and restoration occurs.

6. Supplements.  Used temporarily, Melatonin, Passion Flower, and Camomile Tea can sometimes help.  I personally have strange dreams when I’ve tried Melatonin and Passion Flower so I stay away from them.  Some studies have also shown Valernian Root and Kava (for anti-anxiety) can be helpful as well (however, there are side effects from both of these when combined with alcohol or other drugs).  My advice is to consult with your doctor before using sleep-aid supplements.

7. Eat dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime.  Our bodies need time to digest that evening meal.  Eating too much too late can lead to nighttime stomach rumblings and indigestion.

8. Exercise.  Exercise helps release stress and endorphins, and decreases body temperature.  Our bodies need sleep to recover from vigorous exercise.  Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime or you may have difficulty falling asleep.

9. White noise, ear plugs, and eye masks.  Get a noise maker and those high decibel ear plugs from the drug store.  They’re both well worth the investment. Eye masks can help as well.

10.  Decrease stress.  Life stressors ( losing a loved one, job loss, parenting a sick child, divorce, etc.) are sometimes hard to avoid, yet there are ways to effectively cope with those stressors.  Counseling is a healthy outlet for sharing your feelings in a safe, private, and non-judgmental environment.  Set boundaries with others.  Say “no” to some of those requests from others that you don’t want to commit your time and energy to doing.  A never-ending checklist in your brain is a surefire way to create anxiety and insomnia.

Sweet dreams. . . .

Kara

Weight Loss

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Happy Halloween week! Have you had your fair share of Candy Corn lately?  Or how about those cute little mini Snicker’s Bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?  How did you feel?  My guess is kind of crummy.

As we move into the holiday season, the temptation to over-indulging with food and cocktails, while dealing with relationship stressors and less sleep sets in.  There goes that intention to have a healthy lifestyle and body image! Frustrating, right?

If the number on the scale is creeping up (or not budging anymore),  I can help by providing a comprehensive and team approach to weight loss.  This service includes contact with other care providers (doctors, nutritionists, nurses, personal trainers), friends and family, and schools if needed.  Think of it as an accountability check-in along with supportive counseling/mental health therapy at the same time.

Make a commitment and invest in your wellness.

My office is conveniently located on 48th/Chicago Ave in South Minneapolis, MN. Feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or by phone at 612-710-6107 for a consultation.

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Kara

Self Care

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Picture taken on a hike in Sedona, AZ

 

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed? What are you doing to take care of yourself when life gets a little wacky?

Here’s a few self-care tips to get you back to feeling sane:

1. Get 6-9 hours of sleep a night. The ideal amount of time is different for each person.  Hit the  off button on electronics an hour before bedtime.

2. Exercise. Whether you find it easy or hard to motivate yourself to exercise, getting those endorphins pumping will make you feel awesome when you’re done. Depending on what you enjoy, I recommend 1 hour of high intensity exercise/day-cardio (walking/running/biking), HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), yoga, barre, strength-training, etc.

3. Eat a balanced diet of real food.  This means food that comes from the ground and from animals. Throw all of those diet processed food products in the garbage.  My rule of thumb is if I don’t know what the ingredient is on the list, I don’t recommend buying it. Shop at farmer’s markets and around the perimeter of grocery stores for most of your meals. Your body will thank you.

4. Socialization/support network. Connect with a positive network of family, friends, or a faith-group. Call someone. Ask them to meet for coffee. Or dinner. Or to just visit. We need contact with other human beings.

5. Relaxation.  Meditation, massage, acupuncture, yoga, guided imagery, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and/or a warm bath. Whatever you need to chill out and relax. I’ve been known to stop a cold in its tracks with a shiatsu massage followed by an epsom salt/eculyptus bath.

6. Supplements. Our hours of sunlight are diminishing as winter approaches. It’s important to have your Vitamin D levels checked.  If they are low, add a Vitamin D supplement.  I also recommend a good Multivitamin Fish Oil and a Calcium/Magnesium blend.  Probiotics and digestive enzymes can also help improve gut health.

7. Set goals. Life is a gift to us and goals help lead us forward. Want to take up a new hobby? Learn a new language? Travel to a new country? Carpe Diem.  Start planning now.

Of course there will be times of sadness and agony in our lives. And if you have these tools, coping with those down times can be bearable.

Make healthy choices for yourself.  Your body and mind will thank you.

Kara