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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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