Sidestepping Holiday Stress, continued.


We are moving closer to the days.  Menus are being either solidified or liquefied and new tasks are being needlessly added to your list of to do’s.  Logically, our heads know we “should” say “no”, spend less, be ok with being imperfect, keep fit, and eat healthy.   The story seems as old as the Nativity…..this year it will be different.  And then the old message elbows its way into our stream of consciousness that we must bow and bend to our internal demands to deliver perfection despite the emotional costs and damage to our sense of having a say.

Here is a list of reassurances that when you set limits, all will be ok.

Resist the urge to spend beyond your means.  Think ahead about how you plan to cope when the credit card bill shows up in mid January.  Your children are going to survive if they don’t get that pair of sneakers with the $200. price tag, the X Box, or whatever.  Demonstrate by your example the importance of living within limits and realistic expectations.  Be aware that feelings of guilt can be powerful and can drive us to overcompensate in ways that get in the way of feeling good about the Holidays.

Plan ahead for stressful times with family or friends.  Be prepared to have some kind of “escape” plan so that you can avoid conflict.  Be mindful of how much alcohol you are consuming or plan to consume.  While the initial effect of a shot of the good stuff might buttress your confidence, remember that alcohol is a depressant and has the ability to exacerbate stress.  Drinking excessively makes us behave in ways that undercut the way we feel about ourselves.  We might think we are enlightening the party with our insight,  while in fact, we are being surly, arrogant, and generally pissing people off.  If you are hosting a party, be mindful of how much your guests are drinking and be prepared to cut them off.

Enjoy Holiday Food.  Web MD posted the following regarding the relationship between Holiday food consumption and stress management.

How Blood Sugar Alters Your Mood

The best way to cope with holiday stress and obligations is to keep your mood and energy stable. You’ll not only feel better, but will be much less likely to overeat.

“Choosing foods that your body absorbs slowly keeps blood sugar steady, maintaining your feelings on an even keel,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Food & Mood. Slow-digesting foods include whole-grain cereal with milk, brown rice with salmon or chicken breast, a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, or a spinach salad and half a turkey sandwich with milk. You want to eat either quality carbohydrates or carbohydrates mixed with protein, she says.

Foods that absorb quickly, such as sugar, white bread, or anything refined, spike blood sugar high; then cause it to suddenly crash. After a crash, you’ll feel crabby and hungry, and end up grabbing chocolate bars or candy — setting yourself up for yet another blood sugar dive, Somer says.

Boost Your Mood With Feel-Good Serotonin

High-protein diets may help you drop pounds, but they won’t do much to raise your spirits. That’s because your body craves serotonin, the feel-good chemical found in foods that boost your mood.

“Carbohydrates are essential for moving tryptophan (the amino acid that makes up serotonin) across the brain,” says Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, co-author of The Good Mood Diet. When your blood sugar drops, less carbohydrate is available in the bloodstream; less tryptophan moves across into the brain and your mood can plummet.

In fact, researchers at Arizona State University found that after just two weeks, a very low-carb diet increased fatigue and reduced the desire of overweight adults to exercise.

Serotonin fights holiday weight gain, too. “It tells you when you’ve had enough by causing satiety (a feeling of fullness) and reducing your appetite,” says Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet.

And a Final Word:

Be aware of powerful emotions that drive us to sabotage our sense of pride, self, and peace over the next few weeks.

GUILT:  Recognize and then work around this emotion.  Take a mental health moment and collect your thoughts and assess the irrationality of this feeling.

FEELINGS of Inadequacy:  Be alert for signs that your head is telling you that you don’t measure up.  Again.  Be aware that these feelings could be triggered by family in-laws or others whose sole purpose is to enhance their own self-esteem, AT YOUR EXPENSE.  Resist the urge to compensate by overspending, over-saying, or over drinking.  They are feelings, not facts.

Finally….be mindful of the joy and happiness you are creating simply by being you.  Work to your strengths and let others work to theirs.  Pace yourself.

And don’t forget to take time for you!



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