It’s that wonderful time of the year when we are preparing to go to parties, eat and be merry. Yes, the holiday season is filled with festivities and fun, but for many people the holidays can also be a stressful time. There are many reasons why you may feel stressed over the holidays, but the important thing is how you deal with your feelings. Don’t let stress force you to abandon your goal to achieve a healthier lifestyle. As with everything else, it will pass.
In the meantime, here’s what you can do. The first thing is to try to prevent unneeded worries. Keep your holiday expectations reasonable and manageable. Set realistic goals for yourself and don’t put too much on your plate (no pun intended!). This can apply to both your personal life and dieting.
If hosting a family dinner is too much stress, make it a potluck! Family and friends can bring their own personal dishes. This way, everyone can share in the preparations and your stress stays at a minimum. Also, do not commit to too many holiday events. Only go to the ones you really want to attend, where you know you will enjoy yourself.
The most important thing is to plan things out and don’t leave everything for the last minute! We are all guilty of this at some point or another, but drafting a to-do list and actually following through can save time (no long lines when shopping early!) and stress.
When we are stressed we typically skip breakfast, snack on potato chips during the day, and end our day with a box of cookies. Unfortunately, when we use sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up it only leads to trouble, for instance, additional pounds or worst health problems, which creates more stress. Instead, we need to eat more fruits, vegetables, and healthy snacks. You want to keep your weight-related goals manageable. Many people set a goal of maintaining their weight over the holidays, while others are comfortable losing weight. Both are okay; everyone is different. Do what works for you and this will ensure your long-term success.
Slow down and breathe – Deep-breathing exercises oxygenates your blood and clears your mind. Sitting down in a chair for five minutes and breathing in and breathing out slowly can be beneficial to you physically and mentally.
Exercise – A brisk thirty-minute walk or standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood instantly.
Rest – It is no surprise that stress can cause you to lose sleep. The lack of sleep puts you in a bad mood and your loved ones are directly affected so make it a point to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep for a better morning. So, carve in some time to sleep in late during the holidays, you deserve it.
Yes, the holidays can be overwhelming but remembering to take time to relax and enjoy this time of the year will help you manage your stress better. For more information, contact Kim Reid, Extension Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at (910) 592-7161.