WELL FED: The Gift You Give Yourself

Ways to make the holidays less stressful

When the holiday decorations go up and gift sale flyers start arriving before Halloween, the surge in holiday stress won’t be far behind. I’m always amazed at how quickly a few simple plans can mushroom overnight and how our stress level balloons when we try to orchestrate it all. I’m one of those “leave-nothing-to-chance” planners so I’m often on overdrive. But part of my “plan” is also strategic self-preservation, which is what most of us abandon in our super-charged effort to make the most of the season.

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You know you can’t effectively manage anything or anyone else in your life unless you are coping well. So here are a few ideas that might help.

Commit where it nourishes you…

Don’t load your calendar because of some unspoken expectation that you have to say yes to everything. Say yes to what fills your heart and keeps you focused on what the season is really about.

Be mindful of what sets you off…

Emotions can run high during the holidays. The abundance of sugar, alcohol and the short winter days can heighten emotional stress. Take some time now to anticipate what might derail you in the weeks to come and figure out what you can do to re-align yourself if that happens.

Eat mindfully…

There seems to be this “take no prisoners” attitude about holiday food, but those who play this way rarely make it to the finish line. Eat as if your health depended on it. Bake fewer cookies. Fill your plate once, with less. Choose the best options. Savor every single bite. Don’t just eat because it’s there – make it worth your while.

Don’t confuse sleep with rest…

You should aim for adequate shut-eye over the holidays, but don’t dismiss your need for downtime. Time-outs aren’t just for kids, and your cell phone isn’t the only thing that needs its batteries recharged. Plug yourself into whatever recharges yours.

Give thanks…

There are going to be moments when you feel you’re going over the edge. Use that moment to step away from the fray and count your blessings. Make a list of five things you are thankful for, however puny. Reflect on those until they make you smile, take a deep breath and head back for the next round. You may be surprised how the situation has changed when you come back looking at it through a lens of gratitude.

 

Mary Porter is Director of Programs for Real Food for Kids

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