Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Don't Survive the Holidays, THRIVE!

Don’t “Survive” the Holidays…THRIVE!

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are, once again, almost upon us. It seems like just yesterday we were lighting sparklers and celebrating our country’s birthday on July 4th, and now we’re planning family get togethers for Thanksgiving and (yikes!) the Christmas holiday season is just around the corner.  Does thinking about everything you have to do and everywhere you need to be during the holidays stress you out?  If so, you’re not alone, but you need not suffer.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more than half of all women and men in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays – enough stress to put them at increased risk for physical and mental health effects.  With some advance planning, the holiday season can be a time to truly thrive, not just “survive”.  Here are some great tips to help you navigate the holiday season with as little stress as possible:

Identify:  What usually stresses you out during the holidays?  Is it spending time with your extended family?  Is it finding the “perfect” gift for everyone on your list?  Is it worrying about how you’re going to afford travel, gifts and entertaining?  Identifying what stresses you out is the first step to reducing stress.  Make note of what stressors you have, and use the tips that follow to help exert control over them.

Prioritize:  Recognize that you can’t do it all.  If you accept every party invitation you receive, join every friend’s cookie exchange, shop on every lunch hour, and never say “no”, you will definitely not thrive this holiday season.  It’s okay to say “no” and prioritize how you spend your time.  The key is to set your parameters NOW, before the invitations start rolling in, and before you are inundated with requests for your time.

Stay active:  With so much going on during the holidays, it’s an easy time to let your exercise routine fall to the wayside.  However, the benefits of physical activity include improving your mental health and mood, strengthening bones and muscles, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and even your risk of some cancers…and that’s just the beginning!  If you don’t have time for regular workouts, try burst training at home.  Running in place, jumping rope, or doing jumping jacks or squats in 30-60 second bursts, 4-6 times a day will get your heart rate up and energize you to take on the holidays.

Eat and drink right:  With holiday and party food aplenty, the holidays are a tough time to stay focused on eating right.  Next month we’ll look at some specific ways to navigate holiday eating, but for now, just focus on eating regular meals and limiting “recreational” eating.  Put more “God-made” food in your body than “man-made” food, and drink plenty of water to assure proper transport of nutrients to all cells and tissues of the body.

Stay positive:  It may sound corny, but looking on the bright side will de-stress your holidays.  You are more motivated to get things done and more likely to achieve your goals when you have a positive attitude.  When you face a problem, consider how you can turn that into an opportunity.  You’ll have more perseverance if you expect things to work out well in the end.

Multi task while socializing:  Consider teaming up with friends to tackle your holiday “to do” list.  Shopping with friends is always more fun, but have you considered having friends over for a holiday decorating party?  Or getting a group together to address holiday cards?  These are easy ways to double your productivity.

Stay healthy:  Germs are everywhere, and the best way to keep them from making you sick is to wash your hands frequently.  Don’t smoke, and avoid exposure to second hand smoke.  Be smart about food and alcohol poisoning by keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and keeping alcohol out of reach of children. 

Keep your spine in line by continuing chiropractic care.   I often hear “I’m not coming in for my adjustment because I think I’m coming down with something.”  Actually, that is the BEST time to come in.  Regular chiropractic adjustments restore the body to its optimal form and function, allowing you to be healthy enough to maintain the hectic holiday schedule and be at your best while doing so!