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Bust The Holiday Stress Cycle

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza, the holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, they are filled with anxiety and stress. You can set yourself on a more positive path – and bust the holiday stress cycle – when you understand the how to best support your body for joy.

When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you about your choices the way your family will. What we don’t realize is that we are self-medicating with sweets – the quick spike of sugar in our system can bring an increase in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. Sadly, the benefit is fleeting, and we find ourselves reaching for another fix.

How do we bust the holiday stress cycle? First admit that it’s a problem, and then consciously choose some strategies to support a different outcome. I am offering you these tips for boosting your energy and outlook through these coming weeks.

Be active

Instead of reaching for the holiday goodies when you feel a lag in energy, get outside in the fresh air for a walk, hit the gym, chase your kids in the yard, or just do something physical that appeals to you. You’ll release the stress and the exercise will help release the proper chemicals in your brain to make you feel better.

Workout your mind

Your brain needs exercise too! Rather than allowing your mind to dwell on the negative things that push you toward those cookies, give your mind something constructive to do. Take 10 to 20 minutes to yourself to read something engaging for you, or work on a crossword puzzle or something else that stimulates your mind in an enjoyable way. I use my Sudoku app for this purpose. It will help you feel refreshed.

Focus on healthful eating

While it’s true that the holidays are certainly a time for more indulgent meals, when you focus on your healthful eating prior to those big family dinners, it won’t be such a shock to your waistline. Make sure you’re eating meals that have a small amount of protein, a portion of good fat, minimal grain-based carbs and lots of vegetables. Don’t skip meals. If you starve yourself all day because your job or your family (or both!) is making you nuts, you’re more prone to stuffing yourself at dinner with things that aren’t very healthful.

Practice moderation

Yes, there are certainly foods we only get to enjoy during this time of year. But again, eating all of them isn’t going to do any good. So indulge mindfully and moderately. Looking forward to your sister’s famous pecan pie? Then focus on eating that when the time comes and say no to treats that aren’t as delicious.

Forgive yourself and others

No one is perfect. If you find you caved in to peer pressure at work and ate treats you declared you wouldn’t, forgive yourself and move on. Take a deep breath or two and release the situation. Get back on track with the next food choice and move your body. But above all, keep your head up and your focus on gratitude.

Make gratitude your focus

I have noticed that more and more people are recognizing how a gratitude practice is  profound in its effects. It isn’t time consuming – you are simply recording 3-5 things for which you are grateful on a daily basis. I have found it helpful to write these on an index card to review throughout the day. Something as simple as being thankful for the poinsettia arrangement my husband brought home, or the uplifting smells of spices, can shift my energy … and yours.

YOU are on my gratitude list. I am thankful for all who recognize that they have a choice related to their health. I’m passionate about encouraging the choices that will support their body and supporting those who prioritize their pursuit of wellness!

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

A Matter of Perspective

Many of my friends are expressing thankfulness each day this month with a post on Facebook. Have you seen these posts in your newsfeed? Perhaps you are posting your own expressions of gratitude.

Or perhaps you struggle with this practice. I have to admit, I have not been very consistent with gratitude journal entries, and I’ve wondered why.

I have had clients who struggled with this as well. In their head they knew that it was a good practice, but felt there was a hindrance. You too? Read more

Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude

gratitudeWhat is your focus in these last few days before Thanksgiving? Are your thoughts dominated with a grocery list for the food you will prepare, the arrangements that must be made for guests, the seating arrangements or perhaps the calorie overload that comes with the traditional feast? Or perhaps your primary thought is where you will settle for your post-turkey nap?

All of these demands on your attention are significantly contributing to your stress level, which hinders your digestion, affects your cardiovascular and respiratory function, and makes you susceptible to viral illness.

There is a fairly simple practice that can improve your health, your relationships, your emotions, and your career … all in only 5 minutes a day. Curious?
Read more

Five Ways That Gratitude Nourishes Life

GratefulThe Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching and thoughts are turning to how many will gather, what to include in the menu and counting our blessings. I would like to suggest, however, that you not wait for a holiday to practice gratitude, but begin to cultivate it as a daily practice.

Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous! Read more