Stress to joy

Some say it’s the most magical time of the year. People are in the spirit of giving, celebrating and spending time with loved ones. It’s also one of the more stressful times of the year. There’s presents to buy, extra social engagements, cooking/baking, and more, all while maintaining your regular schedule. Then there is family dynamics. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year there is bound to be at least one family get-together, and let’s be real, not all families get along. This can lead to financial strain, less sleep, more food and lots of stress!

What can you do to go from stress to joy?

Know your limits! Financially and socially set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. Make a list of everyone you need to shop for and how much you have to spend for the season. Divide the total amount among everyone, adjusting for your relationship. Obviously allocating more for your spouse or children than a friend. Don’t forget to factor in money for those you want to show appreciation to, such as a teacher or bus driver. Now I know it’s uncomfortable to exchange gifts with someone and realize that their gift is clearly more expensive than what you are offering. However, focus on a gift being from the heart, rather than a specific dollar amount. Nobody wants to receive a gift that puts the giver in debt. By thinking of your financial limits as healthy boundaries, rather than a budget, sets you up less financial stress in December and January.

Social gatherings this time of year can be really festive, but particularly if you are an introvert, they can be very stressful. Think about your boundaries with this as well. Really think before committing. Take a look at your calendar and make sure that you have time to re-energize between social activities. If you are feeling obligated to be somewhere, perhaps you can attend a portion of the event. Now I’m not saying to not go out and enjoy the holidays, just pace yourself.

Sleep is one of the biggest challenges this time of year, with so much to do, but without sleep, you won’t have the energy to accomplish that list. Planning is key to ensure enough sleep. First start thinking about the next day..what does your day look like and how early will you have to wake up? Now get yourself to bed in time to get adequate sleep. The amount you need to sleep varies from person to person, and I’m sure you know what you need to strive for to be rested. But what if you get yourself to bed, and your mind just won’t stop and you end up tossing and turning? Some believe that Lavender essential oil is very helpful to promoting relaxation and rest. It can be diffused, inhaled, or applied in small quantities directly to your skin. Using quality essential oils, such as Young Living, is important. If you want more information or a resource, do not hesitate to reach out to me!

Another method to help you relax, either throughout your day, or to help you go to sleep, is breathing. I know..we’re breathing all the time, but I mean intentional deep breathing. There are many breathing techniques out there, but really, the key is to inhale and exhale deeply enough that your belly rises and falls. I recommend taking a few deep breaths during the day, whenever you feel tense. At night, focusing on your breathing can help clear your mind and allow you a well deserved rest.

Finally, embrace the uniqueness of the season. Perhaps its lighting candles, or driving around to look at holiday lights, or decorating, baking, or simply watching children’s excited faces. If you pause and take a break from the hustle and bustle, you just might experience less stress, more joy, and maybe even some magic.



Let the eating begin!

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday! Foods I love, family and friends, but no pressure to buy gifts. Unfortunately it’s also the beginning of 4-6 weeks of over-indulgence and temptation. How are you feeling about going into the eating season? Are you concerned about weight gain, or a sugar coma? Allow me to begin this discussion at the beginning..Thanksgiving dinner.

Some people believe in an all or nothing approach when it comes to unhealthy foods, while others believe in all things in moderation. I guess I would say, I’m a mix of the two theories. For me, deprivation leads to a binge on that item once in a while to get that fix. I actually love that I can go to a holiday party and have a few chips (get that fix), but not have any at home to continue eating. As long as I don’t buy chips, I won’t eat the whole bag! However, there are now some foods I never eat, because I have found alternatives and I no longer desire the unhealthy version, so in this sense, the “nothing” approach works. For the most part, I eat a whole food plant-based diet. But, full disclosure, I DO plan to eat turkey next week. In fact, I plan to eat anything I want, in moderation. By that I mean, I’m not planning to eat so much that I have regret the next day. So let’s talk strategies to prevent food remorse.

My family always starts out with a plate of veggies, and often a healthy dip like hummus, for people to munch on while everyone arrives and gets settled. I love this! We get in some nutrients before the meal.

If you’ll be a guest and you want to make sure to get some healthy veggies in, offer to bring them.

Water, water, water! Be sure to drink plenty of water before the big meal.

Be thoughtful of your portions. Start small, and if you are still hungry after eating everything on your plate, then think about adding more. Which brings me to: pause.

Pause and ask yourself, “Am I really still hungry, or do I just want the comfort food?” In other words, do you need more food physically, or do you want it emotionally? Or perhaps you simply want something to do with your hands. Another good question to stop and ask yourself is, “If I have another serving, will I regret it later?” If the answer is yes, then reconsider reaching for more.

Watch your alcohol intake. If you drink alcohol, remember that those are calories too. Also, drinking too much will impair your ability to be conscious of your choices.

Don’t beat yourself up. If you do eat more than you plan to, know that tomorrow is a new day. Instead of thinking of the day after Thanksgiving as black Friday, why not make it Fit Friday?! Celebrate what your body can do by getting in some exercise and making healthy food choices.

The most important tips I have for those who will be indulging in a big Thanksgiving meal, is to be thankful. There are so many in this world who go without, or do not have people to be with on the holiday. Be grateful for the full plate and the opportunity to be with others. Happy Thanksgiving!