Q: Dr. Jody, I love and dread the holidays. Do you have advice to help me make this season a happy and healthy one?!
A: Absolutely! You are not alone! The holidays can be joyful but also very stressful. I have 4 simple steps to set you up for success! My patients have told me that by taking a few minutes to do these four steps, their experience of the holiday season dramatically improved! Read on...
Happy Holidays! Or are they? The holidays can be a bit of a mixed bag.
On one hand, they are a festive time of joyful gatherings, family get-togethers, colorful lights and decorations, a time to give and receive gifts, and to share gratitude, love, and appreciation.
Yet, for many, the holidays are also a time of immense physical and emotional stress which comes from a wide array of events, such as stressful family reunions; overindulgence in food, sugar and alcohol; increased feelings of loneliness and isolation; financial strain; gift-giving pressure; frustrations with over-commercialism; and/or too many social obligations.
Experiencing both joy and stress is likely for most. If you’d like to reduce your stress this holiday season, I strongly encourage you to carve out 15 minutes to do these four simple steps. I guarantee if you do, you’ll enjoy a more joyful holiday season this year!
- Know your OBSTACLES: Sit down and write out where your challenges come from. Is it stress from having to buy gifts? Is it being around all the sugar? Overdoing alcohol? Leaving holiday parties stuffed and mad at yourself? (That used to be mine.) Feeling alone and sad? KNOW your triggers. Write them out. Pretend you are preparing for an event (well, you are) and you’re doing your research to uncover what might go wrong.
- Write out your PLAN: After completing the above, come up with your strategy for how to not let each obstacle get the best of you. Do you need to make sure to never stand near a buffet table? (For me this is my #1 plan!) Always have a glass of water in your hand to avoid being given another drink? Do you limit the number of parties you go to throughout the season to make more down time for yourself? Do you need to perhaps skip certain events to avoid emotional strain? Maybe write out a budget to stick to ensure you don’t overspend. How about write a note about how much you appreciate your friend or loved one as a gift, instead of buying something they might not like? (I did this for my dad last year and he was in tears! I framed it and he said it was the best gift I've ever given him in his life.) Figure out specific and tangible strategies that will give you the strength to not let your obstacles get the best of you, and so you can be happy and healthy all season long.
- Ask for HELP. After you do the two steps above, share them with a friend who can help you stick with them. And ask them if they want to do the same so you can support them too! For example, if eating too much at a party is your obstacle, like it is mine, I will call my friend before the party to state out loud my goal of coming home not-having over-indulged, and then I’ll call her again after the party to announce my success. Many shrug this step off but I encourage you not to. Studies prove that when share your goal with someone who can support you, you dramatically raise your chances of success. You could pick your significant other, a friend, or even use me! I work with patients all season long and have a great program to support you in having a healthy and happy holiday season. My email is drjody (at) drjodynd (dot) com.
- Know what SUCCESS means to you. Without knowing what your goal is, it is hard to reach it. For example, I rarely suggest a goal of absolutely NO sugar. So, if you want to enjoy some but not too much, what does that look like for you? Know how you want to feel physically and emotionally in January. Know what your overall goals are and then back-track to ensure your plan is on track with getting you there.
By doing these simple steps, you will be setting yourself up to enjoy a wonderful holiday season. By doing these simple steps, you can make this your happiest and healthiest holiday season ever! If you'd like my help, just send me an email. drjody (at) drjodynd (dot) com
Dr. Jody Stanislaw, ND, CDE