December 14, 2017 | Categories: Health
While the holidays are a time of fun and socializing, they can also be a source of stress. Whether you’re trying to meet end-of-year work deadlines, plan family gatherings, or jam in some shopping, it can feel like something’s got to give. For many of us, healthy habits are the first thing to go. While you can’t cut stress completely, there are simple ways you can take care of your needs. Try these:
The one thing that many of us skimp on is getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. “Think of sleep like a bank: If you withdraw from it one night by staying out too late, you have to put back in within the next few days to maintain your balance,” says Jaie Bosse, health consultant and founder of Illuminating Health in Philadelphia. Try a small tryptophan-rich snack before bed to help induce sleep, says Ricki Jacobson, R.N., M.S.N., founder of The Inspired Health Coach in Blue Bell. Bananas, figs, nuts, and seeds are good options.
Sweet treats are everywhere right now. But if you overindulge regularly, you’ll damage your energy as well as your waistline. “Sugar gives you a high one minute then causes your blood sugar to drop, and that makes your mood and energy plummet,” Jacobson says. Caffeine can have similar effects. Enjoy holiday treats in moderation, like on weekends, and limit caffeine to one cup a day in the morning, says Bosse.
“Take time for stress management,” says Bosse. “That could be meditation, yoga, or walking. Whatever it is you prefer, make it part of your daily routine.” Or try the “20-breath technique” if you only have a few minutes, she says. Here’s how to do it: Sit in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath in, and release out, saying “one”in your head. Continue until you reach ten breaths, then count back down for a total of 20 breaths. This resets your high-stress “fight-or-flight”response so you’ll feel calmer.
“I make a to-do list two to three weeks prior to my deadlines, then I break it down into daily goals,” says Jacobson. “This calms my anxiety and allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis.” You can also try writing your next day’s to-do list each night so you can hit the ground running in the morning, Bosse says. Or try a free app that can help you manage your tasks digitally, like Remember the Milk
To be more productive and efficient with your time this season, consider scaling back on email and social media temporarily, Bosse says. One way she’s done it herself is by turning off email on her smartphone’s settings. “Now, my regular life isn’t interrupted,” she says. “Instead, I sit down at my computer a few times during the day and check it.” If you need help managing your time, consider using a free computer app, such as focusboosterapp.com or e.ggtimer.com. You can designate a specific amount of time for a task, then you’ll get a reminder when it’s up. When it is, cross off your task, take a quick break to breathe and stretch, then tackle the next item on your to-do list.
This article originally appeared in Independence Blue Cross’ Fall 2014 magazine. See the article on page 7 of the magazine here.
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