New Year’s is right around the corner, which means you’re probably feeling broke, stressed out, and tired. Negative feelings are a classic diet danger zone, as the temptation to alleviate stress with food becomes more alluring. You can keep those feelings at bay and stick to your medical weight loss plan, though, by nourishing your spirit instead. This year, use these tips to bring harmony when your biggest holiday stressors hit.
Holiday Havoc: Broke and Anxious
We all know the feeling when those seemingly teensy gifts for everyone from your kids’ teachers to your hairdresser leave you with an empty hole in your wallet and that sinking feeling in your stomach. When this happens, it’s tempting to look at what you don’t have financially (and what you wish you did) and soothe the anxiety with food.
Harmony Rx: Have a Gratitude List
This is a simple yet effective way to banish bad thoughts. Research on optimism show that people who focus on all the blessings in their lives are happier (and probably less likely to medicate with food!) than those who don’t. A gratitude list is a great way to keep those blessings top of mind. Take just five minutes to jot down the five or so biggest blessings you have in your life: your health, family, friends, or an awesome pet are all worthy of the list. At the top of the paper (or on your smartphone), write ‘I am grateful for…’ and list them all. Put the paper in your wallet or purse, and pull it out at least once a day and anytime you’re feeling anxious or find yourself wishing for something you don’t have.
Holiday Havoc: Feeling Fatigued
Being overwhelmed and stressed out are great ways to ensure complete exhaustion before the end of a December day. Before you reach for a 600-calorie Starbucks creation, try some easy non-caffeinated ways to stay energetic.
Harmony Rx: Get a Daily Mood and Energy Booster
The key to maintaining your energy and mood is to pay attention to them before you become overly tired. Schedule a couple five-minute mini breaks during your workday to do it. Since December days are short, most of us leave work after the sun has gone down. We all know how important sunlight is to feeling good, so spend at least one of your mini-breaks outside in the sunshine, if possible. (If you can walk aroundoutside a bit, even better!) Consider spending another break sitting quietly while doing some deep breathing and focusing on clearing your mind. Once you’re out braving holiday crowds and find your energy sagging, consider carrying around a meaningful object in your pocket. Maybe it’s a seashell from last summer’s vacation, or a rock your son picked up on your last walk. Whatever it is, touching it in your pocket while concentrating on deep breathing will help when the madness of the season threatens to consume you.
Holiday Havoc: Out of Time
Do two things get added to your holiday to-do list for every item you cross off? If so, you’re not alone. Feeling pressed for time is a common complaint this time of year, and its diet-busting counterpart—the fast-food meal—can become a common remedy. The real solution? Give yourself enough downtime to appreciate what really matters during the holidays.
Harmony Rx: Replace Your To-Do List with Me Time
First, schedule in at least 15 (and preferably 30) minutes of ‘Me Time’ each day. What you do with this time is up to you, as long as it involves a non-eating activity you find relaxing. Consider a DIY foot massage or pedicure, make a delicious and healthy recipe you can enjoy after a long day of errands, or catch up on Facebook. Second, take a good look at your holiday to-do list: Do you really need to make dozens of kinds of appetizers for your New Year’s party? Do you have to see every single person you know before the end of the year? You know the answer. Only do what you can handle in the time you have. Now look for ways you can ease the time burden of what’s left on your list. Sufficient relaxation and creative problem-solving are the keys to enjoying the season as it was meant to be.
Suja Pilli, MD
Shaun J. Adams, MSN, FNP-C