Diet Articles

Article: Holiday Stress Doesn't Mean you Have to Eat

It's that time of year! Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays, you can't escape the frenzy that happens during December. Even when you are personally trying to stay calm and happy, you have to put up with the those who aren't quite so peaceful.

I'm not doing so well with this myself! Lately, it seems like I'm constantly dealing with bad drivers and grouchy people. Before long, I've soaked up so much of the tension around me that I want to shout, "Watch out everybody! I only have one nerve left, and you're getting on it!"

When people list their reasons for doing emotional eating, stress and fatigue usually rank at the top. And this time of year puts you at risk for way too much of both. When shopping, travel plans or family issues make you feel like you're ready to lose it, you need a quick way to regain your sanity. Here are some tools for "instant" stress recovery.

Do everything slowly

Stress overload shows up in subtle ways. When you drive past your highway exit, run into doorways, or threaten to kick the dog, you need to regain a sense of control. Whenever you feel pushed to the breaking point, intentionally slow yourself down.

For a couple of hours or even the rest of the day, consciously talk, move, drive, even clean house at a slower pace than usual. Slowing down puts you back in charge and prevents you from adding more hassles on top of coping with your overwhelmed life.

Give total focus

When stress makes you feel scattered and unable to concentrate, take a few minutes to mentally shut out everything around you and give total focus to someone or something. If you're with other people, look into their eyes and listen to the conversation as if there was no one else in the world.

With your children, kneel down at their level and be totally present with them and their needs. If you are reading a book or working on a project, concentrate entirely on what's in front of you. A few minutes of total focus will calm you down and give you a sense of emotional control.

Light a candle

When your mind is racing, here's a great way to calm it back down and quiet your spirit. Stop your activity and light a candle. Then sit quietly and gaze at it for several minutes. Notice the way the flame moves and shifts. Watch for the tendrils of smoke rising from it.

Allow yourself to feel warm and cozy inside, as though the flame slipped inside your body and became part of your heart. When you finish, notice the sense of renewal that comes from allowing quietness and light to replace the noise in your head.

Linda Spangle, RN, MA, is a weight-loss coach specializing in emotional eating, and the author of 100 Days of Weight Loss, a book of daily lessons that helps people stay committed to their diet and exercise plans. Her website is:

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