November 27, 2014

5 Unusual Ways to Stay Emotionally Balanced through the Holidays.

5 tips to avoid holiday burnout

Halloween is in our rear view mirror and we’re speeding towards not only the holidays, but also towards the destination of burnout.

Foods we don’t usually eat, later nights than usual, holiday expectations, family dynamics and the financial stress of gift buying can send even the strongest person right over the edge.  It’s no surprise so many of us start the new year feeling exhausted and sick.

How to skip symptoms of burnout? I’ve got five easy ways to carve out a little sanity amongst the chaos.

Holiday Survival 101.

1.Drink up to your heart’s content.

Up your water intake, especially when drinking alcohol. A good rule of thumb? Two eight ounce glasses of water for every alcoholic drink.

Dehydration, which naturally occurs when we’re drinking, dancing or running around like crazy on a busy shopping day forgetting to hydrate, suppresses the immune system.

According to the findings of F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., as published in the October 1987 Journal of Anticancer Research:

“Dehydration suppresses the immune system in many different ways. Just to name a few: first, histamine production in the body is increased, which also increases the production of a chemical called vasopressin, a strong suppressor of the immune system. Second, excess histamine also causes the shutdown of interferon, a critical anticancer chemical that is present in a hydrated body. And third, histamine suppresses immune activity in the bone marrow, which is the central production center of the white blood cells—the immune cells that can destroy and digest cancer cells.” 

For me, living at 5400 feet above sea-level, I drink four quarts a day. Not only does it make my already dehydrated skin look better, but I also have more energy and stay well all season long. An added bonus? Having a healthy snack and drinking a large glass of water before a party fills me up so I can enjoy a sampling of appetizers vs. stuffing myself after arriving starving.

2. Take a time-out.

Remember time-outs when you were a kid? 

Back then you probably considered them punishment but today they will save you from punishing yourself. Taking small breaks throughout the day for me-time isn’t self indulgent, it’s necessary during the holidays.

How to find the time?

  • Turn your cell phone off during your lunch break and actually take a break.
  • Start your day without the internet by giving yourself some peace and quiet within the first hour of waking. You may be running around making breakfast and starting your day, but you don’t have to add in the mental mind candy of the internet too.  It will be there when you’re actually ready to greet the world.
  • Drive with your cell phone in the backseat. Being present is not only safe, but those brief stop light stops are great times to take three slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to calm your nervous system.

3. Vegetables are your friends for surprising reasons. 

I love holiday food as much as the next person, but consuming all that traditional whipped, melted and creamy goodness can cause a mucus response that leads to congestion, trouble sleeping and intestinal duress. Making sure you eat something green at every meal not only helps to curb your appetite, it also aids digestion and lowers stress levels.

According to Dr. Mercola: 

“Move over mac-and-cheese… vegetables are the REAL comfort foods, with nutrients that actually improve your resilience to stress. Eating vegetables helps replenish your magnesium and vitamin C, which can be depleted by stress.

Vegetables also provide you with omega-3 fats and B vitamins, proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. The vitamin K in veggies helps reduce inflammation in your body, which stress can aggravate.

Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, are loaded with magnesium, which helps balance your cortisol, one of your “stress hormones.” Magnesium and potassium relax blood vessels, helping keep your blood pressure low”.

4. Tell yourself different holiday stories.

There’s nothing like returning home to family to re-trigger old emotional patterns. Ever wonder why the minute you walk through your parent’s front door, you find yourself acting 12 years old again? There’s an emotional bouillabaisse of memories there for you to re taste aren’t there?

When you find yourself feeling triggered by a family member, escape to a quiet place like the bathroom and reality check yourself. Tell yourself five things about your current life that have nothing to do with where you are right now. Close your eyes and take those three breaths I mentioned in my second point, then come up with three reasons the person triggering you might have for acting the way they do that have nothing to do with you personally.

By removing ourselves from the scene of family dynamics for a few moments, we diffuse our knee jerk reactions that usually stem from childhood. By reminding yourself of five things about your current life, you’ll pull yourself into present moment versus the past—and when you come up with a few other reasons a family member might be saying or doing something, it further removes you from the story you’re writing in your head and diffuses an emotional response.

5. Remove yourself from the scene of drama.

Avoid additional stress during the holidays by refusing to participate in the drama unfolding around you. Whether the drama is in your workplace, home or shopping center, remind yourself not my circus, not my monkey. 

Easier said than done eh?  Here are a few tips:

  • Hold your tongue and remind yourself that most people aren’t going to change.  You’ve only got so much emotional energy to spend—do you really want to spend it on the situation at hand?
  • Take a walk outside solo. Tuning into the world around you through your senses brings you into the present moment where peace resides.
  • Put that adrenaline running through your body to better use. Go for a run, grab a yoga class, or drop into a local gym for an hour and burn the drama out of your mind. When we stay in the midst of drama, it’s almost impossible to not be drawn in.

Part of what makes the holidays so special is being around family, experiencing the joy of giving, the indulgence of special food and drink, and the fun of holiday parties.  It’s super okay to dive into all of it, we’ve just got to remember ways to come up for air.

Post adapted with permission from Daily Transformations

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Author: Tamara Star

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: danaberlith on Flickr.

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