Dec 08,2020--Controlling Stress during the holidays: Amid a pandemic!--By Nita Bijoor, MD
This year is particularly going to be unlike any holiday most of us have experienced in our lifetime. As the CDC has offered guidelines for what not to do and what to do, let’s focus on how we can manage the stress of it all.
BREATHE–IS DR. BIJOOR’S PNEUMONIC FOR THE HOLIDAYS-
BREATHE: Practice deep breathing exercises or meditate. This takes time to master, but it’s not hard. There are several good apps that you can get for free that can help with this (Kardia – Deep Breathing Relaxation and The Breathing App are good). Also, doing yoga can help alleviate stress. Controlling stress is really one of the hardest things we are faced with everyday, and deep belly breathing can make a huge difference.
REST: No, this is not counterproductive to moving. It is especially important during the season to chill out when you can. Carve out 30 minutes to take a nap, read a book, sit by the fire, stay off the computer and phone… you get the picture. We overeat when we are tired and make poor decisions, especially when it comes to food. Most importantly, get a good night’s sleep. 7-8 hours is key for most mortals.
EAT A RAINBOW: Food is powerful medicine. Eat the rainbow and limit holiday snacking. Sugary foods will make us feel great for a bit, but the sugar crash is real. Sugar is highly addictive, so we crave it to make us feel better. You will not be perfect, as some of us are overcompensating for the unusual events right now, by eating poorly. Eating fruits and veggie in season, limiting animal can help your body fight the low immune system that can be caused by stress
ACTIVE- Physical activity is so important during this time. Even if you don’t have an exercise routine, you can still be active. Examples can be as simple as taking a walk, to pulling weeds. If you take just 30 minutes of your day and move, you can make real change. Physical activity will help you feel better, have more energy and can help with the sadness that some feel during the holidays. Include your close family members by taking brisk walks to help curb cravings and boredom (which makes us eat things we should not).
TREASURE THE TRADITIONS: Even though things look and feel different this year, it’s important to maintain your traditions you’ve had through the years. Putting up a tree, playing music, baking, etc can have a positive effect on your outlook. It’s ok to scale back but do the things you and your family love about the holidays.
HONOR YOUR LOVED ONES: Many of us know people that we have lost to this covid 19 pandemic, whether friends or family members. It is a time to be thankful and have gratitude for the goodness in others.
ENJOY: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be realistic. We are mere mortals, my friends, so there will be a time when willpower fails us. If you eat that one thing you know you shouldn’t, acknowledge it and then let it go. Learn to say “No thank you” when offered an activity or gathering that will stress you out. Learn from the slips and try to do better the next time. Enjoy any downtime you get and hug your loved ones (at least the ones you can!)