Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself During the Holidays
Life can be demanding, leaving us feeling wrecked and stressed especially at this time of year. But have you noticed that some days you handle it better than others? Resilience isn’t a static trait—it’s like a muscle that weakens or strengthens and you get to decide if you work it or not. Don’t be defenseless when faced of stress, build resilience by addressing these five lifestyle factors everyday:
Chew on it: There is a connection between the quality and the quantity of food we eat and our energy levels, our mood, and our general health and well-being. Sometimes, it’s difficult to see the connection. A food diary can be a great tool to assess your current eating habits. Add a stress rating to the diary so you can see how your food intake is linked to your daily level of stress.
Get Physical: Well, we all know that exercise is important for physical health and well-being. Being active also improves mood, lowers anxiety levels, and reduces our vulnerability to stress. Get started by finding something you enjoy and can maintain: daily walks with a friend, Pilates, spin classes, cardio tennis, training for a fun run, sit-ups at home. And, yes, sex counts! While you are working out how to include daily physical activity in your life, try to incorporate incidental exercise by parking further away from your destination or going up stairs rather than lifts. Remember that any steps made toward a more active lifestyle are beneficial.
Sleep Deep: Quantity and quality of sleep are important factors to responding well to stress. People usually need between six and nine hours. If you are getting this and are still feeling tired, the quality of your sleep may be the problem. Difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking, sleep apnea, and not enough hours in deep sleep may all be factors that leave you feeling fatigued during the day. If sleep is a problem area for you, you can use devices like Jawbone or FitBit to monitor and record your sleeping patterns (or record in a sleep diary), and then see a specialist about your concerns.
Chemical Reactions: The use or overuse of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, over-the-counter medications and recreational substances can all affect your vulnerability and responses to stress. Conversely, not taking medications as prescribed can also have negative effects and make you more vulnerable to stressful conditions. If you’re chemically reacting, take steps to adjust your intake and seek support if needed.
Mejuvenate: Taking time for yourself is paramount to maintaining resilience. Me time is a mix of ‘alone’ time as well as time socializing with others. Choose activities that are fun, relaxing, comforting, entertaining or amusing. Whether alone or with others, making room for pleasant activities is necessary for optimal emotional health.