November 25, 2013

How Do You Handle Holiday Stress?

Many people are telling us how to minimize the stress of the holiday season. Some pointers are excellent, some are okay, and others almost seem to create more stress than help reduce stress. I am looking at this as a person with diabetes. What works for some may not work for all of us. Stress makes management of blood glucose levels more difficult.

The following are suggestions that may help:

#1. Manage your expectations: Relax, relax, and do not put on perfection, especially if you are the hostess or host. Stay within yourself and you will succeed. Be careful not to expect too much that can lead to creating stress and disappointment.

#2. Add a good night's sleep to your list: It does not matter whether you are the host or just an invitee; make sure to get enough sleep. Being in a bad mood will not serve you well in any case. Do yourself a favor and get the sleep you need.

#3. Mind your sleep schedule over the holidays: Just because it is the holidays, you would be better served maintaining a sensible schedule with regular sleep. Getting the sleep you need will make diabetes management easier. Even my wife found out that I do better and am more at ease with more sleep.

#4. Avoid "crashing": How true this is. You do not need the bloating and spikes in blood glucose during the holidays. When you let this happen, you will most often regret this in the days following. Eating what you need is one thing, but avoid the carb dense foods and maintain a healthy food plan. Select low carb fruits and vegetables that will last until the next meal. A good food plan will include a protein source that contains the fat you need. You will feel better in the days following by sticking to your meal plan.

#5. Know your limits: Stay away from relatives that insist on airing all the dirty laundry at the dinner table. When my great uncle was alive, I never liked family gatherings as I knew what the topic of conversation would be. Twice I refused to go with my parents to family gatherings and finally my mother asked why. I told her I did not like my great uncle and the way he constantly was running someone in the family down. I said it ruined the day for me and I preferred to be happy at home. Surprise, we all stayed home and had a great day. Even today, I generally will avoid gatherings where someone is constantly trying to ruin the day for others.

#6. Make time for you: Yes, make time for yourself and put yourself first for a short time. The holidays seem to make people put others ahead of themselves and this can be harmful if one does this to an extreme. Always set time aside for yourself and allow time to unwind and relax before bedtime. Go for a brisk walk or have a good soak in the tub before bedtime to let the stress of the day melt away.

#7. Still tossing and turning all night?: This is not what you should do. If this is what you are doing, get up and go to another room where you can occupy yourself with something that relaxes you until you are sleepy. You do need to avoid creating the wrong type of atmosphere in the room where sleep is needed.

#8. Start The Day With Exercise: This is the best way to set the right tone for the day when you know you are going to be surrounded by food all day. Any type of exercise will work, but be sure to make it long enough to help burn a few hundred calories. Not only will exercise do this, but for many, it can help suppress your appetite. Next, eating all day will cause less desire to exercise. Finally, the morning exercise will put you in a frame of mind to help you resist the high calorie food in the food available to you for the day. This should put you ahead for the day and by repeating this morning routine, should help immensely during the holidays.

Happy Holidays!

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