De-Stressing the Holidays

Stress is an inevitable part of modern living, but does that mean it has to dictate your behavior and your health?

This is the busiest time of year for me work-wise, and it’s only getting started. Last year, I managed to stay relatively fit during the holiday season, but I did stress eat quite a bit. I would like to find a way to better manage my stress so it doesn’t so deeply affect my lifestyle on a personal level. That’s my personal goal for this holiday season: to stay healthy (mind and body) while not letting the stress and nonstop anxiety of my job get to my head.

But does anticipating the stress help you better manage it? I’m not so sure.

Yesterday I started the day with the best of intentions. I was going to eat mindfully. I was going to be thankful for my food. I was going to enjoy my food. But as the day wore on it became increasingly busy and stressful, with disagreements between the teams and confusion and chaos. We have two events coming up in the next week, and both need a continuous amount of attention. No matter how many events you plan, they never become easier, especially one in which there are dozens of people and egos involved. So the day and the chaos wore on, with me and my team putting out one fire, only to find another one had started somewhere else. Not exactly good for the adrenals.

By the evening, I was facing the prospect of not having a set of documents ready and printed out for the next day. I’d brought dinner to work, so around 7:45pm I broke out my dinner and ate it. But after eating, I felt that the dinner wasn’t going to be enough on its own, so I also had a bag of peanuts. Then I went home and snacked on some more nuts, yogurt and chocolate. It wasn’t anything inherently bad or unhealthy, but I wasn’t hungry and I knew I was just eating out of the need for some physical sensation to blunt the feelings. I was using food as a stress relief, even though my body didn’t want it. My mind wanted it, and my mind usually wins out on these matters. The worst part was I knew exactly what I was doing, but I simply didn’t care. I needed the food as a salve for my crazy monkey mind, and ignored all the good intentions I’d started the day with in favor of immediate, short-term relief.

Am I proud of myself? Not exactly. Am I mad at myself? Not exactly, either. I want to understand how I threw my good intentions straight out the window. I want to do better.

So what to do next time?

  • Sit down to eat my food
  • Eat slowly, over the course of 20 minutes
  • Actually take the time to taste and savor my food
  • Set the table especially on days I don’t feel like it, and take the time to make my food look good

We’ll see how it goes today. The best you can do is try, try again.

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