The holidays are notoriously the most stressful time of year. Let’s face it, the demand for adulting is high, when all we really want to do is revert to the innocence of childhood and just enjoy it.
The holidays don’t have to be quite so stressful, however. A little planning and a lot of self-care will do the trick, according Drs. Michael and Cassie Major of Major Family Chiropractic, who hosted Team Green’s Holiday Stress Management Workshop this past week. The theme of the workshop was “Overcoming Joy Stealers,” which is exactly what this week’s Adventure Blog summarizes.
6 JOY STEALERS
1. Maxing out on Food
Holiday feasts from Thanksgiving through New Years put a heavy emphasis on carbs, meats, and sugars. Did you know that on average individuals gain anywhere from 5-10 lbs during the holidays, and 1-2 of those lbs never go away? Compound that extra weight over several years and you’re looking at a serious weight gain issue. One way to prevent holiday weight gain is to change how you pile your plate. Dr. Cassie Major recommends starting with 60% greens (I’m talking salads and green beans), with 30% of your plate being proteins (meats and nuts) and only 10% carbs.
To help fill you up more quickly, drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a splash of lemon juice on your vegetables to add healthy fats that your body can process naturally. Check out our Nutrition Workshop: Gluten Free Cooking at the Nashville Farmers’ Market with BlissHolistic next Wednesday, December 16th for additional tips to eat a little healthier this time of year!
Hydration is also key. Oftentimes “cravings” to eat when you should be full are symptoms of your brain misinterpreting thirst. Drink a big glass of water before your holiday meals and be sure to consume enough water throughout the day, every day. How much should I drink, you ask? Half of your body weight in ounces, so a 150 lb adult should consume 75 oz daily.
The average American consumes 63 lbs of high fructose corn syrup and 156 lbs of sugar each year, according to the USDA. Even if you cut back on desserts, sodas, and creamers, you’re still consuming sugar in the most unlikely of places, such as bread, ketchup, and even deli meat! Be sure to read your labels. (Shocker: compare one serving of yogurt to one serving of ice cream…. No really, do it!)
“If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it shouldn’t go in your body!” Most of those unpronounceable ingredients will be preservatives or sugar substitutes.
Sugar is known to decrease immune system efficiency and leads to pre-diabetes. Another way to help cut back is to replace artificial sweeteners, sugar, agave, molasses and syrups with natural raw sweeteners like raw local honey, coconut sugar or Stevia. Xylitol is also a good option, but keep it away from your pets. In non-primates, Xylitol is known to rapidly increase blood sugar, and can lead to death (it is now used in peanut butter, so be careful!).
Learn more tips on cutting sugars from our past Adventure Blog: “Curb Your Sugar Cravings.”
3. Lack of Exercise
Leading up to the holidays you’re probably working longer hours to meet year-end deadlines or to get ahead of schedule before vacation. You might also be spending more time shopping or attending social gatherings in the evenings and weekends. If you had a regular workout routine, most likely it has been pushed to the back burner. Reduced exercise with a drastic change in diet will create a chemical imbalance and contribute to fatigue and brain fog.
It only takes 15 minutes of “intense” exercise per day to get your heart rate up, increase your blood flow, flush out negative toxins, and oxygenate the brain. This is something you can do before your morning or evening shower, or during your lunch break! Dr. Michael Major recommends calisthenic workouts at your home or office for just 7-15 minutes a day.
Below are some good options:
-Timed Burpees (1 set= pushup, jump, lower down to pushup position)
-Quick Bike Ride
-Timed circuit with squats, sit ups, pushups, and jumping jacks or jump rope
Team Green Adventures offers a monthly Fitness Workshop Series with Centennial Sportsplex designed to teach new workouts to add to your regular workout routine. Check our Events Calendar on the second Sunday of each month at 2pm, and sign up for free!
4. Sleep Deprivation
Stress can have you lying awake at night… thinking about all the things you’re stressed about. Well, add that to your list, too! Those 7-9 hours of recommended sleep per night are critical for the body and mind to heal properly. Sleep deprivation negatively effects your ability to cope with stress.
Sleeping pills are not the answer, either. Yes, they’ll knock you out, but they won’t give you REM sleep, which is the part of your sleep cycle that allows your body and mind to heal. Instead, try tip number #3 (exercise) to get your body tired enough to override your active brain! If you still need a little help, try Melatonin, a hormone naturally made in the body during sleep, but only take it sparingly to avoid forming a dependency on it. Melatonin can be found in the vitamin supplement section of any pharmacy.
Here’s the most important tip of all: unplug yourself! One hour before bed, put the phone away. Turn off the TV and the computer. Light a candle and get out a book, instead. Play a board game, work on a puzzle, or listen to some soothing music. Lay with your loved ones and just talk. Go for a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. Reduce the intensity of your lights, and keep the room temperature between 68-72 degrees. When it’s time to fall asleep, make the room as dark as possible, or try sleeping with a night mask.
5. The Flu
It’s no wonder the holidays coincide with Flu season. The first four “Joy Stealers” reduce immune system efficiency, plus individuals are spending more time at social gatherings.
Here’s the kicker though. Drs. Michael and Cassie Major recommend allowing your cold and flu systems to run their course. Heading directly to the medicine cabinet at the first sign of a sniffle prevents your body from doing its job properly. Have you ever wondered why you get a fever with the flu? Few viruses or bacteria can survive temperatures above 104 degrees. By allowing your body to run a fever overnight will actually speed up the overall recovery time for your illness. Keep an eye on your fever, however. If it spikes too high or lasts too long it can start to do damage to the body.
We covered this topic in much more depth during our summertime Stress Management Workshop, which you can read about in the Adventure Blog: “Stress… Oh, the Nerve of It!” In sum, we tend to carry stress in our shoulders and back, partly because of our posture at the computer, and partly because we tense up those muscles during stressful situations. Poor posture over time will impact the curvature of our spine, which will compress our spinal cord. Our spinal cord is the “information highway” between our brain and ALL organs. If one section of our spinal cord is pinched by 50%, the organs connect to that section of spinal cord will also only function at 50%.
Adjustments to the spinal column will help to correct your posture, relieve pressure on your spinal cord, and help to improve your overall health… making it one less thing to stress about this holiday season!
The holidays don’t just put a lot of stress on us as individuals, it puts a lot of stress on our hospitals. The holidays are among the busiest times of year with holiday-related injuries, more traffic accidents, and illnesses due to weather. Blood supplies become their lowest, and regular donors can’t meet the demands. That’s why Lightning 100 hosts our annual Holiday Blood Drive, coming up on Thursday, December 17th at the American Red Cross (2200 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN). All donations will directly benefit local hospitals in the Tennessee Valley Region. Give the gift of life, and help reduce the stress of worry for up to 3 patients and their families this holiday season.
-Keeley (Team Green’s Director)