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Beating the Last-Minute Stress

Start with year-end deadlines, add a few holiday cookies and some spiked eggnog, mix in late nights with too little sleep, and top it off with pressure to find the perfect gifts and plan the perfect, show-stopping holiday meal.  What do you get?  STRESS!!! 

What can you do to avoid turning to DESSERTS (that’s STRESSED spelled backwards) for relief? 

  • Just Say No! to over-indulging in cookies and eggnog.  Think about how you will feel (physically and emotionally) 10 minutes or one hour after you eat or drink too much.  Is it really worth it? 
  • Just Say No! to any tasks that aren’t absolutely necessary.  Let them go!  Haven’t finished writing your Christmas cards?  No worries.  Send your cards a week later and make them Happy New Year cards.  Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t get this done in the next week?”
  • Lower Your Expectations.  Voltaire put this much more eloquently:  “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”  By demanding perfection of yourself and others, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and set yourself up for failure and/or disappointment.  If you’re a perfectionist, try using the phrase “Good Enough” The holiday meal doesn’t have to be perfect to be tasty, enjoyable, and memorable. 
  • Slow down and smell the Poinsettias.  Take time to enjoy the holiday light displays, build a snowman, or go sledding or ice skating—whatever makes the holiday season special to you.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.  Alcohol lowers inhibitions (which may lead to over-eating) and can aggravate stress.  Remember what Bob Wright says:  “Resolve dissolves in alcohol.”  Limit yourself to 1 alcoholic drink per day for women, 2 drinks per day for men. 
  • Make time for at least a little physical activity.  It’s tempting to skip your workout when it’s crunch time.  However, physical activity can reduce your stress, improve your sleep, and make you more productive.  If you don’t have time for 45-60 minutes, make time for a 10-20 minute walk or other activity,
  • Make healthy food choices.  Eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provides energy and prepares your body to respond to the physical challenge of stress.  Be sure to get plenty of vitamin C (needed to produce adrenaline when you are under stress).  Fruit (especially citrus fruit) and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. 
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