The Thanksgiving holiday was later than usual this year, so it’s now reality that we have 24 shopping days until Christmas. For many of us, the holiday means we’ll have more ‘to-do’s– put up the tree, shop for gifts, attend holiday parties, and prepare for visits with family. This will be in addition to the usual work and family obligations, which can make December downright overwhelming.
My overzealous, high-D personality makes me prone to stress, even without the holidays, so you can imagine that I go into overdrive this time of year.
This year, however, I’m taking a different approach.
It’s funny that sometimes we hear a message at the exact time we need it. Such was the case for me after listening to our November Vistage speaker, Daniel Miller. Simplistic but impactful, his talk was the wake-up call I needed to make changes for the holidays – and all year long. He offered six ways to transform – and extend our life. I’m going to share the three that resonated that most with me because my husband and my team have already seen the difference! Perhaps these tips can help you, too.
1. Stress less. A whopping 70-90% of all doctors' visits can be attributed to stress. That’s astronomical. And, the worst part? Stress isn’t real! As Miller says, “unless a bear is chasing you, you shouldn’t be experiencing stress.” It’s true. “Stressing” unnecessarily, as we do, releases a false start of stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline), which causes our heart rate and blood pressure to rise. And, that’s hurting our body. Some simple tactics to relieve stress include meditation (being fully present) for 20 minutes a day, writing down what causes you stress and creating an action plan for how you will eliminate it, and engaging in short bursts of intense physical activity. Meditation has been a work in progress for me, but documenting the source of my stress, has been truly freeing – especially when I actually address it!
2. Sleep. We need a minimum of seven hours of sleep to fully function. A lot of us, myself included, fail to get the sleep we need because of our bad habits. We work too late, we’re binge-watching Stranger Things or we toss and turn to the beat of the incessant monkey banging in our brain (a byproduct of stress!). By taking the small measures to stress less, I have told the monkey to shut up! And, while Ballers and just about any reality TV show are still my vice, I am getting into the habit of shutting them off before passing out on the couch! Even work – my biggest challenge – didn’t suffer because I decided to call it a night. In fact, the extra hours of sleep have made me more productive during the day!
3. Sweat. Miller says a small dose of stress makes you less fragile and can help your body flush germs and dying cells. He recommends that we get our body temperature to 101 degrees for thirty minutes, three times per week. This will help to prevent chronic illness by killing bad cells before they make you sick. I recently re-joined the YMCA so I can use the sauna a few times each week. While I am hopeful it will help me to avoid sickness this winter, I’ve already realized other benefits of this exercise such as less stress, a more restful sleep, renewed energy, and a sense of calm. Not bad for sitting in warmth and ‘sweating it out'!
Miller also emphasized the importance of proper nutrition (eat whole, natural foods), hydration (drink three liters of water per day; minimize caffeine, sugar, and alcohol), and movement (walk 10,000 steps per day; engage in (HIIT) high-intensity interval training). I’ve also incorporated these recommendations into my daily routine.
I am taking baby steps with all six of his recommendations, but I feel so much better after only 10 days. By minimizing my stress, getting my ZZZs and breaking a sweat, I already feel energized and refreshed! I’m beginning to ask myself what took me so long to make these changes?
If you’re feeling sluggish, overwhelmed or hurried, take some time to focus on you. It’s truly a gift you can give yourself for the holidays. And, it’s a gift that keeps on giving as others around you will be impacted by your renewal, as well.
Have a fantastic holiday season! Namaste!