In our previous post we discussed how the holiday season can create many disruptions in our daily routines. Travel, family dynamics, a burnt (or raw) turkey, finances, loss of loved ones or loss from a disaster, can add to the stresses that may already be present in our lives. Maintaining your health and fitness during this potentially stressful season can be challenging. However, by creating awareness around potential triggers you can successfully manage these stressful times. In Part Two of our Six Part Series for Navigating the Holiday Season we’ll talk about “The Stress Bucket” and share strategies that can keep it from spilling over.
Imagine a bucket with water inside… The “stress bucket” represents our capacity to cope with stress and the water level represents our stress load. The more demands, or stressors there are in our lives, the higher the water level rises. The following is a short list of things that can add to that stress load:
- Work - work load, the commute, relationships, loss of a job
- Family - dynamics, relationships, loss of a family member
- Health - wanting to lose a few pounds, illness or disease
- Finances - cost of travel, unseen expenses, bills, gifts
- Environment - media, food toxicity, air quality
- Lifestyle Choices - diet, alcohol, caffeine, medications
During the holidays it can be possible to experience all of these at once, leading to an overflow of water into our stress buckets. The more water flowing in, the more likely it is that we will no longer be able to manage our stress.
The following “Strategies” act as faucets to help us cope with the stressors and prevent the water level from getting too high.
- Sleep - 7-8hrs nightly and 1-2hrs before midnight. Lack of sleep can dramatically increase the effects of stress.
- Proper Nutrition- Eat at regular times daily. Eat to feeling “satisfied” and not “stuffed”. Include protein and vegetables at each meal.
- Water- Drink 1oz of water for every 2lbs of bodyweight daily (150# person = 75oz water daily).
- Sunlight / Vitamin D - Get outside, go for a walk or hike and get sun exposure whenever possible.
- Physical Activity- 30-60min of physical activity daily.
- Meditation - Spend 10min a day sitting in silence, breathing or meditating.
- Belonging to a Community- Surrounding yourself with others on a similar journey is one of the best ways to ensure success and gain encouragement. This could include your gym, church or other community group.
- Healthy Relationships- Spend time with friends and family that encourage and build you up. Avoid relationships that drain you and leave you feeling empty.
By implementing these strategies we can grow our capacity and resilience for coping with stress. Its important to “Make Good Choices”, “Problem Solve” and “Ask for Support”. Each of these strategies can help us keep the water level in our Stress Buckets from reaching the top and overflowing.