Holiday Stress: Navigate Food and Family triggers

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November 24, 2020

Its official, the holiday season is here! My inbox is flooded with sales and deals, gift exchanges are starting and if you’re on the east coast it’s brisk outside. I’d like to normalize the fact that holidays aren’t always cozying up by the fire, sipping wine, having deep chats and shitting out candy canes, contrary to what we might have seen in Hallmark movies growing up. I promise you I’m not a grinch, my heart is full of gratitude and warmth these days, however I know how it feels to want to love the holidays and also dread them at the same time.

A warm place to celebrate the holidays full of family and food is a privilege. Whether you feel challenged by food, family dynamics or financial stressors, it’s all valid and you’re not alone.

I used to have lots of negative thoughts leading up to a holiday celebration, while gripping to high expectations of what the holidays “ should be.”

It would go something like this:

“ What should I have for breakfast? no carbs, yeah eff carbs“

“Maybe I’ll skip breakfast all together, or should I have a bagel today is going to be a wash anyway”

“ I need to workout really hard this week because Thursday is gonna be bad”

“Wow, that person is so much further along in life than I am.”

“I have nothing to contribute to this conversation”

“I’m only eating vegetables tomorrow”

“They are definitely judging me right now, I’m so awkward.”

…..You get the idea

This season can be triggering and tough. It can also be a time of joy, chaos and connection. Most likely for most a mix of both, because hey- to be human<3

Here are some tips to navigate and normalize stress this time of year

  1. Come back to your breath. ALWAYS

    You can access your breath at any given moment, consider it a super power. Practice mindful breathing before you respond to someone or before you take the next bite. Utilizing breath creates space between an event and a response. Use your breath to connect to yourself.

  2. Externalize your negative voice

    Increase awareness of your negative thoughts and externalize them. Often times my clients will put a name to their negative voice, honoring the negative voice is not their truth, rather a hostile critic.

  3. Eat a nutrient dense breakfast and lunch

    Don’t skip meals, eat a nutrient dense breakfast and lunch, allow your metabolism to start working for you early in the day to avoid shocking your body and blood sugar levels with a larger meal and foreign foods. Starting your day with a solid meal will keep you in touch with your food cravings.

  4. Focus on the experience

    Use mindfulness to soak up the experience, what can you smell, taste, see, touch and hear. Tune into the conversation, the decor of the room, light a candle and take stock of the moment at hand.

  5. Neutralize Food

    When you walk into a room and see a spread on a table you might begin to notice automatic thoughts labeling food as either “yes”/ “no” or “good”/ “bad.” Neutralize your food by detaching from labels and listening to your body.

  6. Make a plate and walk away, don’t table hover

    Make a plate of appetizers or whatever might be out, sit down and eat with a family member or yourself in order to avoid hovering over the table dropping into mindless eating.

  7. Walk it out

    Take an after dinner walk, allow your body to digest and give yourself a chance to connect with yourself or the people you’re with.

  8. Hold gentle boundaries

    If Uncle Larry can’t resist talking to you about your politics or asking you about you’re relationship status draw a gentle boundary. This sounds like “ I’d rather not talk about that right now.” or “I’m not up for talking about that but I’d love to hear how you’re doing.”

  9. Don’t compare someone else’s outsides to your insides

    Over the course of the holiday season you might run into people you haven’t seen in a while thinking “wow they seem to have it all together.” Comparison steals joy! Replace self comparison with self compassion. Catch yourself in the moment and come back to that breathe.

  10. Acceptance & Awareness

    Practice acceptance and let go of the need to control. This year is different than others, your gatherings might be smaller the excitement might be less and the traditions might have shifted. Not to mention, it is beyond normal to feel more full than usual on a day like Thanksgiving, an extra few bites might be part of mindfully enjoying the day. Utilize awareness to know what you can control and acceptance to let go of the rest 😉


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