Staying Healthy During The Holidays

The holiday season brings many challenges and trying to stay healthy is one that should be a priority.

The Christmas season ushers in a feast of cakes, ham, candies, and every other type of treat. These are often available in parties or are given to you as a gift. You might as well expect your fridge to be packed with all these things that when you’re hungry, it gets harder to turn these down.

When you’ve totally let go of all your inhibitions, you end up munching on them the entire day. This is when breakfast comes in handy because it’s easier to stay true to your resolve when you don’t feel deprived. Remember, the road to becoming healthy doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t have to equate this lifestyle with tasteless treats. In fact, it’s a matter of being inventive so you can feel better, and more importantly, feel satisfied.

You should make your first meal of the day, breakfast, your most important. You can go for a hearty breakfast and make it appetizing by adding healthy sweets. A good example would be fruits. You can even throw  some yogurt into the mix and make yourself a creamy, guiltless smoothie. You’ll see that as you go through the day, you won’t feel so tortured because you know you have something in your stomach. The best part is that you’ve just prepared yourself with something that’s packed with all the vitamins and nutrients you’ll need to feel great and light. It’s harder to move when you feel heavy. If you need to stuff yourself, go for something that actually does some good.

Try to eat more greens as well. If you know that you’re headed to a party, you can grant yourself some leeway when you hit the buffet table. Just think of the color theme for the yuletide season. Green is there and it’s time to keep that in mind. You can even help yourself establish that mindset by decorating your home with fresh greens that you can actually eat. Get salad recipes that incorporate dressings that taste good but with zero the calories. You’ll be surprised at just how many great ideas you can find if you put in the research. When trying to stay healthy it is time to be creative and try different things like cooking with herbs instead of a lot of salt.

If you still feel hungry in the middle of the day, you can snack on nuts. You might be on vacation, vegging out in front of the TV. This is when your hand gets tempted to reach out for something. Stop yourself when you reach out for that bag of chips. Instead, go for nuts. Not only are these addictive, but these are also high on protein and low on sugar. Nibble on the toasted kind and you’ll see that you won’t feel stuffed when you do and they are a great addition to your diet when you are trying to stay healthy.

The last tip is to keep alcohol at a minimum. During those family gatherings or parties with friends, try to hold the glass for as long as you can. Not only does drinking stimulate appetite, but you can overindulge and become more prone to accidents. Try to alternate drinking alcohol beverages with a glass of water to help decrease your risk of becoming intoxicated and it will decrease the number of calories you consume.

Staying healthy during the holidays just takes a little common sense and motivation.

Learning How To Cope With Panic Attacks During The Holiday Season

One in ten people can expect to have a panic attack at some stage in their life. The busy holiday season such as the Christmas season may set off the first attack or subsequent attacks.

The symptoms may include rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, chest pains, nausea, hot or cold flushes and sense of impending doom.

Panic attack symptoms can last for a few seconds or as long as an hour.

As the fear of having an attack can, ironically, trigger one then it makes sense to set up some strategies before a demanding time like the winter holidays. Coping with panic attacks during the Christmas season becomes a lot easier if a sufferer already has techniques to hand or knows that specific remedies will work for them.

 The following are some great tips for dealing with panic attacks during the holiday season:

• If you feel a panic attack coming on and you start to breathe rapidly, try to breathe slowly in and out of your cupped hands or a brown paper bag. Either will help your oxygen levels return to normal and lessen that feeling of giddiness that comes with over-breathing.

• Adopt a healthier lifestyle during the festive period – take or step up your regular exercise, avoid alcohol and cigarettes and eat regular, nutritious meals to keep your blood sugar level stable.

• Don’t try to fight a panic attack as all this will do is increase your levels of adrenaline.  Instead, try to accept the feelings you experience and understand that your symptoms are only trying to trick you.  Imagine yourself floating, detached, over them.  They will eventually subside.

•  During an attack, put the focus outside of yourself.  Listen to music or do something you enjoy until the feelings pass.

• Tell yourself that your symptoms are only temporary and not life-threatening or medically dangerous. 

• Reduce your exposure to unnecessary stress which means, during this hectic time, that you need to learn to say no to anything which will overload you or your nervous system.

• Learn and practice a relaxation technique. Try closing your eyes, slowing your breathing and imagining each part of your body in turn growing heavier and warmer.  Imagine all your tension disappearing and let go of every limb, your torso and head in turn until you are completely relaxed.  After fifteen or twenty minutes of this, gently bring your focus back to the present and open your eyes.  You will feel both calm and refreshed.

• Find someone to confide in about your panic attacks, whether it is a friend, family member or therapist.  Turn to this person if you need support or help coping with your panic attacks during the Christmas season.

Managing Winter Holiday Anxiety With Natural Remedies

There are a number of natural remedies for anxiety which are particularly suitable for the winter holiday season.

The herbs valerian, passionflower, St John’s Wort and kava have all been found to be effective in treating anxiety and can be taken as a warming winter tea although many people prefer them in capsule form.  It is worth knowing that herbs, just like any other medicine, can have serious side effects and if you are currently taking medication of any kind you must consult your medical practitioner before self-treating your anxiety with herbal remedies.

To ensure that you are taking the correct natural treatment for your anxiety disorder, you might like to consider consulting a naturopath.  That way, you can embark upon a course of natural treatment knowing that it has been tailored to you and your condition.  Another option is to visit a registered homeopath who will take a detailed case history before prescribing the correct homeopathic remedy for your particular anxiety disorder.  Holistic practitioners such as naturopaths and homeopaths always take into account your lifestyle and can alter treatment to take into account particularly stressful times such as the winter holidays.

If you prefer to stick with self-prescribed natural or home remedies for anxiety, then you may like to try Bach Flower Remedies and especially the all-purpose and immensely popular Rescue Remedy.  This miraculous concoction can be taken just before or during an anxiety-inducing occasion such as a Christmas party.  It is just as effective when taken after a stressful event and should be self-administered regularly during prolonged periods of heightened stress such as the winter holidays.

Rescue Remedy was developed by Dr Edward Bach who realised that people needed a natural emergency remedy to help them cope with everyday stressful situations.  The remedy has a particularly calming and centering energy and is still made today to Dr Bach’s exact specifications. 

To boost the effects of Rescue Remedy, you might like to combine it with these other natural techniques for alleviating anxiety:

Relax – take long, slow, deep breaths or simply soak in a hot tub.

Exercise – take a walk or due some yoga or gentle stretching.

Smile – simply the physical act of smiling makes us feel happier and more centered.

Calm – use positive visualization to take you a calmer place.

Unwind – with some time out for yourself, reading a book or simply staring into space.

Escape – removing yourself from a stressful situation, particularly during the winter holidays when we spend much more time than usual with others, can prove a life saver, giving you the time and space you need to restore balance and calm.

Whatever natural remedy for anxiety you choose, remember that it is up to you to administer it in the way that is most effective for you.  The beauty of natural remedies is that, for the most part, they give you some control over your own situation.  This in itself can prove the most powerful natural remedy for anxiety of all.

The Winter Holidays Impact On People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The winter holidays can have a huge impact on individuals suffereing from generalized anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD), despite its name, is far more intense and debilitating than the everyday anxiety experienced by most people.  Even when there is no discernible reason, sufferers of GAD experience chronic feelings of elevated anxiety and these feelings are often exacerbated by the hectic pace of the winter holidays.

If you are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder then it is likely that you spend a lot of your time worrying excessively and tend to expect disaster to strike at any moment.  You probably also find it hard, if not impossible, to relax and this means that, for sufferers, generalized anxiety disorder during the winter holidays can prove particularly trying for both you and those around you.

The following are signs and symptoms that someone may experience  when suffering from generalized anxiety disorder:

• Nausea
• Breathlessness
• Dizziness
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Muscle tension
• Difficulty swallowing
• Hot flushes
• Trembling
• Irritability
• Sweating
• Need to visit the bathroom more frequently
• Difficulty concentrating

Clearly, any of these could prove embarrassing or difficult to handle in a social situation such as a Christmas or Thanksgiving family dinner or party. 

Unlike sufferers of social anxiety disorder, however, most of those diagnosed with GAD do not consciously avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder.  While this can be a good thing as far as the holiday season goes, it is still advisable for sufferers of generalized anxiety disorder to take steps to lessen their symptoms during what can be a stressful time for everyone.

As GAD rarely occurs alone but is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse or another anxiety disorder then this must be taken into account when prescribing treatment.  Similarly, as medication is often used to control GAD then it is wise to consider any contraindications and to avoid alcohol and excess sugar, caffeine or other stimulants whenever possible.  Quite apart from other concerns, both alcohol and caffeine interfere with sleep patterns.  As those suffering from GAD often find it hard to get to sleep, or to experience uninterrupted sleep, then anything which further disrupts rest can only add to the already debilitating effects of this condition.

Given the temptations of the winter holiday period with its parties and other social gatherings, avoidance of alcohol and rich, sugar and fat-laden food can often prove difficult.  This is where sufferers of generalized anxiety disorder need to set limits for themselves and to understand that, by controlling their intake of substances which can only worsen their condition, they are helping to control the condition itself.  Simply knowing that they are in some small way in control can have a positive impact on those diagnosed with GAD, allowing them to see that they can still enjoy the winter holidays as long as they work within the limitations of their condition.

How To Deal With Anxiety At Christmas And All Year Long

The holiday season can be stressful for many people; however, some people have significant trouble with anxiety during the time leading up to Christmas.  The endless to do list, obligations, and expectations can be overwhelming for some leading to an initial attack of anxiety or triggering a preexisting anxiety disorder.

Dealing with anxiety at Christmas is, however, simply a matter of recognising the danger signals and setting yourself up so that you know you can handle the pressures during the holiday period.

One of the best ways to do this is to set clear boundaries both for you and for others. 

Don’t take on too much in the way of chores such as holiday shopping and enlist support and help from friends or family. This support can be practical or emotional but it really helps to spread the load and to ensure that other people are aware of your needs.  Simply knowing that those close to you are aware of your anxiety disorder and possible symptoms can make all the difference.  This will help minimise any embarrassment or awkwardness you might otherwise feel and will mean that your loved ones are more able to make allowances for the impact of your anxiety symptoms on those around you.

The following are techniques you can use to help you when dealing with anxiety at Christmas or any other stressful time:

Exercise – both gentle forms such as tai chi and more vigorous exercise such as jogging have been shown to be effective when dealing with anxiety.

Yoga – deep breathing combined with the required focus on attaining and maintaining yoga positions is an excellent antidote to anxiety.

Meditation – in its many forms has also proved to be immensely useful for sufferers of anxiety disorders.

Visualization – picturing and focusing on positive outcomes to anticipated events can dramatically diminish the anxiety a sufferer might otherwise feel.

All of the above allow you to create space and time for yourself which is essential if you are to come through the Christmas period without suffering an anxiety attack. Ten or twenty minutes spent in quiet meditation or simply taking a soak in the tub will allow you to refresh and regenerate away from the stressors of the seasonal period.

Another important tool in your armory against anxiety attacks during the holidays is to set your expectations low.  Far too often we build things up to a point that even the idea is enough to set your heart racing.  Telling yourself that nothing is ever perfect, including Christmas, will immediately help diminish that weight of expectation.  Keeping expectations realistic will mean that when someone in the family is not behaving like a Christmas angel, the turkey refuses to cook and the shops have run out of that essential present then you will be able to handle it. 

Dealing with anxiety during Christmas and all year long is all about reducing those stressors that trigger your symptoms.  Lower your expectations and you will also be lowering the likelihood of an anxiety attack at this stressful time of year.