I’m going to be brutally honest here: I have a hard time during the holiday season. There I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not The Grinch, but I start getting stressed out about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, and I stay that way until well after New Year’s Day.
Why does this happen to me every year? Well, like anything in life it’s complicated. There isn’t one overriding reason why I go into a tailspin just after Hallowe’en (my very favorite holiday btw). Instead it’s more of a building wave of stressors that all start crashing onto me in the late autumn and winter. Those stressors include but are by no means limited to: living far from people I love and care about deeply. Feeling isolated by my work (yup, being a wellness coach means I work from home and spend lots and lots of time alone reading and researching so I can better serve my clients’ needs). Societal pressures to be always cheerful and full of anticipation this time of year. Pressure to provide perfect holiday experiences for my family and friends. And of course, shorter days cause my Seasonal Affective Disorder to kick in and that just makes it all so much worse. There are more factors as well, but you get the idea.
All of these things rolled up together can push a girl over the edge! Before too long I find myself not sleeping well, not eating well, slacking off on my fitness activities, having an extra glass (or 2 or 3) of wine a little too often, and generally becoming a grouchy, sad, self-loathing hermit. Sound even remotely familiar to any of you?
Now, you may be wondering why I’m throwing all of this out here. It probably seems like a bit of self-sabotage for me to admit publicly that I really struggle with my emotions and behaviors like this. And I realize that some people are going to be uncomfortable hearing that a coach deals with these issues. But I feel that I have a responsibility to share this with you.
If I were perfect, how on earth could I comprehend whatever it is you struggle with? Why would you listen to anything I had to say if I didn’t know on a deep, personal level, what it feels like to have a problem that seems insurmountable at times? If I didn’t have to work hard to heal myself, I wouldn’t be able to help you heal. Sure, I could lay out a plan for you based on what you tell me, and I could check in to see how you were progressing, but I couldn’t actually understand at a gut level just how hard it is to take baby steps some days, let alone make sweeping changes and then maintain them. I wouldn’t be able to understand why you resist doing the things you know you need to do, or why you’re angry with me because I’m telling you what you need to hear. Sharing my own truths with you allows me to be a better coach for you.
I know firsthand how scary it is to try to make changes, to confront damaging behavior, to feel like a failure, or like everything is impossible and out of your control. And my weaknesses, my faults, are what give me the ability to help you rebuild your life in a healthier, happier way that works for you. I’m not better than you, I’m not stronger or smarter, or more deserving. I’m right here with you on this crazy ride through life. My job isn’t to talk down to you about what’s ‘wrong’ with you, but to help you decide what’s RIGHT for you, and find ways to do more of that. And every time I help someone get more good stuff into her life, more good comes into mine. That’s why I’m sharing this with you today.
It's easy to fall into the trap of believing everything you see is real, and that people are exactly as they present themselves online and in social media. Instagram and Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat....they can be great tools to connect with other people and get inspired to try new things and improve yourself. But they can also give us a false impression that everyone else is perfect, and has perfect lives, with perfect bodies, perfect kids, perfect food, perfect mates, perfect pets.... And that's a big fat lie! Nobody is perfect. Nobody has a great day everyday 365. That's just BS. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Sometimes you'll have lots of bad days all strung together. Sometimes all you can do is make it from one end of your day to the other without giving up. AND THAT'S OKAY! Just know that eventually, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep taking those baby steps, the good days and the good stuff will come back around. Promise.
Speaking of good stuff, before I wrap this up for today, I wanted to share with you a few things I’ll be implementing from now until the return of sunshine and Spring. Just some low-hanging fruit practices to keep me from going completely off the deep-end during these dark months. Feel free to copy off my paper, with the knowledge that as with anything, your mileage may vary.
1. Vitamins. I’m not usually one for supplements or powders, but I’ve discovered that if I add a daily multi-vitamin plus a Vitamin D spray to my life during the fall and winter, I do much better both physically and emotionally.
2. Sunshine. Every day. This one is hard for me, but I am committing to making myself go outside into the sunshine every single day that it’s available. Here in NC, our winters tend to be mild, but grey, so this is a bit of problem. But I’m going to do my best.
3. Nature. I live near a nature preserve, and I love walking there, and so does my dog. Being exposed to nature has a calming, rejuvenating effect on me, but too often I put other things ahead of giving myself this much need tonic. I plan to be a bit more selfish about getting my Nature Time. Even on a grey day, the forest is a wonderful place to be.
4. Sleep. I never seem to get enough good sleep during the holiday season. This year I’m making the effort to maintain consistent sleep schedules and routines. I’m sure I’ll have to be the party-pooper now and then, but that’s just too bad.
5. Protein. Sounds weird right? When I get stressed out, I don’t want to eat. That’s not really a healthy way to live though is it? What I’ve found is that if I’m stressed and have no appetite, if I make myself eat 3 or 4 ounces of protein (salmon, hard boiled egg, turkey…) my stress levels go down. I try to respect my body’s intuition to not eat anything heavy or sugary, but giving my system adequate protein throughout the day helps me maintain better emotional balance and energy levels.
If you feel like any of those suggestions might benefit you, please give them a try.
Do you also suffer from extra stress this time of year? What have you found that works for you in helping to relieve that stress and maintain your healthy behaviors? Share your tips, questions, and comments, below.
That’s it for today, I hope you found something useful in this...thanks for coming by!