I’m hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We’re officially in the “holiday swing” now. Depending on your mindset, you might be viewing the holiday season with excitement or maybe even a little dread. Holidays can bring up a lot of different emotions for people, and not all of them are positive. The holiday season can also wreak havoc with a bunch of other things, such as your blood sugars, your weight, your energy level, and, yes, even your digestion. Here are some tips to help you get back and hopefully stay on track, at least until January 2!
Stress. Pretty much all of us have stress, at least at some point, and the holidays are no exception. Stress can result from any number of factors, including family, work, finances, and even being out of your usual routine.
Getting back on track. You can’t always banish stress, but you can deal with it. A quick solution to a stressful situation is to take some deep breaths. Clear your mind by going for a walk, listening to some music, or watching a funny TV show. If you’re feeling pressure to do everything or create a perfect holiday, tell yourself that it’s perfectly OK to let some things go. And before the next holiday celebration rolls around, prepare yourself ahead of time. Map out your schedule, delegate tasks, practice what you’ll say in difficult situations, and remember that it’s OK to say no every now and then!
Depression. Holidays aren’t always holly and jolly for everyone. For some people, holidays seem to worsen feelings of depression. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, are struggling financially, or feel lonely.
Getting back on track. Whether you’re feeling a bit blue or are trying to cope with full-blown depression, it’s important to take care of yourself. Acknowledge how you feel rather than trying to force yourself to be merry. Create a routine for yourself, which includes getting up at the same time each day, eating regular meals, checking your blood sugars, exercising, and getting to bed at a decent hour. Do something nice for yourself each day — go for a walk, read a book, get together with a friend, take a yoga class. Volunteering is a great way to help others and help yourself feel good at the same time. Take advantage of online support forums if you’re feeling particularly down or lonely. And if you’re really struggling, seek help from a behavioral health professional.
Up-and-down blood sugars. Holiday treats, off-kilter schedules, alcohol, and disruptions in exercise can quickly throw off your diabetes control. In turn, swings in blood sugars can make you feel tired and grumpy and less apt to take care of yourself.
Get back on track. You can’t go back and fix previous blood sugars, but you can learn from what happened and decide to get back on course. That means eating healthfully, carving out time in your day to exercise, checking your blood sugars, and taking your diabetes medicine as prescribed. It’s perfectly OK to treat yourself, but try not to use the holiday season as an excuse to part ways with your diabetes treatment plan. Doing so will make it that much harder to buckle down when the New Year arrives.
Fatigue. Fatigue is a natural response to overeating, drinking too much, shortchanging yourself on sleep, feeling stressed, and working too hard. It’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down and pay attention to yourself. While it’s easier said than done, if you’re pretty much dragging all day and loading up on caffeine to stay alert, call a time out. Figure out the source of your fatigue and make a plan to deal with it. Swings in blood sugars? Stop skipping meals, cut back on the goodies, or build in physical activity. Not getting enough sleep? Make a point to go to bed at a certain time each night or plan for a short nap during the day. Stressed out? Take a yoga class, treat yourself to a massage (or ask someone for a back rub!), or take some quiet time for yourself. Constant fatigue can lower your immune defenses and make you more susceptible to becoming sick, so try and nip fatigue in the bud.
Indigestion. We’ve all been there — too many fatty or sugary foods, late-night eating, a little too much alcohol, and stress can all lead to an upset stomach, bloating, or heartburn.
Getting back on track. A quick fix is to take an antacid medicine to ease the symptoms (make sure your doctor OKs this). If you prefer to skip the meds, try drinking a cup of peppermint or ginger tea, or chew on some candied ginger. Loosening your clothes can help, too. The next step is to plan your defense to prevent these symptoms from recurring. Keep a lid on the holiday treats. If you have to go to a late-night dinner or party, eat a low-carb snack before you go (a hard-boiled egg, a handful of nuts, raw vegetables, Greek-style yogurt) to help curb how much you eat later on. Pace yourself when you eat and slow down. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine, which can irritate your stomach lining. Don’t lie down right after you eat — allow some time for your food to digest, first. If your symptoms don’t go away or worsen, call your doctor.
With a little bit of planning and a lot of TLC, you can enjoy the holiday season and stay on track with your health.