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Beat The STRESS This Holiday Season – Pro Tips!

Written by: Kristy Kilcup, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

As a Health, Life and Wellness Transformation Coach, I help women overcome their relationship struggles with their food, bodies, and self-confidence.


As a diversified coach, I use several science-based techniques to address their nutritional needs, hormone imbalances, inflammation, gut health, and mindset. In addition, we spend the necessary time focusing on her psychological needs, such as overeating and inability to prioritize herself, while uncovering the root cause for her behaviours and present-day experiences.

So today, leading up to the Thanksgiving long weekend and, soon enough, the Christmas season, I thought I would share some quick tips that you can start using today to address the ebbs and flows of stress.


These include money-saving tips, so be sure to read until the end!


Stress


Although the holiday season is attributed to joy, love, gratitude, and sharing, it can also be very stressful.


One of the culprits of our stress is our self-imposed expectations for perfection, such as building the perfect Christmas tree or decorating the whole house. Or in trying to create the most unforgettable family dinner and corralling everyone to join in on the fun-filled traditional family activities where everyone joyously participates (even your teenager).


We stress out due to our desire to people-please or because of the sheer influx of spending. Not only that, but we also even eat more, eat differently, and fall out of our daily routine, all of which contribute to increased stress, lower energy, overwhelm and fatigue.


The combination of these stressors can make it challenging to stay healthy during the holiday season. So, let's start with physiology to understand how cortisol (our stress hormone) affects the body and then the psychology and tips on how to survive the holidays - unscathed.


It comes as no surprise, I'm sure, that when your body and mind are stressed, you will likely find that your cortisol levels have risen in tandem.


Unfortunately, with chronic stress and the constant production of cortisol, our bodies lose the ability to clear the sugar from our bloodstream due to cortisol's effect on the hormone insulin. As a result, we gain fat, typically in the abdomen region.


Cortisol also plays havoc in other ways, as described below.


Cortisol on the Body


When we perceive stress, our hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to stimulate Cortisol and Adrenaline. As a result, cortisol is responsible for the increased blood glucose levels amplifying focus, speed, and strength.


In addition, cortisol alters non-essential functions (in response to perceived stress) like the immune system, digestive system, and reproductive system. It regulates many processes such as blood pressure, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and controls blood glucose levels.


In addition to what most people know about cortisol, what is less common is that when faced with higher cortisol levels, over time, our body becomes alkaline, specifically the blood pH.


Symptoms of an Alkaline Body:

  • Muscle twitching (have you ever suffered from an eye twitch? Were you stressed?)

  • Numbness and tingling

  • Nausea

  • Light-headedness

  • Confusion

With an alkaline body, calcium is not absorbed, creating a buildup within the soft tissue. This buildup can lead to arthritis, gall stones, tartar, and cataracts. These symptoms are more common as we age because your blood pH becomes less acidic.


An alkaline body blocks calcium and causes the loss of Potassium, which increases fatigue, blood pressure, and muscle weakness.


Here are your simple go-to solutions to help you beat the stress this Holiday Season.


Your Holiday Season Remedies to Stay Healthy


Apple Cider Vinegar


Apple Cider Vinegar can be your simple solution to remedy the effects of high cortisol related to an alkaline body.


The benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar come from the pH level of Acetic Acid. Taking two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar before every meal can improve: digestion, counter the effects of cortisol blocking calcium absorption, decrease the loss of Potassium and improve symptoms of heartburn, GERD, acid reflux and indigestion (because it promotes the closure of the valve, so acids are not leaking into the esophagus).


In addition, Apple Cider Vinegar improves immunity, aids in digestion, fights off food bacteria, and decreases blood sugar levels.


Take Note! Apple Cider Vinegar may not be for everyone! Speak with your physician to determine if adding Apple Cider Vinegar into your diet is the right health strategy for you.


Now that we have looked at a strategy to address our body's state of health to combat the effects of stress, let's discuss how to lower your stress levels altogether to avoid the unnecessary elevation of cortisol.


And this next tip comes in the form of your high standards - so prepare yourself.


Reducing Stress


Ask yourself, is it worth it?


The extra effort, energy, and time you are committing to making it "just right" - is it worth it? Meaning, besides you, will anyone else really notice or care?


Sorry, it had to be said.


For example, if you skimp out on decorating the back of the Christmas tree or not every inch of the house is decorated with Christmas decor, would this impact the joy, love, and gratitude expressed when everyone comes together?


I realize it might bother you, but it's only bothering you because you created this level of expectation for yourself that is unnecessary.


So, for a moment, visualize this experience. Suppose you only completed some of your tasks to 80% of your "high standard," knowing it will NOT negatively affect the outcome of the celebrations. Could this be something you could implement as your "new normal" in future holiday seasons to come?


How good would it feel to release yourself of the unnecessary burdens? Especially where no one notices or when your 'skimping' has no negative impact?


Can you get over the fact that you are trying to control your environment to ensure everyone's happiness?


Here's a truth bomb: You can only ever control your actions, thoughts, feelings, and words, no one else's. So, stop almost killing yourself to make everything perfect when you cannot control the outcome of other people's experiences.


Breathe. It is possible to let go of the high expectations AND still find great pleasure in celebrating the holiday season! Think of how you can redirect some of that energy! How about reading a book by the fire, enjoying some hot apple cider watching a ROM-COM with your partner, making that group fitness class for the third time this week, or enjoying the fresh air on a long after-dinner walk (without ruminating over the long shopping list of tasks you have yet to complete).


Now I realize letting go is easier said than done. However, if you want to reduce your stress level this holiday season, this is how you can take back control - by focusing your attention on what really matters.


Pro Tip!


Take stock of the low-hanging fruit. Select the items on your list where you can easily swing an 80% satisfaction rating and see how it plays out. Does anyone notice? And if they do notice, mentally rate their level of disappointment. Or better yet, ask them. You may be surprised at their lack of attachment.


What else should you consider when looking to keep it together this holiday season?

How about your money spending? In this case, a common justification that comes back to bite us in the (fill in the blank) in January, is saying “I’ll deal with it later.” Our sense of nostalgia and generosity runs deep during the holiday season. So does our need to fill voids and rebel against the rules we impose upon ourselves throughout the year.


Money Spending


Let’s start with nostalgia and generosity, then work our way to filling voids and rebelling. It will all make sense soon enough.


I am sure I don’t need to explain this feeling, the one that sweeps you off your feet, where you want to buy a gift for every person that ever impacted your life in some way. Then you add to that list because you simply cannot and will not forget someone. Anyone you expect to run into over the holiday season is fair game, so you buy extra gift certificates, stocking stuffers and sweaters – just in case.


I’m talking to you, aren’t’ I?


It’s because I’m talking to myself as well. I understand this feeling of wanting to make people happy, show appreciation, and express thanks.


Unfortunately, without a budget to hold you accountable, it can feel like a Wedding, where more and more people are added to the reception. Therefore, it’s essential to be realistic with your money goals and spending habits during the holidays.


You know you will be spending more money than usual, but can you create a budget that aligns with your money goals?


Consider how much you want to spend and how many months it will take to pay that back. Then consider any other remaining items you still must pay for like house repairs, insurance, doctor’s visits, daycare costs, etc.


Do you have the means to not only pay back what you owe from holiday shopping but also cover those additional future expenses? If your answer is no, then here’s another round of pro tips to help you out.


Make a list of all the people you know you should be buying for this holiday season

  1. Create a budget

  2. Identify the costs of the items you want to buy (inflate the price by about 10%)

  3. Compare the cost per items list against your budget

  4. Pair back – because you know your cost per item list is likely higher than your budget

Here are some ways to pair back while still hitting everyone on your list:

  1. Buy baked goods in bulk and get a little crafty. Now listen, I’m no arts and crafts fanatic, but adding some wax paper to a tin container and a bow on top is reasonable. And by a bow, I literally mean the kind that you remove the tab and stick onto the lid.

  2. Pinterest always has brilliant and savvy DIY ideas to help you out, like creating fantastic mason jar recipes. And listen, this is literally about buying a variety of oats and chia seeds in bulk and pouring layers into a jar and sticking that amazing peel-and-stick bow on top.

  3. Host a dinner party—this is one of my go-to cost saving tips. I also make my parties a potluck. I'll create a charcuterie board, and although that can be a bit pricy, it feeds ten or more people and is way cheaper than ten individual gifts. Besides, isn't your company a gift in and of itself - yeah, it is.

Now I get it; these ideas may turn you off because they seem cheap or impersonal. But I'm here to shake up your current overspending justifications, so you are not in debt for six months of the year and stressed out having to work more.


So, what's more important to you, swallowing your pride by handing out mason jars or having to find a second part-time job? It's your choice.


Now let's talk about the less common issue of spending over the holiday season - filling the void and rebelling.


Let me ask you, when you are out shopping for holidays gifts, do you suddenly have this deep-seated need to buy for yourself too? And the voice that usually stops you by saying, "Nah, you don't really need that today," has altogether left the building? Instead, the voice has been replaced with a stronger, louder voice that is saying, "Oh, that would look so good on you!" "You need that in yellow too." It's like this money spending monster has come alive inside of you, and it cannot, will not be controlled!


The holiday season seems to flip the generosity switch to "on" for everyone, including ourselves. The justifications run so hot that there is little control stopping us from buying that "perfect outfit for the holiday party." And yes, it's ok to spend money on yourself. I'm trying to say that you need to pay close attention to your spending habits over the holiday season. It's so much harder to control the spending, and I need you to confront those justifications by evaluating the WHY behind the purchase.


We can feel excited to see family and friends during the holiday season, but it can also create overwhelm, stress, and sadness. When we feel these emotions, we increase the likelihood of spending because we look externally to fill the voids rather than to allow the feelings of sadness to surface and pass.


Here's how you can address this moment:

  1. Step out of the store (without the goods in hand already).

  2. Take stock of your feelings and your attitude about the product you are looking to buy. Yes, you are psychoanalyzing yourself over a sweater, but do it anyway.

  3. Ask yourself, if you walked away without the sweater, would you be ok? Would you have something else to wear that would suffice, where you could feel confident and sexy?

If the answer is yes, you could walk away, then it wasn't the right purchase, at least not during the holiday season - wait for the inevitable gift card you will receive. If your answer is no, you are lying to yourself. That's your default response so that you can feel that quick dopamine rush. My recommendation is to wait for the gift certificate or, better yet, take a picture of it and ask for it for Christmas!


Rebelling behaviours are essentially the same, with the only difference being your response to WHY you want to buy the item. Your answer will usually come in the form of the "who cares; I deserve it" response.


Sound familiar?


When you want to rebel, it's easy to tell yourself you have been so good, so why not reward yourself. And yeah, if buying the sweater isn't going to send you spiralling out of control, go for it; you do deserve it. However, if you chronically justify spending money in this way, you are only enabling yourself, which is guaranteed to increase your stress level. You probably won't even find the sweater gratifying to wear come the night of the party in the end anyway.


In this case, your pro tip action steps are the same as filling the void because it's the same sabotaging behaviour. So, follow the steps provided above.


It was important to me that I share with you some mindset tips to address the holiday season as it's my opinion that most of our health-related problems stem from our mindset. And while we may eat foods that we don't usually eat and go to bed later, by tuning into our emotions, paying attention to our self-imposed expectations and justifications, we have a greater chance of truly enjoying the holiday season.


Through my products and services, I aspire to help as many people as possible transform their lives so they, in turn, can change the lives of those around them.


I write these articles from a place of love, compassion, and recognition that this may cause an emotional awakening.


Thank you for dedicating your time to opening your mind to the possibility that already exists for you.


Here's to showing up for you.


Your Global Transformation Coach,

Kristy

Creator of Break FREE, Healthy YOU and the ACCELERATOR Program


For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


 

Kristy Kilcup, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Kristy has been in the Health, Life and Wellness space for almost 30 years, so it comes as no surprise that she has created a weight loss program that goes well beyond weight loss! Kristy's comprehensive industry experience includes her honours degree in health science and education degree in biology and physical education, certifications in Health, Life and Mastery Level Transformation Coaching, as well as Advanced Nutrition. In addition, Kristy is currently completing the pH360 certification, NLP Advanced Practitioner and RTT® Hypnotherapist license. When working with Kristy, you can expect a holistic approach in tackling weight loss issues as she offers a flexible online weight loss program, group and 1:1 coaching sessions, and a cell signalling supplement, proven to improve hormone modulation, immune system function, inflammation, and more.

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