It gets pretty crazy at this time of year. We have the usual demands on our energy and time. We have the added demands and expectations of family and friends. But most importantly, we have the demands and expectations we place on ourselves.
Sometimes our drive for perfection puts excessive pressure on us. That pressure and the stress of accomplishing everything “perfectly” is actually unhealthy. So, what happens when we get stressed? Our cortisol levels increase. We get hungrier. We put on abdominal fat because our bodies think we are in a life threatening situation and need to prepare for survival. We have insomnia when cortisol levels are high. We also tend to be irritable. Also, our brains actually shrink when cortisol levels are high. This causes impairment of our thinking abilities and short term memory. Is doing everything perfectly worth the health risks?
So, how about going easy on yourself this year? What about simplifying? You don’t have to cook everything from scratch. You could buy ready-made food to bring to a potluck. Couldn’t you come to a family agreement that everyone doesn’t have to get presents for everyone else? Maybe just presents for children.
In Morelia Mexico, where my daughter spent time in college, there is no gift giving. The tradition is to visit from house to house all night on Christmas eve sharing a special punch. What about focusing on the love and connection when we gather at the holidays rather than expectations and perfection? Now that’s a recipe for good health.
Try this simple exercise: sit in a quiet place and close your eyes. Take deep breaths through your nose to a slow count of five. Allow your abdomen to expand as you fully fill your lungs. Exhale the breath through your mouth to a slow count of five. Do this 15 times. You will feel rejuvenated and it takes less than five minutes.