Healthy, Balanced Ways to Manage Stress



By Coralie Darsey-Malloy


Holidays and special events often bring unresolves issues to the surface. During these times it is  important to approach them with moderation, balance and modesty rather than media hype and marketing ploys.  Over extensions of time, energy and money combined with lack of sleep, disruption of normal routines, frequently lead to an emotional hangovers after any big event.

   1.  Maintain balance and moderation in all things.      Nothing throws the system off like sleep deprivation or over-loading the body with too much food.   After a big turkey, dinner most can attest to the ‘sleepy’ feelings that come from protein overload and the calming effects of the amino acid tryptophan present in turkey.  Being mindful of alcohol and food consumption can also prevent the overloaded feeling that builds up throughout the season and leads to emotional lows when the celebrations are over.

  2.  Make time for fitness and fresh air and sunshine.   Many people have a difficult time fitting daily exercise in under normal conditions.  During hectic times like Christmas, exercise is the last thing that comes to mind.  My message is a different one.  January is coming and the longer you stay away from your various routines,   the harder it will be to get back to where you were.   One way to alleviate stress is to start a new tradition with family and friends that includes physical movement in social settings. Try going for a walk, having a snowball fight or frolicking outside for a while.   It is a guaranteed way to avoid feeling stressed.  

  3.  If you want to reduce the chances of a “blah or low time” try not to be hooked on ‘artificial highs.’  Anticipate great events by having realistic expectations, forethought and enough time ability to plan.  Meaningful gifts do not have to over-extend the budget. It may sound trite it is the thought and effort that goes into gifts that is the true value. Something baked or created with love and affection and exchanged with nice card and/or heartfelt expressions of affection often mean far more to the recipient than an extravagant gift based on material value alone.  These types of gifts usually do not break the budget or lead to financial regret when credit card bills start to roll in after the artificial high and media hype of the holidays are over.

  4.  Be prepared for the re-surfacing of buried emotions.  Family events often trigger buried emotions and can add to emotional lows.  The challenge for each of us is to be courageous and committed to reaching a point where we are able to accept people for who they are … whether we agree with them or not.    If a family member’s behavior is particularly upsetting, set boundaries.   Sometimes conflicts are not worth open confrontation or the timing may be inappropriate.  Instead go elsewhere, take a few deep breaths and either shelve or ignore the person and comments. If there is a need to clear the air it is preferable to contact the person after the holidays and discuss the issue under less stressful circumstances.  Ignoring poor behavior is an effective way of disempowering it.

5. Participate.   There are blessings in giving that do not hold the same feeling as always being on the receiving end. Balance is the key in every area of life. Giving can take many forms other than just the material.  Giving can include visiting and offering support to a less fortunate family, volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen, canvassing for a favorite charity or cause or visiting a retirement home or hospital.  Any of these ‘gifts’ could really make someone else’s day.

 6. Give yourself the gift of ‘self-health.’  The gift of self-health begins with your own actions.  Make a plan to eat less, (especially junk food, sugar, coffee and alcohol.)  Keep water intake high (two to three liters per day) get adequate amounts of sleep, fresh air, sunshine and exercise.  Humour is a great stress reliever so rent some funny movies and laugh, laugh and laugh some more. Laughter releases endorphins that create a natural high and exercises the tummy muscles in an ‘internal jog.’  If relationships need mending, forgiveness is a good place to start.  If we maintain an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for large and small blessings it focuses the heart and mind in positive flows of energy.

What greater gift can you receive than to function at a high level and to flourish physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?  Good health, a sense of well-being, friends, loved ones and a purposeful life create a feeling of abundance without monetary measure. Implementing all or part of the above suggestions will help maintain balance and prevent emotions from getting too high…or low.  However, when all is said and done the  best way to create an emotional high that will keep on as long as we practice it is to focus more on what we can do for others and less on what is not working in our own lives.  The benefits will be yours to enjoy.



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