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BY SHERII SHERBANReduce YourHolidaysENJOY THEI must admit that I cannot get enough of the holiday movies, music, and food. I tru- ly enjoy spending time with family, giving, and festivities year round.Which creates the question, why not? Often times there is an assumedconnection between the holidays and overindulgence but it does not have to be that way. The overindulgence is not limited to food but might also include alcohol, gift giving, travel, and parties. It can also be complicated by the expecta- tions of others, missing family or friends, pets, as well as lack of exercise, sleep, and daylight hours. Add these together, mix in a heavy dose of emotions that tend to surface at this time, and stress seems to be inevitable. Yet some seem to shine through it all and so can you if you are willing to change your expecta- tions.The American Psychological Asso- ciation (APA) found that nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays, which puts their health at risk. The APA also learned that during this time, 41 percent of women use food and 28 per- cent use alcohol. Both of which can be triggered responses to stress and in turn can generate new stressors.10 SCENE 4411 I CHARITABLE ISSUEChanging expectations can applyto every issue already identified but the greatest impact can be experienced from altering personal expectations. Change your focus to personal care first. Take 15-30 minutes every day for you to re- generate. It can be a walk soaking up the limited sunlight, reading a book, listening to music, meditation, yoga, movement, whatever is valuable to you. You may need to get up 15 minutes earlier to accomplish it but the value cannot be overstated.In addition, whenever you get stressed out, anxious or feel overwhelmed during the day, take quick relaxation breaks of 1-5 minutes to calm yourself down. Con- scious, slow breathing can help you when you’re feeling frustrated waiting in lineat the supermarket, post office, or drug store, or even when making phone calls and waiting on hold. A moment spent quieting your mind and slowing your heart rate can alleviate the pressure ofthe moment.Intend to maintain an exerciseprogram, even if it is at a reduced level. Exercise can be one of biggest mood-al- tering activities. Research shows that physical activity not only boosts your fitness and energy levels but can also elevate your moods. In addition, exercise has been found to reduce anger, tension, fatigue, and confusion. Despite the manydemands on your time, this is not the season to stop exercising. In fact, when regular exercisers are inactive, they begin to feel agitated and fatigued after just one week. Further research shows that rigor- ous physical activity of any kind pumps up production of endorphins, your body’s feel-good neurotransmitters. All of thisto say, regular exercise can really have a positive impact on your holiday season. In the name of personal care first,consider the impact of seasonal food.I’m a dessert-first kind of gal. No doubt, you’ll be tempted by the sugar-filled treats as well. When offered these and other “goodies,” consider a few “polite” bites and sips; it’s often better than the conse- quences that develop when you feel like you are constantly depriving yourself and then consume the bag of cookies when you get home. Be aware that if you’rea sugar addict, you must be especially vigilant when it comes to desserts and quickie carbs. Your body is meant to be a temple not a garbage can.You probably already know that to be your most energetic, focused, and happy self, it’s best to eat foods that grow on trees or on the ground (vegetables and fruits) and to choose healthy fats (such as olive oil and flax seeds), lean protein (such as fish and organic chicken) and legumes, nuts and seeds. Always eat be- fore heading to a party so that you’re less

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