Tag Archives: holiday stress

Comfort Foods Can Be Healthy Too

foodWhile the holidays are typically a season of celebration and joy, this time of year may trigger feelings of loneliness, loss or difficult emotions for some. Whether you’re missing your family back home, or are tense after a disagreement with your spouse over holiday budgeting, turning to food for comfort is often accompanied by poor nutritional choices.

So what should you eat when your emotions are eating you?

Contrary to popular belief, not all stress eating is bad for you. In fact, eating the right foods when you’re emotions are running high can actually help calm you down. Try switching your usual comfort foods for these quick and healthy snacks to get you back in the holiday spirit (and to avoid the guilt of overeating):

  • Instead of dipping into the cookie jar…go for a handful of almonds.
    Almonds contain a winning stress-relief combination: vitamin B12, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. For those who take to the peanut butter jar with a tablespoon – go for a spoonful of almond butter instead!
  • Swap the chips and dip for avocado slices.
    If you’re craving something rich and satisfying, go for the “good fat.” The monounsaturated fats and potassium found in avocado can lower blood pressure. Make your own guacamole for a special treat that will have the whole family at peace!
  • Meat lover? Try a salmon burger instead of ground beef.
    Salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which not only fight heart disease, but can keep cortisol and adrenaline levels in check. What does that mean? You’ll be able to calm down and relax after a stressful event, instead of remaining tense and “wound up.”
  • Need something sweet and colorful? Go for a bowl of blueberries and cantaloupe.
    Put down the M&Ms! Blueberries and cantaloupe are just as colorful and easy on the eye, and are full of stress-busting antioxidants and Vitamin C.
  • Oatmeal is the perfect hearty comfort food.
    Carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone. Smart carb choices in moderation are key, which is why a good old-fashioned bowl of oatmeal will do the trick to get you out of your Grinch-like funk, while keeping cravings at bay. The high fiber content will keep you fuller longer. Here’s a tip: instead of buying the flavored oatmeal loaded with sugar, buy plain oatmeal, add some fresh blueberries, and sweeten it to your taste.

Eating the right foods may not get to the cause of your stress, but it will prevent you from dealing with the added stress of trying to lose the extra pounds caused by emotional eating. Take control of your stress eating this holiday season and fuel your body with the right nutrients to keep you cool, calm and collected.

For more tips and strategies visit Navy Nutrition online.

Getting Ahead of the Humbugs

H4HWith the holidays approaching, you may experience mixed emotions about family gatherings—especially if you’ve spent a lot of time away from home and loved ones recently. Whether it’s encountering a person that you’ve struggled to get along with in the past, or even a seasonal tradition that you no longer feel connected with, there are bound to be elements of the holidays that can be…well…irritating.

The transition from high operational tempo and incredible mission demands, to basting turkeys, singing carols and toasting with champagne, can be difficult to navigate. Here are a few ways to apply three of the 5 Principles of Resilience (Predictability, Controllability, Relationships, Trust and Meaning) to stressful holiday situations to help you get a better grasp on “the humbugs” and enjoy your well-deserved time off for merriment and relaxation:

  1. Predictability: If you can predict something, you can prepare for it. Rather than trying to avoid the thoughts, situations or people that may dampen your holiday spirit, accept them and try to move forward. Make a plan for how you’ll deal with these situations, positively, rather than letting them weigh on you. Maybe you’ll find something in common with “weird Uncle Lester,” or realize that caroling really doesn’t bother you so much after all.
  2. Controllability: You can prepare for the predictable, but inevitably there are some things that may be outside of your control. Maybe you feel obligated to attend three different family dinners because you’ve been away and everyone wants to see you. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and sort through what you can and cannot control. You might not be able to please everyone and make it to all three dinners across town within two hours, but you can regain a sense of control by deciding which suits your schedule best. Don’t feel guilty for declining an invite!
  3. Meaning: To Thrive during the Holidays, it’s most important to stay focused on what this time of year means to you. Whether you observe the religious significance, look forward to a little time to kick back with your shipmates, or just enjoy the company of friends and family, remember that this is a season of hope. Be grateful for the challenges, triumphs and positivity in your life—they all build resilience!

Whatever humbugs and sticky situations you may encounter, assure yourself that you can navigate through these challenges and still enjoy the holidays without feeling like a scrooge. For more strategies to  defeat holiday stress, check out “6 Strategies for Beating the Holiday Blues” on the Chaplain Corps Live blog.

If you or someone you know is having a hard time navigating stress this holiday season or any time of year, help is always available. Dial 1-800-273-8255 (Option 1) for the Veteran’s Crisis Line, or 1-855-NAVY-311 for ChaplainCare. It’s okay to speak up when you’re down.

Officials Emphasize Patience and Planning to Reduce Holiday Stress

Preparing for the holidays can bring unwanted stress.   Practical advice from the Navy’s Behavioral Health Program can help reduce holiday anxiety. What works for you? Leave us a comment and share your tips for an enjoyable holiday season.

Officials Emphasize Patience and Planning to Reduce Holiday Stress

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs
12/2/2011
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) — The holiday season has arrived and as Sailors and families prepare to celebrate, Navy officials have provided a standard operating procedure that can help keep the holidays merry and light.

“The holidays can be a hectic time for many,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie Chavez, Navy Behavioral Health Program director. “A lack of money, a lack of time, and the hype and commercialism of the season causes increased stress.”

Surveys indicate people in the United States are more likely to feel their stress increase rather than decreases during the holidays, according to Chavez, who offers this advice:

* Take advantage of leave periods and relax for a few days by doing something you enjoy. Holiday stand-down periods provide flexibility for much needed rest to recover from the demands of Navy life.
* Be a good listener. Holidays are short and demands from friends and family for your attention will be high so try to give the gift of good company.
* Keep to your shopping budget. When it comes to holiday gift-giving, find creative ways to save money and remain in your budget. Racking up credit-card debt over the holidays may only cause further stress when the bills come due.
* Plan ahead and allow for plenty of time for holiday travel. Expect lines and delays in airports as the number of travelers swell. Prepare your car for road trips and know you’ll be sharing the highway with higher numbers of travelers. Getting plenty of rest can make the journey less stressful and help you arrive safely.
* When tensions begin to rise, pause, take a deep breath, reflect and evaluate if the source of tension is really something that should be causing stress.
* The holidays are a time of excitement and exhaustion for young children. Overtired, over stimulated children are ripe for a stress inducing meltdown. Plan accordingly to anticipate disruptions in children’s routines and exercise patience. The holidays are supposed to be merry.
* If deployment or geographic separation will keep you away from family and friends, plan your own observance upon your return or for a future date.

Chavez reminds Sailors to look out for their shipmates, too. Deployments, work-ups and separations are simply a fact of Navy life, and Sailors are good at welcoming shipmates into their homes and including them in celebrations.

“Don’t underestimate the positive difference you can make by taking a little extra time to care,” said Chavez. “The things you do every day to make connections, to encourage, and show people how they are valued and belong, can help in small but important ways for the people around you.”

Sailors and their families can learn more methods of navigating stress from their local Fleet and Family Service Center, their command chaplain, and from www.navynavstress.com.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.

Related post: 3 Steps to Navigating Holiday Stress

3 Steps to Navigating Holiday Stress

Trying to keep pace with holiday festivities can add pressure to an already exhausting schedule. If working long hours, shift work, or preparing to go underway has you feeling there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done, try a few of these tips to gain control of your schedule.

Enter every activity into your calendar

Write down all your upcoming appointments to include: duty days, command holiday parties, children holiday school programs, etc. By knowing exactly where you are supposed be and when, you are less likely to double-book yourself and it will be easier to say “no” when you are asked to do “one more thing”. Maximize the time you have available by scheduling time with family and friends.  Schedule time for holiday fun.  Invite a friend to dinner or a movie, make your favorite family holiday recipe, take an evening drive to view holiday light displays or take advantage of family holiday themed movie nights.

Make a Holiday Gift List

Shopping for holiday gifts can be difficult. Make a list of everyone you’d like to give a gift to and assign a dollar amount you’d like to spend. This will keep you on budget. If you will be away for the holidays, coordinate with a family member, friend or neighbor to deliver or ship your holiday gifts.

Create a Menu for the Week

When it comes to preparing meals, take an hour to plan the meals for the week and create a shopping list that covers all the necessary ingredients. Post the “Menu for the Week” on the refrigerator and when you are tired from a long day you won’t have to wonder what is for dinner. You’ll lower your stress level knowing you have it all planned and you can prepare a home cooked meal quicker than ordering take-out pizza.

This time of year can be filled with joy.  It can also be very stressful. Planning time for fun, spending time with friends can counter family separation and make our lives more enjoyable.  Taking a few minutes here and there to plan ahead will help lower your stress level and make sure you have time to do the things you enjoy.

To learn more about OSC and the stress zones visit our new YouTube Channel.

Reduce Holiday Stress [Video]

This Naval Safety Center Video features some great tips on ways to reduce Holiday Stress: