Staying Stress-free During the Holidays: Everything Feeds Us, Not Just What’s On Our Plates

In heatlhy eating, holiday season, holistic health, Uncategorized, weight, wellness on December 6, 2012 at 4:38 am
At a workshop this weekend, the instructor reminded us that, in an emergency, airlines require you to first put on the oxygen mask before helping others.  The take-a-way?  You can’t help others until you help yourself first.

That’s an apt analogy for every day, but especially so during this hectic, frantic holiday season. canstockphoto2607600 Remember to take a little time each day for:
  • Self-care: Massage, a good book, journaling, a hot bath, skiing or skating–whatever it takes to nurture your spirit.
  • Stress reduction: Yoga, meditation and breathing can stimulate AND calm us. See below for two breathing techniques.
  • Sleep:Try to get at least seven to eight hours. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue and accident proneness.  Chronic sleep deprivation can also make you gain weight, because it has a direct link to three hormones that affect appetite.
  • Eating mindfully and healthfully. In fact, practice the “Rule of 1.”  When you do go to those gatherings, keep your caloric intake in check by only filling your plate with a tiny amount of one protein, one green, one drink, etc. “That way, you get to taste everything and don’t feel deprived, but you’re still practicing portion control,” says naturopathic physician Dr. Laurie Brodsky, ND.=

Two of my favorite breathing exercises, both from Dr. Andrew Weil.  To learn more please visit:

  1. The Bellows (Stimulating) Breath:.Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. This is a noisy breathing exercise.

Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle.

NOTE: Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute. This increases energy and helps keep you centered and focused.

2. The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise:

This exercise is fast, easy and can be done anywhere. Best to sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.


About Irene:

Irene Ross is a certified nutrition and health coach who helps people get off the diet roller coaster–to lose the weight, keep it off and let your
“fabulousness” shine.

“Healthy weight is a lot more about simply walking away with a list of so-called good foods and bad foods. It’s about a lot of things. Like learning how to balance blood sugar and knowing about the connection between hormones and processed foods and the adrenals and thyroid; and like learning how chronic stress and sleep deprivation affect our weight–among other things. And people need to know that everything feeds us; for instance, career, relationships, self-care, because if just one thing is out of balance they’ll always be, well, hungry.

“In short, I don’t just focus on the action (i.e., list of foods), but on the proper ecology (root problem) so that real and lasting transformation happens.”

Irene sees people individually or in groups and presents workshops and lectures and creates employee wellness programs.

There’s something for every budget, from tele-seminars to a  platinum “Six Step System”  to VIP Days for those who want fast, concentrated results.  There’s even a “3-Step System for Kicking those Sugar Cravings to the Curb in 30 Days” program.

Author of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, Irene is also a nutrition and wellness pro for our 4-legged furry friends and writes frequently on the topic of pet wellness.

To learn more, please visit Irene’s website:  Her free, twice-monthly newsletter, “Power Wellness,” is full of information, tips and recipes for healthy eating and lifestyle. Subscribe to her awesome newsletter here.


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