The holidays, stress and willpower!
The month of December, I had a ton of holiday events and dinners with friends. I was looking forward to all of them, catching up with friends, partying with co-workers, etc. We all know what we look forward to the most: yummy food and alcoholic beverages! The whole “no alcohol” thing was very new to me, and I knew if I didn’t plan to fall off the wagon, I’d end up miles from it. I am now giving myself a little credit, considering the holiday season is stressful enough to get through, but I was hanging on to a bit of guilt for sure.
You know: guilt. I learned a long time ago what guilt is: it’s sadness or anger from being in a situation you don’t want to be in. Well, I’m pretty sure mine was sadness from having this horrible skin disease and anger for having to limit my alcohol intake, even though I’m not a big drinker. I drink so rarely that, when I do go out for drinks, I just want to enjoy one without thinking about its effect on my body. But, this December, I drank about five or six times (and ate yummy, fried, acidic hors d’oeuvres several times as well). Not bad, you might say. Well, my skin didn’t agree. Soon after, a few little spots appeared, and now I know it was my body telling me it’s not okay.
I am experiencing all these emotional gyrations related to willpower, and somehow I bet I’m not the only one. Having the willpower not to order a glass of wine or not to reach out and grab that delicious-looking appetizer as it passes me was hard. I tried talking to myself: “Kim, it’s not worth it, your skin looks amazing, you’ll regret it, don’t do it!” But that didn’t really work. I felt like I had that devil on my shoulder, just like in the movies. The devil was saying, “Screw it! It’s the holidays! You can start fresh after the New Year! Have a good time tonight! Get drunk, go on.”
It felt tough and, to be perfectly honest, once New Year’s passed, I was so glad the holidays were over. I wondered why in the world did I start this new lifestyle in September? Why did I choose to torture myself? I guess I just felt ready at that time. I also realized it all comes down to how you feel, and if you are going to cheat, at least enjoy what you are consuming and say no to guilt. (Again, hard to do!) I found that it didn’t feel good to cheat with something like a chocolate chip cookie. If I was going to indulge, I was going for the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. If I was going to cheat, I was going to make the most of it.
Alcohol and food weren’t the only things uPsetting my skin. That year, I was feeling a lot of stress. I’m sure you all can relate. The holidays are such a stressful time because you have more on your plate than ever, in a small amount of time. And on top of that, you most likely have to spend a lot of time with people you’re not normally around. It all adds up! Stress plays a big part in our body, showing its ugly head in many different ways. I knew I had until the next Thanksgiving to prepare, so I had a little positive chat with myself not to allow the stress, alcohol, or unhealthy food to get under my skin—literally and figuratively!
Being the planner I am, I decided to keep a calendar with positive reminders that I don’t need to fall for holiday stress, as well as lots of encouraging ideas in November and December to ensure less stress: take long walks every day; take a bath once a week with Dead Sea salt and lavender oil; spend more time with my pet; get a ten-minute massage from the nail salon once a week (of course now that I live in the ’burbs, I never go); make more time for the extra special family and friends that bring so much love into my life; and make more time for me which is always a constant struggle.
Funny, soon after the New Year, someone special in my life was telling me how rough his holiday was due to stress. He told me something his mom said to him on Christmas that resonated with me. He said that the holiday is just one more day that we get to celebrate being able to live this life, it’s no different from any other day. That thought is going to stay with me through every holiday, and I hope you think about that as well.