Healthier Ways to Manage Holiday Stress
The words "holiday" and "stress" do not belong together. A holiday is supposed to be a time when a person relaxes, participates in fun activities, gets some distance from day-to-day hassles, and spends time with family or loved ones. The reality is that even positive events can cause stress, and demands or changes in routine are often unavoidable. Even though the holidays tend to be more stressful than restful, there are ways to manage stress and make room for more enjoyment.
10 healthy ways to manage the negative stress you might experience this holiday season:
- Keep it all in perspective. Holidays don't have to be perfect. At the end of the day, no one cares if the lights are crooked or the turkey is dry. The focus needs to be on spending time celebrating and connecting with those you love.
- Make space. Make a deal with yourself to spend 15 minutes alone, without distractions, more than once a day. Do deep breathing exercises, take a walk, or listen to calming music. You don't have to be "on" all the time, and 15 minutes can actually recharge you more than you realize.
- Use a buffer. Spouses, partners, friends, and loved ones can be sources of tension, but they can also be sources of protection. Make a deal with a trusted person to intervene when they hear Aunt Sally start to grill you on your personal life. Set up "secret" signals beforehand in case the person might miss the cue to step in and help out.
- Try not to skip meals, and don't try to "diet." You will just get irritable and be low on energy to handle unavoidable stress. Use moderation and don't deprive yourself. The holidays are not an excuse to throw healthy behaviors out the window, but there is nothing wrong with a cookie every now and then.
- Drink more water. Stay hydrated. Alcohol is wet, but it is not hydrating and it tends to have lots of calories. It is also a depressant, so you will pay for whatever immediate "benefit" you have from alcohol with feeling lethargic and moody later.
- Sleep. Sleep patterns tend to get thrown off when you are not on a schedule during the holidays. Try to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Also, stay physically active, avoid electronic screens for about an hour before you go to sleep, and make rest a priority. Sleepy people can be stressed out people.
- Exercise. Research shows a strong link between exercise and mood. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can give you time away from the chaos at home and help buffer you against stress.
- Stay connected. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out friends, attend religious or social events, or volunteer your time to help others. Relationships are healing, and they are one of the best methods of fighting stress.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Sadness is not uncommon during the holidays due to distance from family or friends, loss of loved ones, or unexpected disappointments. Forcing yourself to be happy will only increase your sadness and build resentment. The key is to take breaks from sadness or grief. Use healthy distractions, social interaction, or be creative (e.g., writing, music, art) to express emotions in productive ways that don't drag you down and may help you sort out next steps.
- Seek professional help. If you experience persistent sadness or anxiety, are unable to sleep, have physical complaints, feel irritable or helpless, or lose enjoyment of and motivation to do activities, seek support from a mental health professional. You can develop a plan for facing the stress of the holidays, strengthen coping skills, and have a safe place to unload and move through whatever tensions you experience.
If you are experiencing stress this holiday season, consult with your physician. Call 804-359- WELL  or visit www.bonsecours.com if you need help finding a physician close to your home or work.
December is "Safe Toys and Gifts" Month
As we head into the holidays, the American Diabetes Association encourages us to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Diabetes touches many lives in the United States:
In 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 262,300 toy-related injuries. And, 74 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. In fact, more than 92,000 were to those under 5 years of age.
Because the most commonly injured part of the body is the head and face area, Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Month in an effort to help adults make the best decisions on how to keep the holiday season joyful for everyone. The group is offering toy-buying and gift-giving tips to anyone planning to purchase a gift for a child this year.
Prevent Blindness America suggests that before purchasing a toy:
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child's ability and age.
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
- Check the lenses and frames of children's sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
- Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
- Look for the letters "ASTM." This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles or a face guard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball).
- Don't give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
- Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as this can become wrapped around a child's neck.
- Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately. According to the CPSC, more children have suffocated from them than any other type of toy.
"To help keep the holidays festive and bright, we hope all gift-givers will take a moment to make safety the top priority when considering gifts," said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. "We at Prevent Blindness America also wish everyone happy holidays and a safe and Happy New Year!"
For more information on safe toys and gifts for children, including the PBA Safe Toys Check List, please visit www.preventblindness.org/safe-toy-checklist, or call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020.
Source: Prevent Blindness America
World AIDS Day
Around the world, about 34 million people are living with HIV. In the United States, about 50,000 people get infected with HIV every year. World AIDS Day is a global initiative to raise awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education about HIV and AIDS.
In recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, Bon Secours Richmond Health System promotes awareness of and encourages testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In the United States, about 1 in 5 people who has HIV doesn't know it. The only way to know for sure whether or not you have HIV is to get tested. Individuals with HIV could still feel healthy, and all ages 15 to 65 are eligible for testing.
HIV is passed from one person to another by:
- Having unprotected sex with a person who has HIV
- Sharing needles with someone who has HIV
- Breastfeeding, pregnancy, or childbirth if the mother has HIV
- Getting a transfusion of blood that's infected with HIV (very rare in the United States)
Learn more about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent this disease at www.worldaidscampaign.org. To find an HIV testing location near you, visit this online locator or speak with your healthcare provider. Call 804-359-WELL or visit www.bonsecours.com if you need help finding a physician close to your home or work.
Source: World AIDS Campaign
Catherine Varney, DO
9600 Patterson Avenue
Richmond, VA 23229
Dr. Varney attended the University of Alabama for her undergraduate degree and the University of South Alabama for her Master of Physical Therapy degree. She received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her family medicine residency from McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah.
Dr. Varney is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Parmesan Chicken Canapés
▪ 2 4-oz chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
▪ 1 medium cucumber
▪ 3 tubs Signature Parmesan Peppercorn Dressing
▪ 4 small stalk(s), chopped celery
▪ ¼ cup chopped green onions, tops only
▪ 1 tsp ground tarragon
▪ 10 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
1. Roast, grill, or poach chicken breasts until done (internal temperature should reach at least 165 degrees F). Let cool.
2. Peel and slice cucumber and set aside.
3. Add chicken, dressing, celery, green onions, and tarragon to food processor, blending well.
4. Evenly divide chicken mixture onto cucumber slices.
5. Garnish with parsley if desired.
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Check out these fun upcoming events!
Surgical Weight Loss Informational Seminars
Wednesdays, December 3, 10, and 17, 5:00-7:00 pm
St. Mary's Hospital, 5801 Bremo Rd., Room 164, Richmond, VA 23226
Join bariatric surgeons, Dr. Eliseo Bautista and Dr. Brennan Carmody, of Bon Secours General Surgery at St. Mary's to learn how they can support your weight loss journey and find out if weight loss surgery is the right option for you. There is no cost to participate and you are under no obligation to move forward with the surgery.
CBS6 Healthy Lifestyle Expo
Saturday, January 31
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. 3rd Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Come out and learn ways to support a healthier you. The expo will feature presentations from health experts, free health screenings, fun activities, and information on products and services relating to healthy living. Expo admission is $3 for adults and kids under 12 are free.
More info here