Healthy "U" December Newsletter
Tips to Minimize Your Stress, Keep Your Sanity, and Enjoy Your Holidays
by Dr. Lynda Sowbel, Associate Professor of Social Work
Holidays often bring increased stress with the many demands of shopping, partying, cleaning the house or entertaining others. Here are some practical tips for minimizing your stress and maximizing your coping strategies during the holidays.
1. Plan ahead: Set aside specific times for shopping, visiting others, party prep or wrapping presents so all your holiday tasks don't pile up.
2. Stick to a budget before you go shopping. Don't increase your stress by overspending or by trying to buy happiness with a barrage of gifts. Instead donate to a charity in someone's name, have your children gift their unused toys to those less fortunate, or make a homemade gift.
3. Take time for self-care: Spending just 15 minutes alone without distractions, e.g., clearing your mind, praying, meditating, slowing your breathing, listening to soothing music, or even taking a walk, may refresh you enough to handle the many tasks you need to do. Be sure to give yourself permission to say no to others when you already have too much to do.
4. Keep your priorities about holiday time with your loved ones, keep your sense of humor, try to accept family and friends as they are even when they don't live up to your hopes or expectations, concentrate on the more important things in life which may include deeper, more spiritual contemplation.
5. Be realistic. Holidays don't have to be perfect or just like they were in previous years. If you have had a recent loss or can't be with your loved ones this year, it is ok to feel sad, express your feelings, and/or ask for support.
6. Spend time with those you feel closest to. If it is a challenge to be with your family, think of and plan time with your 'created family'. Talk to or be with those who nurture you most during the holidays.
Food Day Recap
"Food Day" at Hood was successfully co-hosted by the Healthy "U" Committee and student environmental club, HEAT, on Monday, November 19. This year, the evening dinner which always features sustainable, plant-based dishes, was SOLD OUT! Some 60 undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty were in attendance. In addition to information leaflets and a table hosted by Frederick's own "Common Market", the evening's highlight was keynote speaker Brent Kim from Johns Hopkins "Center for a Livable Future."
Kim's talk, "Food, Freedom, Choice and Transparency: The Power of Your Fork", noted the environmental and social effects from the food choices each of us make multiple times a day, 365 days per year. In fact, an individual eating three meals per day makes the choice over 1,000 times each year. Kim noted that each "eating choice" is an exercise in freedom and that this freedom grants us tremendous power to protect and uplift ourselves and others. His presentation revealed the hidden effects of our food choices, including impacts to personal health, rural communities, the safety of our food supply, clean water, animal welfare and the broader health of the public. Kim left our audience with a feeling of empowerment and the tools to make more informed choices. With this information in hand, we all can wield the power of our forks--over 1,000 times per year--to affect positive change.
Hood College Holiday Drop In
Friday, December 14, from 2:00-4:30 p.m. gather with colleagues in the Whitaker Campus Commons for Hood's faculty and staff annual holiday party. The Healthy "U" Committee will recognize and reward Summer Challenge participants. A lot of miles were jogged, walked, and biked this summer!
New Fitness Opportunity - Coming in January
Check out Hodson Fitness Center this winter. Jeremy Mattoon will conduct an orientation on how to use the machines in the center. Did you know we have a piece of equipment that works every muscle group in your body? The center is home to a Matrix functional trainer as well as many other state of the art pieces of equipment. Why not learn the proper use of our fitness machines, get some pointers from Jeremy, and work on that New Year's resolution to get fit! Look for the orientation schedule in January.
Mindfulness Meditation - Mondays
Meditation group will meet this Thursday, December 13 from 11:30 a.m.-noon in Coffman Chapel basement
Meditation with Beth O'Malley resumes the last week of January on Monday afternoons from 12:15 p.m.-12:45 p.m. in the McHenry Interfaith Prayer Room in Coffman Chapel basement.
Too much on your calendar this season? Feeling stressed? Taking even a few moments to be quiet and breathe deeply can help you stay sane. Rick Hanson, author of Buddha's Brain, the Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom says,
"Breathing brings you home. Body and mind twine together in the breath...Speed up the breath and there's new energy. Slow it down and you calm. Inhale and oxygen surges into your brain while the arousing sympathetic nervous system activates and accelerates the heartbeat. Exhale and activate the soothig peacful parasympathetic nervous system, so the heart beats more slowly... The breath feels like life inside. No wonder it's been traditionally linked to spiritual matters. To 'Inspire ' is to inhale -- to 'inspirit,'' to uplift."
Give yourself the gift of mindful breathing, a little calm in the midst of chaos!
Yoga at Hood - Mondays and Thursdays
Free yoga classes, made possible by Sol Yoga, are held Mondays 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. and Thursdays 12:45 p.m.-1:45 p.m. in the Dance Studio in Gambrill Gymnasium. The first class will take place on January 24 and run through May 2. No classes will be held on March 11 or March 14.
Hood Walking Group - Still Walking on Tuesdays
Leaving at noon from the plaza between Alumnae Hall and Hodson, the group walks for approximately 30 minutes rain or shine.
Naughty and Nice Challenge: Like to watch tv? Are you addicted to your technology? Take a break. For example, walk away from your computer or during commercials consider doing sit-ups, push-ups, or walking/jogging in place. Get up and be active.
Have a wonderful and restful holiday!