‘Tis the season for joyous celebrations, but this year, many of us are skipping our traditional holiday gatherings to keep friends and family safe.
While a vaccine for COVID-19 sits on the horizon, visiting loved ones, shopping in-person, and sharing indoor meals remains risky behavior. And whether you take the chance of entertaining or cancel this year’s events, the 2020 holiday season can bring more anxiety than joy -- anxiety that can boost your blood sugars.
How to cope? You may be able to avoid stress-driven blood sugar spikes by building happiness into your daily routine. A few suggestions:
- Treat yourself, but don’t abandon your diabetes plan. After this lousy year, everyone deserves a holiday treat or two. If you want to be super diabetes-friendly, go for a non-food treat. But if what you really crave is some eggnog and a butter cookie (or two), work that extra carbohydrate load into your diet. If you do overdo it (and overindulgence is common in this season, so be kind to yourself), make certain it’s a one-time affair. Keep track of your sugars and get back on your plan with your next meal.
- Exercise to improve your mood. A brisk outdoor walk can lift your spirits and keep sugars in check. Walk with a masked friend or listen to an uplifting podcast or exercise program as you move. The app store is filled with walking music and personal coaching that can banish boredom.
- Put a clock on worry. It may be impossible to abandon anxiety in the midst of the pandemic that has been marked with job losses, food insecurity, and grief, but sometimes it helps to limit your worry time. Listing your concerns in a notebook for 20 minutes a day can help clarify your thinking and, once done, provide a break from constant stress.
- Appreciate small things. Staying in the present moment can help you find little moments of joy. Whether it’s admiring a snowflake or a sitting down with a soothing cup of chai tea, take time to hold onto things that give you pleasure. They can add up.
- Laugh more. Once again, this might be difficult, but spending time laughing with friends or family on Zoom or Facetime can strengthen your immunity, increase blood flow, and reduce stress. If you don’t have anyone to share your laughter, go for a funny podcast or movie and feel yourself relax.
- Practice self-care. Self-care has a bad rap, bringing up images of spa visits and fancy bath balms. Holiday self-care can be less luxurious but equally soothing: take a break from social media or political news, fix a healthy (but delicious) vegetarian meal, or read a book. Or, for you, self-care may mean sitting on your sofa and doing absolutely nothing at all. The important thing to ask yourself what would feel good and nurturing, and then do it.