How to Practice Self-Care While Participating in Family Expectations

If the holidays have taken an emotional and physical toll on you in the past, now is the time to start preparing a plan of action so you can practice a new way of being with the holidays.

As we enter this holiday season, there are a few things that are vital to our self-care:

  1. First is the acknowledgement that we truly are worthy of listening to that deep part of ourselves that helps show us how to recognize and meet our own needs, both emotional and physical, during this time. Often we put off meeting our needs because of the fear that we are being selfish. The truth is that taking care of ourselves always puts us in a better place and makes daily life more sustainable, especially during the holidays.
  2. Be present with your needs. Know that the better you are taking care of yourself, the easier it will be to spend time with those you love.
  3. Breath. There is nothing easier and more immediate than breathing to re-center and rejuvenate. Take breaks from family gatherings to reconnect with nature, there is energy and power in nature to rejuvenate yourself.
  4. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, healthy foods, and exercise to turn the tide on stress. Keep the focus on yourself in order to stay balanced. Find creative ways to work these three vital components into the days of celebrating. These are the ways to insure enough rejuvenation in order to be able to function better and have a healthy attitude.
  5. Keep the focus on gratitude. The attitude of gratitude changes the energy of any gathering. Gratitude lends a special vitality to everyone and every experience during this time. Find something to focus on that reawakens a sense of gratitude.

There are a few general toxic emotions that can be cleared using the UTUE process during the holidays. Taking a few moments and clearing these emotions will help put the celebration back in your step.

  1. Clear the rules and regulations about putting ourselves last when it is time for family and friends to gather.
  2. Clear unrealistic expectations of the holidays meeting everyone’s needs.
  3. Clear taking the sometimes volatile emotions of the holidays personally.
  4. Clear comparing your family to other families, judgment and a sense of competition. Good old fashion acceptance works magic here.

Let’s look at Mary and how she participated in the holidays five years ago. Mary used to spend tons of time making lists, shopping, and agonizing over the meals as she believed that this year she would be creating a gathering that would be totally “perfect”.  Starting the process, she would always have the highest hopes and goal to finally get it right. And to all appearances, she would, and yet she would end up not feeling satisfied or happy at all.

As time went on, frustrations mounted and nerves would grow thin. She would cut back on sleep, start stress eating just to feel good for a few moments, adding in chocolate and caffeine as a way of getting that extra boost of energy that seemed necessary at the moment. Staying up late to finish that last appetizer, trying to get the house cleaned, and spending extra time in traffic took its toll on Mary’s energy and her attitude.

When the day rolled around, Mary tried to regain that sense of holiday celebration and gratitude. Deep within her though, was a sense of let down. Something was wrong, and worse, she felt like she was “wrong” and she just kept trying harder to make the day happen.

Today Mary has an entirely new approach to the holiday season. She has been able to acknowledge that the old stressful way of preparing for the holidays no longer works for her. She had started clearing with her UTUE teacher, and has been able to clear the rules that she hadn’t questioned around how holidays are supposed to happen. She also has been able to stop trying to make up for all the times she lost her temper during these family gatherings as she cleared old guilt and shame that kept tainting her ability to be in the present moment.

Today she is able to know that seeing to her needs for ample sleep, simple planning, exercise and wholesome foods makes the holidays a lot more manageable and enjoyable for her, and therefore everyone else involved. She is also seeing that her need for the perfect holiday celebration was an obstacle to having a real holiday celebration. Things are much more laid back and simple these holidays at Mary’s home. And they can be at yours too!

Written by Merrilee Town, Certified UTUE Practitioner

By Samantha Gilbert, BA, CHNP

  1. Know true hunger. Teach your body the difference between physical hunger and social or psychological hunger. This takes some time to master, especially when your brother keeps bringing up your old high school boyfriend who wore sweatbands all the time and thought he was Eddie Van Halen in front of your new boyfriend, whom you’ve only been dating for a few months. Meditation and Clearing are amazing tools to have at your disposal during these times. Simply slip away to the bathroom or take a walk outside and ask yourself “what are the feelings that are provoking my anxiety and frustration?” Then clear them or meditate for a moment to see if you are truly physically hungry, or just full of anxiety that is triggering your desire to eat. The answer may surprise you. Trust me, this works.
  2. Eat slowly. Practice keeping your fork down until you have finished your last bite of food and take at least 15 minutes to finish your meal. Many digestive problems can be eliminated by slowing down because your brain needs time to tell your body you are, in fact, full. If you eat slowly and mindfully, conscious of every bite, you’ll probably eat less but enjoy your food more. Think the French Paradox is a load of crap? Think again. Every time I am in France I always lose weight, and I attribute this to the greater positive energy generated in the kitchen and at the dinner table with people I love. Savor what you are eating. Make love to it, and enjoy the process.
  3. Eat to 80% fullness. What does this mean? It means eat until you are just satisfied. Remember points #1 and #2 above and you’ll master this one in no time.
  4. Get active. Just because it’s the holidays and your gym suddenly becomes a ghost town or you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can’t work up a sweat. Staying active will help keep your mind clear and your metabolism up. It can also help you cope with Aunt Martha’s annoying comments about your new hairdo. Besides, who doesn’t love a nice, long walk after dinner snuggled next to your sweetheart?
  5. Get plenty of sleep. Yes, I know you are in charge of your family’s dessert committee (heck, you probably are the committee), plus you’re not thrilled about seeing your in-laws, but trust me, adequate sleep will do you wonders. Not only does sleep change your hormone balance and ability to recover from stress, but the more sleep you get the leaner you are. The less sleep you get, the fatter, weaker and sicker you’re likely to be. And you definitely don’t need to be dealing with that. Quick tip, turn off your computer and TV at least two hours before hitting the sheets.
  6. Ditch the white stuff. You can still make wonderful desserts without the use of refined sugar. Coconut palm sugar is a great 1 to 1 replacement to white sugar and is loaded with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Other great options include date sugar, maple syrup (grade B and organic), molasses and raw honey (not for infants). Keep in mind that these sweeteners are still sugar and regardless of marketing tactics, are still highly glycemic. Therefore, I recommend keeping them to a minimum.
  7. Enjoy proteins and fats first. I know Aunt Martha will have platefuls of sugary finger foods, and little crystal bowls from the 1960’s scattered throughout the house full of peanut M & M’s to entice you, but trust me, you’ll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner so much more if your blood sugar is on even keel. Instead, go check out the deviled eggs, or better yet, eat a healthy snack before leaving the house such as an apple with a handful of sprouted almonds or a protein shake with coconut oil. Your adrenal glands will thank you.
  8. Eliminate vegetable oils. This really is a biggie. All vegetable oils (canola, soy, corn, safflower, etc.) use solvents, usually hexane, during the extraction process that still remain in the finished product. No amount of refining will remove these harmful substances. So called “heart healthy” canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Don’t buy into industry marketing tactics. These oils are very toxic. Think nut and seeds oils are better? Nope. These oils are so delicate they go rancid very quickly, long before they hit the shelf. Instead, opt for raw coconut oil and raw or organic butter for cooking and baking. Use olive oil sparingly and only after cooking. Click here to read my complete article about oil processing.
  9. Replace white flour with sprouted options. The abuse of grains through today’s present processing methods renders them devoid of nutrients. Sprouting breaks down hard to digest starches and anti-nutrients leaving you with healthier (and tastier) pies, cakes and breads. Check out To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company for more information.
  10. Support your local farmer. In 1992, the USDA approved a rule to permit irradiation of raw, fresh or frozen packaged poultry and produce. Irradiation depletes foods of their valuable vitamin and mineral content. Conventional animals are also subjected to deplorable living conditions, and injected with a wide variety of hormones, antibiotics, and flavor enhancers. In other words, you are throwing your health and money down the toilet. Buying from your local farmer supports healthier animals, a better environment, and better health for you and your family. And I almost forgot, your food will taste better too! How’s that for a Rock Star Thanksgiving? Check out the Organic Consumers Association for more details.

Yummmm, I can smell that pumpkin pie from here! And that seasonal music and lighting… It’s getting to be that time of year again.

We are entering the holiday season, which is a time of family, traditions, memories, expectations, socializing, entertaining, and LOTS of STRESS.

Think about this, November is National Diabetes Month. Right at Thanksgiving (and a variety of religious holidays), when families and friends are getting together, having parties and dinners, baking up a storm and … well, EATING!  We are also being alerted that diabetes is reaching alarming numbers. I just recently heard that over a third of a billion people have diabetes. Something is very wrong here!

What IS going on?

While most of us have some positive anticipation about being with family we may not have seen for a while, there is usually some anxiety about how it will go, and often for very good reason.

How many of you have experienced getting back together with relatives and felt the pull to fall into an old family role that may not be serving your present life?

What about old hurts and unresolved conflicts hidden behind the holiday smiles and hugs?

How about competition with siblings, cousins and co-workers? What about the lingering grief about a relative who is no longer with us that gets put on the back burner until we are together again, yet remains unexpressed. What about the company party or the school parties where we are supposed to add all of this activity into an already busy life? We don’t even have to mention the financial stress of this time, and sometimes not enough resources to pull off the expected holiday.

That’s a lot of stress!

The truth is we think we crave sweets and goodies during this time, but what do you really crave?

I don’t know about you, but for me, I really crave connection.

We may crave being loved, being seen and important, being respected. So much of our holiday season evokes a warm, happy, nostalgic, cheery time.

We all want that.

But, really, how often does the holiday season meet with our expectations, our longings, and our true cravings? Many of us seek to satisfy these unmet needs, desires and cravings with overeating, choosing foods we normally would not eat, alcohol and other indulgences. Not really being attentive, we seek to meet our emotional needs with something that doesn’t actually fulfill us.

What keeps us from having the connection, the love, the respect and importance we crave?

Who is running your show? Do you depend on the other people in your life to stop expecting things from you, to connect with you in a way you want, to give you the love and respect you desire? Do you give your power to your family and friends to determine for you if you are valuable, lovable, and important?

The truth is, each one of these things is our own responsibility, and the quality of our relationships has to do with our emotional makeup and our personality, not the other person’s.

At UTUE, we can guide you to effectively resolve and clear old patterns, emotions, expectations, and energies that keep you from having what you really need, want and desire.

We specialize in Green Personalities. This is your personality that stems directly from your core, rather than from unseen motivations and drives. We consider this an organic personality that doesn’t need to look outside itself for satisfaction by needing things from others or filling tummies with holiday indulgences.

Written by Amanda Zabel, M.A.Ed., LPC, NCC, Certified UTUE Practitioner

Getting together with families during the holidays is a happy time but can also be stressful and full of emotional trauma. This stress is the result of emotional triggers and past memories that are unpleasant and become activated during the time together. When these triggers and old memories are present we tend to over eat. These negative emotions are difficult to handle and the UTUE Clearing Process can be very effective as a preventative.