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  • Writer's pictureUlrike

Goodbye to Xmas Stress!

Christmas is just around the corner, and for most people it is the most beautiful time of the year, when they get together and spend time with the family, share beautiful things and enjoy delicious food. For some people, however, these exact things mean a torment: to spend time in a confined space with family members who you have hardly seen the whole year round, to happily accept gifts that you do not need and to eat loads of food so that the next diet is already pre-programmed as a New Year's resolution..

If you are one of those people for whom Christmas is anything but enjoyable, then let me tell you that you are not alone. I can still remember exactly when Christmas stopped being something I would wait for the whole year round like I did when I was child. It happened at a time when I started growing up, developing other interests, and sharing my life more with other people than with my family. Back then someone told me: wait until you have kids yourself, and the joyous Christmas feelings will all come back. This person was supposed to be right, but before that happened there were still a few festive seasons where I didn’t feel comfortable at all. What I remember of these Christmas days are huge amounts of food, which of course I could not refuse, as well as conversations that ended in arguments every time though you actually wanted to be so harmonious together.

The good news is: how Christmas feels to you is in your hands. Because you are the result of your thoughts.

If, for example, you are already dreading the festive season and you have sleepless nights in advance, because you may be thinking about which gifts you still need to get, what you will NOT eat, or which topics you should avoid at Christmas, then your stress is already pre-programmed. Your thoughts put you on alert, just as if you were facing a real danger. The only difference is that your thoughts never stop, so that you are under constant stress, which in turn triggers a hormone cascade where cortisol plays the main part. Cortisol tells all cells in the body that your life is in danger, even if you are just thinking of the dangerous Christmas roast with dumplings and red cabbage. As a result, not only the metabolism slows down, because digestion would not be helpful in a dangerous situation, but your body also requires the fastest available energy in the form of sugar to counter the supposed danger. Ironically you can find sugar everywhere these days, not only during Christmas season.

Additionally, if your spiral of thoughts causes a sleep deprivation, two other hormones come into play that feed your sweet tooth: Leptin, the "satiety hormone", is shut down by a lack of sleep, while ghrelin, the "hunger hormone", rises with every short night. In other words, permanent sleep deprivation makes you hungry and fat, even if you only think of the Christmas goose all night long, which you will probably never eat.

But what would be the solution? Instead of thinking over and over something that you cannot predict or even influence, imagine Christmas the way you would like it best. Think of it in the most beautiful colours: who would be there, where would you celebrate, what would you eat, what would you do, what would be a good arrangement for gifts etc. In other words: how would a perfect Christmas party look like for you? Maybe the perfect Christmas would mean to you that you don’t celebrate at all but sit under palm trees instead? No matter what it is - imagine that it has already occurred and feel how you can more and more relax. You might even feel joy, happiness or gratitude. Welcome these warm sentiments and really enjoy them. Feel it with all your senses so that you will never forget it.

And now you have different options: Either you organise a Christmas party according to your ideas, even if that would mean that you spend the party separately from your loved ones. Or you can first make small adjustments so that you feel more comfortable yourself (e.g. you say beforehand what you like to eat or whether and which gifts make sense).

And if none of this is possible, you can still influence your thoughts about it. So instead of climbing into a carousel of thoughts beforehand which not only has no way out but also makes you fat, push these thoughts aside and let the Christmas days come. Accept it as it is and focus on the things you like. Always remember that warm feelings which you felt when you imagined your perfect Christmas. That way will not change Christmas itself, but you will change what your negative thoughts do to your body.

Because in a state of gratitude and joy, stress with all its hormonal consequences has no place.

As a result you will sleep better and you’ll generally make better decisions, not only regarding your eating behaviour. You’ll digest your food better and you’ll be more patient with yourself and others. Furthermore you are less susceptible to the cotton candy at the Christmas market and the virus in the subway, because your immune system, which has also been shut down during stress, can work better again.

And all by just changing your thoughts. You see, it's worth it and you have it in your own hands!

I wish you a relaxed Christmas season and a happy and healthy New Year!

P.S. If you want to change more in the coming year than just your eating habits and stop dieting forever, then I recommend you my personal coaching. To schedule a free initial phone call contact me at

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