Use your mind for a change.
Do you experience a niggle of anxiety or sadness every time you hear a Christmas carol?
This is the niggle that nips at you throughout December while you’re down at the mall. It intensifies as you lock eyes with shop assistants wearing reindeer antlers. It cuffs you on the side of the head as you glimpse that fat bearded bloke in red and white, ho-ho-ing and ringing a bell to remind you that the big day is nigh.
Christmas is a bittersweet reminder of connection – or lack of it. It’s a reminder of innocence and its loss. It’s a time to either re-connect with loved ones or remember passed ones.
The media portrays Christmas as a time of joy and peace, but not everyone feels it. And even if, like me, you bravely announce that “Christmas is cancelled this year” (how surly can you get?), you can’t cancel it. The media won’t let you. The shopping mall won’t let you. Your family won’t let you. You’re stuck with it. The niggling anxiety sticks to you like a soggy old bandaid.
Here are some tips that may help you stay sane on Christmas Day and emerge unscathed.
I’m not near family anymore, so my Christmas Day is just me and the cats. But, there have been years when I did have a family of sorts, and I would see them only once a year at Christmas. As we exchanged gifts, we would look at each other thinking, “Really?”
If your Christmas has become an out-of-control merry-go-round to nowhere, remind yourself in the lead-up to the day that you are a caring, generous human being. (Okay, you may hear faint voice saying, “No, you’re not”. Ignore it and get therapy later.) It’s all about practice, practice, practice. Tell yourself something often enough and you might just believe it.
Smile and rehearse your cheery Christmas greeting. See yourself relaxed, well, happy, and calm in the presence of one and all. Hear everyone comment on how well you look. (“My word, it seems you’ve somehow lost that rotten temper you had last year”).
As you engross yourself in the activities of Christmas Day, let go of those depressing thoughts about so-and-so or that bigoted old sod who just has to have the final word. Let him/her have it – the final word, that is. Feel yourself growing in stature, strong, calm in their presence.
If, despite your best efforts, someone continues to press your buttons as they speak to you, here’s what you do: Stare at a spot between their eyebrows. You will look attentive yet curious. Don’t worry if they think you’re drunk or drugged. Does it matter what they think?
It’s boring, I know, to be told to breathe. It happened to me recently when a well-meaning friend told me to take some deep breaths and I nearly decked him. (By the way, If you’re with someone who is upset, let them vent. Don’t speak. They will eventually calm down, and when they do, take a deep breath yourself. Chances are, they will mirror you and take a deep breath as well.)
We should all practise deep breathing regularly. The correct way to breathe is into your abdomen, which hopefully won’t grow any bigger over Christmas. Don’t worry about its size or if anyone notices as you push it out with an in-breath. Keep your chest still and just keep breathing deeply into your abdomen, then slowly release the breath. The more you practise this, the more quickly it will become your normal way of breathing, and the more calm you will begin to feel most of the time.
No, not a cigarette. When you feel upset, overwhelmed, anxious, imagine washing light through your body, as if you’re standing under a shower. For a few moments, your will feel lighter. It’s like washing away the negativity that collects around you like grey blobs that attract other grey blobs into your energy field, until you’re one big grey blob of murk. Imagining the light coming through the top of your head, moving through your body, and out into the earth will dissolve and remove the negativity.
Are you stressing about the temptation to eat mountains of food like a voracious, out-of-control Christmas zombie? If you can’t or won’t practise moderation, at least eat a big salad at some stage during the day. This will ensure that you absorb some much-needed nutrients, because cooked, nuked food doesn’t always nourish you. Raw veggies are one of the best ways to boost your immune system.
We give ourselves such a hard time that we forget we’re human. Being human means we don’t feel good all the time. We are surrounded by all sorts of people – some kind, some not so kind. When that niggle of anxiety nips at you, your first reaction is to deny it. Instead, acknowledge it (“I feel like crap right now”). Let it be. And if you feel so inclined, thank it. Don’t try and change it. Don’t analyse it. Believe it or not, it will pass. It has to. That’s the nature of emotions and feelings.
Being nice to yourself means allowing your feelings to flow through you like a stream. Sometimes the stream moves fast and furious; at other times it’s still and steady. By owning your feelings, you integrate and transform them. Remind yourself that you are not your feelings, you are not your thoughts. The real you is the one who watches and witnesses those thoughts and feelings.
In July 2011, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published findings based on a meta-analysis that revealed a ‘72% increase of cardiovascular events that include congestive heart failure and stroke’ among people taking Pfizer’s smoking cessation medication called Chantix (Champix in Australia).
This is an alarming statistic, yet medical practitioners continue to prescribe the drug, whose main ingredient is varenicline. Among the side effects are nausea, headaches, sleeping difficulties, weird dreams, flatulence, abdominal pain, and constipation. (Perhaps with side effects like these, you feel too sick to smoke anyway.)
Of course, Pfizer, the manufacturer of the drug, downplays the findings and even states that ‘about one in 100 people in the studies had cardiovascular problems’. Hmmmm. See Smoke & Pfizer get in your eyes for more.
Perhaps it’s not worth the risk.
Hypnosis has been proven time and again to be an effective way of quitting smoking. But, like any change in habit, the most important success factor is your motivation and reasons for quitting. Once those are established, you are more able to change your mindset as you receive positive suggestions for freedom and a whole new lifestyle.
Sonal Singh, Yoon K. Loke, John G. Spangler, Curt D. Furberg, Risk of serious adverse cardiovascular events associated with varenicline: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ, September 6, 2011, vol. 183, no. 12, July 4, 2011.
Varenicline, Wikipedia, December 2011.
Debbie Nicholson, Chantix: Immense Rise in Cardiovascular Issues Probable, 5 July 2011.
Why do we eat a bar of chocolate instead of a celery stick when we want to reward ourselves? It seems unfair that the foods and drinks we love most are usually bad for our health and wellbeing. Is it possible to develop a desire for healthy food? Yes, it is. But first, you have to ditch your sugar craving and its disastrous consequences for your health.
Robert H. Lustig, MD (see his video Sugar: The Bitter Truth on YouTube), Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF in the U.S., says that any hypothesis attempting to explain obesity must also explain why we have an epidemic of obese 6-month olds worldwide. It’s got to be more than diet and exercise if children as young as 6 months are obese. Yes, we’re eating more (for example, American women are eating 335 calories more a day than they did 20 years ago), but how come?
According to Dr. Lustig, there’s something wrong with our body’s biochemical feedback system that controls energy balance. Leptin, the hormone in fat cells that tells the brain you’ve eaten enough, doesn’t seem to be working. And it’s not the fat that’s the problem, it’s the carbohydrates. Which ones? Soft drinks. Drink one can of soft drink (150 calories) a day for a year and you increase your weight by a whopping 7 kilos. (And let’s not get started on Diet Coke. That’s a whole different scary topic.)
Dr. Lustig talks about the Coca Cola Conspiracy. One can of coke contains caffeine (a mild diuretic) and 55mg of salt (equal to a pizza). Salt and caffeine together will make you thirstier. Add to that the sugar in Coke, which hides the taste of salt in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and you have a deadly equation for developing obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and other maladies associated with high-sugar intake.
Researchers estimate that since 1975, every Amercan has been consuming 28 kilograms of HFCS a year. HFCS has replaced glucose because it’s sweeter and cheaper to manufacture. It has found its way into everything: hamburger buns, pretzels, barbeque sauce, tomato sauce, bread. It is also used to cover the bad taste of high-energy drinks, such as Powerade. But be warned: HFCS is a poison.
It’s not about the calories. Yes, we’re eating more, but it’s HFCS that we’re eating more of. Why is it poisonous? First, it does not suppress the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Second, fructose ingestion does not stimulate insulin because there are no receptors in the cells for fructose, which means that leptin does not increase to tell the brain that you have eaten enough. Third, the liver can’t process HFCS.
Glucose, on the other hand, can be processed by every living organism. Glucose consumption, together with the pancreas, the liver and the brain keep you in balance. The bottom line is that because the liver can’t process HFCS, it is stored as fat. When you eat processed foods and drink soft drinks, you are consuming fat. That is how a high-sugar diet becomes a high-fat diet. Watch Dr. Lustig’s YouTube video and get scared, really scared. You’ll never touch a soft drink again, let alone a biscuit or any other processed food.
Hypnosis assists by helping you to say NO to high-sugar, processed foods. It helps by releasing you from sugar addiction and replacing your food intake with healthy, natural foods. It helps by encouraging you to care for your body and desist from contaminating it with nasty, poisonous, processed foods that will kill you before your time.
Robert H. Lustig, M.D., on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM.