Psychopathology of the Pot Belly

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Allow me preface this discussion with the following: I do not personally know anyone my age who looks like the individual in the above photograph.

~~~

Yesterday I was standing in the meats section of a grocery store when I noticed a man in his mid-50’s sporting what is commonly referred to as a “pot belly.”

In the upper thresholds of obesity, it most closely resembles that of a pregnant woman at full term, which is 39 weeks to 40 weeks and 6 days.

Like women in such a condition, the protuberance is surprisingly hard, and as round as a basketball at 4 times regulation size, but similar pressure.

As I stood there waiting for him to finish ordering his 22 pounds of heavily marbled red bloody meat, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the butcher hacked it all off in one fell swoop.

Would the man thank him?

See, if it weren’t for the Volvo-sized anomaly situated at his midsection, the balance of his anatomy would appear completely normal.

This is why people think these things.

Kids do it all the time with Legos, so stop judging.

Without formal medical analysis, I feel comfortable speculating that he and men like him suffer type-2 diabetes, impotence, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression, the later of which having paved the way for the aforementioned 4.

~~~

With this in mind, some people eat when they’re depressed.

Why they do this is beyond me.

When I was depressed I would run, swim, bike, and lift weights – sometimes all day – and often, night – until the demons went back to bed.

Not only was this a successful ritual, but I came out of it looking and feeling better.

Of course, this has been my ritual for the better part of my life, including all of it.

So what the hell happened to the guy next to me?

Medical Realities

After age 40, the natural reduction in testosterone means excess calories are often stored as visceral fat. We also naturally lose muscle mass as we age, the key word here being ‘naturally,’ because if you do nothing we will lose everything. This also applies to money, if this helps.

If we exercise, however, we can pretty much check that one off the list.

Unfortunately, most men don’t exercise regularly, so they lose muscle mass, and their metabolisms stop burning at a solid rate. When you lose muscle — about 1 pound per year after age 30 — your metabolism declines, and it becomes easier to gain fat, which often goes straight to the belly in men.

The Psychopathology

With these facts in mind, if a man were largely [no puns] inactive his entire life, and at age 40 his testosterone levels started to slip, he’d get hit like a bag of bricks.

Not only would he have no lean muscle mass to keep pace with the hormonal attrition, but the necessary adjustments to his lifestyle would be as tough as substituting heroin for treadmills in the mind of a junkie.

I do know a couple of large men who are big enough overall to pull it off without completely embarrassing themselves.

One of them, in particular, was a collegiate athlete with a commanding presence.

He, like Chris Christie, is an achiever with an otherwise full life.

This is rare. But in spite of their relatively healthy self-esteems, health still takes a hit. A big one.

I once heard a Bariatric surgeon say that fat is genetic, and therefore, men who are obese can’t help themselves without lap-band surgery.

At this writing he is anorexic after beating his own fat addiction.

I assume genetic includes psychiatric predispositions.

Solutions

1] Contrary to popular opinion, the first order of business is to seek guidance from a psychiatrist.

2] The second order of business is to find a good Internist who will run complete blood analysis followed by a stress EKG and heart scan.

3] Third order of business is to go back to the psychiatrist and give him or her the results. You will start from a low baseline from which you will rebuild what has been lost since childhood.

4] Your spouse will not understand any of this and in many cases pay a hit man to kill you if any of this starts to work and you rethink your living will [and marriage]. Understand that part of your therapy will involve your life choices, including your choice in mates. It’s all tied together.

5] Once you get a handle [no puns] on who you are – and as a result, what happened along the way – you will realize that while your genetics played a role in all of it, your mental health sealed the deal.

R.I.P. Starman [1947-2016]

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3393470/David-Bowie-dies-18-month-battle-cancer.html

So, so sad, but never forgotten. Ever.

He’s immortal after all.

Bowie send-offs from around the world…

I’m Devastated! This great Artist changed my life! First concert i ever saw in Detroit! R.IP. ️ #rebelheart pic.twitter.com/hGfxI967Bw

— Madonna (@Madonna) January 11, 2016

David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 11, 2016

Bowie existed so all of us misfits learned that an oddity was a precious thing. he changed the world forever.

— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) January 11, 2016

PM: I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss.

— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) January 11, 2016

DEVASTATED… A LEGEND IS GONE

— Cher (@cher) January 11, 2016

MESSAGE FROM IGGY: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is. – Iggy Pop”

— Iggy Pop (@IggyPop) January 11, 2016

A rock legend is gone. Thanks for the music and the laughs @David Bowie Real pic.twitter.com/N1dOAUUJAm

— Matt Lauer (@MLauer) January 11, 2016

The Rolling Stones are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of our dear friend David Bowie… 1/2

— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) January 11, 2016

As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original. 2/2 #DavidBowie

— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) January 11, 2016

Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Low, Heroes. David Bowie’s last album is written, but the melodies will linger on forever. A true legend.

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) January 11, 2016

Just heard. There aren’t many legends left to lose. Unthinkable and tremendously sad. #Bowie #Heroes

— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) January 11, 2016

I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.

— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 11, 2016

David Bowie was a true innovator, a true creative. May he rest in peace #RIPDavidBowie

— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) January 11, 2016

David Bowie, you will be sorely missed. Bowie’s “Changes” and the Ziggy story songs were a major influence for me. pic.twitter.com/N1nkD9h82W

— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) January 11, 2016

Rip Father of all us freaks. Sad sad day. Love always Legendary singer David Bowie dies at 69 https://t.co/ezRx7NVhSC # via HuffPostEnt

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 11, 2016

Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among #Heroes. Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall. https://t.co/soaOUWiyVl #RIPDavidBowie

— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) January 11, 2016

He never seemed of this earth. Now he’s left it. He bent rules, gender, genres, and our minds. RIP David Bowie. One. Of. A. Kind.

— josh groban (@joshgroban) January 11, 2016

“But the key to the city is in the sun that pins the branches to the sky…” #DavidBowie

— Joseph Gordon-Levitt (@hitRECordJoe) January 11, 2016

David Bowie is a searing genius who will inspire millions for thousands of years. Planets will be named after him.

— Val Kilmer (@valkilmer) January 11, 2016

Words cannot express: RIP David Bowie https://t.co/g40zLWl3qq pic.twitter.com/R94E6LMw9C

— Brian Eno (@dark_shark) January 11, 2016

RIP David . I loved your music. I loved you. One of the greatest performance artists to have ever lived. #sorrow

— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) January 11, 2016

David Bowie broke the mold on both sides of the Atlantic. A one of a kind creative force. #MyFavBowieTrack https://t.co/FPE00Gb6gi

— Matthew Barzun (@MatthewBarzun) January 11, 2016

Ground Control to Major Tom Commencing countdown, engines on Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (David Bowie)

— Gianfranco Ravasi (@CardRavasi) January 11, 2016

Dennis Quaid at 61

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Dennis Quaid is 6’0″, #175 at what looks to be well below 10% body fat.

By comparison, I’m 6’1″, #230 at 13% body fat, which places me in the top 1% of my age group.

Most people consider this extraordinarily fit.

But I’m not shredded like a slab of turkey jerky, and herein lies the rub.

See, in order to put on – and hold – lean muscle mass at less then 10% body fat [at age 61!], you’ll need help of the preternatural kind.

To wit, Quaid has more lean, angular mass on his shoulders and arms than any man his age can normally produce without “help.”

I’m not accusing him of steroid use because I don’t know him. Maybe he’s a genetic freak. I’ve seen a few in my day.

For everyone else, pulling off tons of lean mass with low body fat is impossible without tinkering with testosterone levels.

What? You think we’re immortal?

Since when do men our age look like Quaid?

Some of you may consider him too lean, too small…kind of ragged, wasted even.

But for men who want this look, it can be acquired at “wellness” clinics and individual physicians operating throughout the United States.

REALITY

1] If you want to perform at levels similar to what you achieved at age 30, you will need a lot more than hard work coupled with a hope and a prayer. 

2] I’m not judging, just exposing the truth.

3] You have to decide if the consequences of steroid use are worth the risks.

4] Denial is the mother of delusion.

5] I don’t care how Dennis Quaid chooses to live his life. His job is to entertain, not inspire.

Just trying to keep it real around here.

Rich Men Prefer Skinny Women: New Research Exposé

street-style-leather-moto-jacket-over-the-shoulders-paris-fashion-week-ray-ban-wayfarer-sunglasses-layered-necklaces-simple-white-dress-peek-a-boo-bra-metallic-waist-thin-belt-small-chaiSs I stated many times before [on this blog], wealthy women prefer to date their financial equals and those withing a few years of their age.

Men? Not so much [on either count].

According to researchers at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., a new study to be published in the January 2016 edition of the peer-reviewed academic journal “Personality and Individual Differences,” validates what I have always believed, that men with more education had strong preferences for female partners who were “good looking,” “slender,” and “younger.” Some 95% of men with an advanced degree said it was “essential” that their partner was “good looking” versus 77% of those with a high school education or less, and 84% of those men said it was essential that their partner was slender versus just 12% of those with a high school education or less.

So what does it all mean?

A depressing confirmation of the worst gender stereotypes that suggests the dating game has not progressed much in the last 100 years? And maybe 1000 if you want to get technical about it.

Using an example from the animal kingdom, “Female bower birds select males with the nicest nest, and in many insects, the female selects a male who offers her a nice gift of prey he has captured.”

Translation: Women prefer nice neighborhoods with swimming pools, just like insects.

Furthermore men prefer slender bodies, which are associated with youth.

As the body’s metabolism slows as one grows older and, slender physiques could represent fertility for men.

I might also add that, beyond the specter of fertility, slender women look better in Chanel and are easier to physically dominate, which is a big deal for many.

The study may help people understand why the advertising industry (and society) puts so much emphasis on women being thin. And it may also throw light on why men strive so aggressively for higher income and assertively negotiate for raises.

Their income clearly affects not only their ability to pay for dates but also their likelihood of attracting a beautiful young, slender partner who looks good in Chanel.

As we all know, men are more visual than women and women have a stronger need to be taken care of both emotionally and financially.

So people with desirable traits are in a position to be more selective.

The study found that both genders reported nearly equally that being with someone physically attractive “to them” is important, which is at least hopeful because it allows for physical imperfections — not the unattainable physical flawlessness we’re bombarded with every day in the media.

Nonetheless, I have seen men with more money than God check each and every line item and then choose the more perfect human female the planet has ever witnessed. Of course, what people want and what they actually get are two different things.
If, for example, a man wants a physically flawless woman with a warm heart, he usually gets only one of them. There’s only so much you can expect from a mating dynamic based on a cold-blooded exchange of commodities.

REAL WORLD PREFERENCES OF AFFLUENT OLDER MEN AND THE WOMEN IN THEIR LIVES:

1] Slender women are preferred because they look best in designer apparel.

2] Slender women are preferred because they look better educated, and thus, more sophisticated.

3] Slender women are preferred because they are easy to physically dominate.

4] Slender women are preferred because in more sophisticated circles, image is everything.

5] Slender women are preferred because the chances of them becoming obese down the road are far less probable. 

Notice I didn’t mention anything whatsoever about character.

This is because men with money assume that women who crave it will just fall in line.

And while they appear to do just that, their reasons for doing have more to do with attracting even wealthier men who expect the same thing.

Why Everyone Hates Rich Older Men Who Date Beautiful Young Women

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In general, the economy sucks: The jobs market is flat, the stock market [at this writing] is down over 400 points [ended the day down 276…thank God!], all major global economies are on thin ice, terrorism continues to rage, and, all the while, the old dude in the above caption couldn’t care less. 

No wonder people are pissed off.

There are a select few men who live in the socioeconomic stratosphere, an invisible force field that renders them impervious to the vagaries of mortal life on earth. It is here that they are able to pick from an infinite line-up of beautiful young woman trying to gain access to the same invisible force field. 

While no one is truly impervious, being well fortified is plenty.

www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/11695827/Why-does-everyone-hate-it-when-rich-old-men-date-young-attractive-women.html

HARD COLD TRUTH

When you have enough money, nothing hobbles your lifestyle. Think $50,000,000 and above and it’s all an abstraction. At that amount, $10 million here or there is irrelevant. Start with a quarter of that amount and suddenly everything becomes a much bigger deal. Catch my drift? Ad to this the fact that beautiful young women are not driven by physical beauty as much as physical money, this begins to make sense.  

In the above article, Duncan Bannatyne, 66, is 534th on the Sunday Times Rich list with an estimated net worth of $257,000,000.

His stunning young girlfriend, Nigora Whitehorn, 35, is from Uzbekistan and works as a dental treatment coordinator and has no discernible net worth.

So it all balances out as you can see.

What the take away from these and stories like it?

RICH GUYS STILL GET THE GIRLS.

Money first, love second.

Better yet, object first, human second.

Feminists are pissed off because women who marry into wealth are perceived to be prostituting themselves and somehow betraying those women who choose to tough it out in the workplace.

Young men rant about it because they loath swallowing the fact fact that their good looks and youth had been trumped by Bannatyne’s wealth and charisma.

According to one one rich guy, “At heart, we’re all still cavemen. The men want the biggest cave at the top of the hill and the women want to feel safe living in that cave at the top of the hill. The guy with the biggest cave will always get the girl.” 

Yes this sucks.

But if you had that cave you wouldn’t be complaining.

Go ahead and hate on.

They don’t care a wit because they don’t have to…

Note:

According to a recent US News and World report article, there were 211,235 ultra-wealthy individuals in 2014, a 6 percent increase from a year before. That community’s combined wealth is believed to have fallen just short of $30 trillion, a 7 percent increase from 2013.

Growth in 2014 is slightly above average in terms of longer-term trends in the ultra-wealthy community. Over the past 20 year period, the group’s population has grown at an average annual rate of 4.6 percent, with wealth growing an estimated 6.7 percent each year.

This growth trend is expected to continue at least until 2040, at which time both the size of the ultra-wealthy population and their net worth “will have approximately trebled” to more than half a million individuals worth a combined $88 trillion, according to the report. The fastest growing wealth tiers are billionaires and those the report classifies as “at the bottom” — people whose worth is $30 million to $50 million. 

…and don’t for one second think the ladies aren’t paying attention. At my health club, they’ve been thrown out of the parking lot for grabbing license plate numbers and running them on financial databases.

Coming to Terms With Aging […without visiting the “Devil’s Crossroads”]

hi-res-108017587_crop_northJohn Patrick McEnroe, Jr., 56

We all reach a point where we realize we are no longer in our physical prime.

We blame everyone – and everything – but ourselves.

Many of us live in denial until we start tripping over our delusions, one after the next, until we come to terms kicking and screaming.

John McEnroe comes to mind.

For him, life has always been a nightmare, which apparently hasn’t abated much to this very day.

Both talented and tempestuous, he bludgeoned his way to 17 Grand Slam titles before falling victim to the very angst that made him a champion, back when youth forgave most transgressions.

This is not where you want to be at middle age.

I’ve been an athlete – active in sports and weight training – for the vast majority of my life, and I’ve had my fair share of injuries. Most of them I’ve forgotten, some won’t let me.

Nonetheless, I still go to the gym and bust my ass: multiple dead-lifts, wall balls, crunches to failure – you get the picture – but my body doesn’t heal the way it used to.

My joints ache, my muscles are tighter, and there always some nagging injury.

It’s at these times that the thought starts to creep in my mind, “It’s not that I can’t do this, but should I?”

The simple answer is, I don’t know. No one does. 

My doctor runs every test in the book and declares I’m fit to be tied, but I know that he knows it’s mixed blessings.

I’m technically healthy enough to do what I do, but I also know the recovery time will be two or three times what it was back in my 20’s – and rest will not be a casual decision, but a necessity.

There are times I leave the gym thinking I’m too exhausted even to drive home, and I’m sure the I am not alone.

We all pay a heavy price to keep up with where we were, which is our first mistake because we are no longer where we were.

60 is not 20 no matter how you spin the narrative. 

This is where coming to terms with myself, my ego, and my competitive nature has been the hardest thing I’ve ever faced.

Thankfully, the school of hard knocks has finally pounded into me that as I age my self worth should not and, for the sake of sanity, cannot be tied to physical performance.

I simply cannot allow physical performance to trump inner strength.

I am only human and my youth was a fleeting stretch of life some 25 years ago, a lifetime for many pro athletes.

My advice to all of you in my age demographic [Baby Boomers] is to stay as active as your body will allow, explore new hobbies [if you don’t already have 10 or 15 like me], live a balanced life, and enjoy yourself.

While my absolute performance in certain physical endeavors may have declined with advancing years, the enjoyment of my journey, however different, is something that will never fade.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

1] Beliefs about aging are sometimes more powerful than the physical changes themselves.

2] Ignore people who say things like “Why are you doing that? You’re going to hurt yourself!” It’s just projection, so, like I said, ignore it.

3] Psychological skills are a bigger part of your training than anything else.  

4] Skills develop through practice, which is why people half your age can’t do many of the things you’ve been doing for years, so there’s an upside. 

5] Your own performance in a given sport is relative to your age. The rest you make up in attitude. 

6] Stop comparing yourself to that of 20-year-olds. Most of them won’t be even close to where you are when they grow up. 

7] Be patient with yourself…and kind. Beating up on yourself is not going to somehow reverse time.

8] Hire a personal trainer if you can afford it. Having said this, I’ve learned that it’s more expensive not having one.

9] Get plenty of rest.

10] Keep a psychotherapist and massage therapist on speed dial. 

and…

11] For God’s sake, don’t end up like John McEnroe.

10 Essential New Year’s Resolutions [You Can Actually Achieve]

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that you’re older than you used to be.

With this in mind, here are a few things you can do to improve your situation:

1] Accept the fact that media and reality are two entirely different things, even if you’re the only one buying it.

2] Understand that your sense of relevance is tied to the health of both your physical body and your financial portfolio in equal measure. 

3] Know that dating beautiful young women is a minefield, not because they’re difficult to find, but because they’re difficult to read.

4] Understand that women who embrace their own objectivity will expect you to pay for it.

5] Look at life more from the perspective of a human food chain and you’ll find love in the most unexpected places.

6] Embrace psychotherapy when you feel uncomfortable talking to anyone else, but understand that it can be as addictive as heroin, and sometimes, just as expensive.  

7] Practice mindfulness before delusion plays stand in for sanity.

8] Realize that life doesn’t care about you, so you have to figure our how to care about yourself. It still won’t care, but whatever. 

9] Accept the fact that not taking your meds is the same as committing infidelity. 

10] Worrying about not achieving your New Year’s resolutions is worse than simply not achieving them, so think carefully before committing to anything.

Now you have 10 New Year’s resolutions that will serve you better than diets and exercise by a factor of 1000.

Is Youth, In Fact, Wasted on The Young?

1251869-pink-floyd-reunions-617-409Hardly.

Does anyone actually believe that a bunch of rich and entitled Baby Boomer rock stars could create The Dark Side of the Moon?

The following is a list of 10 Boomers who followed a similar fate:

1] David Bowie

2] Mick Jagger

3] Eric Clapton

4] Robert Plant

5] Jimmy Page

6] Bob Dylan

7] Billy Joel

8] Elton John

9] Alice Cooper

10 Neil Young.

Obviously, there’s something to be said for youth and immortality, in spite of the contradiction in terms.

“Manorexia:” It’s Not Just Women

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For nearly a decade celebrity jeweler Stephen Webster, 56, pictured with Christina Aguilera, fought a private battle with anorexia [and depression].

At his lowest point, Stephen Webster, who is 5’10” tall, weighted 112 pounds.

By comparison, Mick Jagger, who is 5’10” tall, weighs 161 pounds.

I’ll let you ponder that for a moment…

~~~

Okay, now that you have that image firmly in your head, you should know that after fighting through his disorder, he is now 154 pounds.

Hardly robust, but not on a feeding tube.

So, good.

~~~

Men of my socioeconomic demographic are often found at the gym, if only because they appear to live in them.

Most are in their late 40’s to early 50’s because that’s about as far as you can push back on the aging process and still land on your feet.

By the time you hit your late 50’s, you can land on one foot, but it’s not as pretty.

Having said this, anyone who’s spent a lifetime keeping fit will tell you that at least a tinge of obsession is necessary to maintain it.

For myself, eating is usually a nightmare.

Let me phrase this another way: For myself, eating is something I have lodged firmly in my head from the moment I wake up.  

It’s not like it was back in the day when I looked forward to a breakfast of half and half over Frosted Flakes and two whole eggs over easy in actual butter, which I also applied to toasted white Sunbeam bread.

I know. Great right?

Now it’s 6 boiled egg-whites and a bowl of steel cut oats with almond butter and a banana.

If I ate the first breakfast for a week I’d die on the gym floor.

First, I need good carbs, ones that burn slowly, hence the oats.

If I ate the first one my blood sugar would spike, then crash…me along with it. And if that didn’t do me in the saturated fat would.

See, blood sugar becomes a big deal as you age, particularly for men like me who workout a lot.

While I am not diabetic, I do experience bouts of hypoglycemia when i don’t take in enough calories to carry me through an intense workout.

For more on hypoglycemia, click here: https://www.med.umich.edu/intmed/endocrinology/patients/Hypoglycemia.htm

I experienced the same thing as a young man, but now I’m more conscious of it, as I am of everything else because I feel more physically vulnerable than I did back then.

This is what I refer to as age-acquired neurosis.

So not only am I not eating anything I feel like putting in my mouth in an effort to avoid all the aforementioned problems, but I also want to keep my body fit and trim.

Now the plot is as thick as pack ice:

1] I think about when to eat so that I have the energy necessary to fuel my workouts.This alone is exhausting.

2] I carefully consider healthy food choice alternative, which is also a pain in the ass. 

3] I want to maintain a healthy appearance, which is predicated on the previous two line items. Now eating is kind of like a second job.

Back to Stephen Webster and many others like him, physical appearance can become an obsession after a while because it’s so hard to maintain.

Add an addictive personalty, ambition and vanity, and you’re completely and utterly screwed.

I know men at my gym who are on the hamster wheel, working out 3 times a day in race to beat time.

They never do.

Most of them are anorexic and in complete denial.

They eat just enough to get through their grueling workouts and them eat again to get through the next one in line.

They have no personal lives. And their interactions with others is limited to discussions about workouts and diet.

I’m sure you know a few yourself.

Pity them. They are in pain even if they don’t realize it.

Their bodies are shutting down, their lives have burned down to an ember of balance.

In this sense, they’re already dead.

If you think I’m being overly dramatic, check out Stephen Webster’s struggles for yourself:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3328368/My-10-year-battle-MANOREXIA-s-not-just-women-Celebrity-jeweller-Stephen-Webster-reveals-despite-gilded-life-tortured-fear-eating.html

OVERVIEW

I will always dance delicately near the edge in order to meet my needs without falling off the cliff.

It’s a struggle we all face as we age and want to live healthy, balanced lives.

Some turn to “youth-enhancing” drugs to help maintain their strength and low body-fat without having to severely restrict their diets, but they are killing themselves in other ways as they swap one addiction for another.

Average people have no idea what I’m talking about.

But I don’t know any of them.

10 Ways to Getg Through the Holidays Without Landing Back in Therapy

holidayStress

As everyone knows, the holidays are psychologically challenging.

Pharmacies are sold out of sedatives and liquor sales go through the roof.

Of course, children don’t know anything about this because reality is kept at arm’s length so we can live vicariously through them.

~~~

The holiday season often brings along stress and depression – to name just two [a thousand come to mind].

And no wonder.

The holidays present a ridiculous array of demands — parties, shopping, cooking, cleaning, interacting with people you haven’t seen in a long time under fragile pretenses.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress.

You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would, which is better than nothing.

According to the Mayo Clinic staff, here are 10 ways to keep stress on the low end of crazy:

1] Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief.

It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

2] Reach out If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

3] Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year.

As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well.

Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

4] Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations.

Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion.

And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry.

Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too

5] Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget.

Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts

6] Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities.

Plan your menus and then make your shopping list.

That will help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients.

And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

7] Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity.

If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time

8] Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all.

Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

9] Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.

Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm

10] Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores.

If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

According to reality as I know it, here are my top 10[not that I’m dismissing any of the aforementioned]:

1] Schedule a therapy appointment

[at least a month in advance of the holidays so you don’t have to go back for another 3].

2] Make sure your medications are up to date and readily available

[in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe, including all of them].

3] Make sure to plan for time to workout.

The stress relief will help defray the cost of refills.

4] Meditate.

What I do is stare at my hands and see if I can get my fingers to stop shaking.

5] Wear something comfortable to gatherings so you can stretch out and cross your legs when tensions run high.  

I find myself massaging my feet a lot.

6] Drink. 

Don’t get wasted, but a pleasant buzz will help pass the time as you read the liner notes on a Pink Floyd CD compendium.

7] Breathe deeply and often. 

When someone asks you what’s wrong, just tell them you like to breathe a lot. That usually does the trick.

8] Bring headphones.

I have found that headphones are a great way to break through stressful situations, even if you have to put them on during bathroom breaks.

9] Pretend to pay attention.

Even if the conversation is boring enough to trigger unconsciousness, just smile and stare into space. I know everyone’s crown molding by heart.

10] Accept the fact that your nieces and nephews are younger than you are, and will probably find a way to challenge your chronological authority. 

This is normal, particularly with males, as they attempt to bludgeon their way to the top of the human food chain.

Whatever they say, just nod and go back to staring at the crown molding.

FINAL NOTE

It is a myth that suicide rates are higher during holidays than at other times of the year.

This is because holidays maximize social connection for most people, no matter what it may look or feel like.