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6 Ways to Avoid Christmas Coma

6 Ways to Avoid Christmas Coma
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The Christmas food is all gone and you sit on the couch, stomach protesting, no energy, panic rising. What was supposed to be a great holiday, a really nice time spent with your family, now feels like your own personal hell. Even though you really haven’t moved much the whole day, you feel like you could sleep for days.

What went wrong? Does it have to be like this? Christmas itself can put a lot of pressure on people, and ending up in Christmas coma definitely doesn’t help. The good news is that there are simple ways of avoiding this situation and they are easier than you might expect.

The reason you end up in Christmas coma is basically a combination of not enough movement, and too much food. D’ohh, I guess you knew that already, but simply knowing this is not enough—you still end up bloated and apathetic. The attraction of all the food and the temptation of the couch after dinner is just too powerful unless you take action to combat it.

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What you want to do is find ways to slow down your food intake, use opportunities for movement, and choose food and beverages wisely. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? You don’t have to make a lot of sacrifices, and a little bit of care will go a long way.

1. Start the day with activity

If you know you’re going to be spending a lot of the day sitting, take the chance to get some light to moderate exercise in early. If your area regularly gets snow for Christmas, shoveling it is a good exercise option: you could volunteer to help some of the neighbors shovel theirs—a guaranteed way to  increase your popularity. Another good option is to go for a walk after breakfast. Choose the activity that works best for you and fits into your schedule.

Starting the day with a little exercise wakes you up and prepares your body for the day. By getting the blood pumping a bit, your body is more prone to taking care of the food you eat later.

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2. Go for protein

Focusing on eating high-protein foods will make you feel satisfied earlier. All in all, you’ll eat fewer calories and won’t feel so bloated.

3. Drink water

Drinking water keeps you properly hydrated, whereas drinking alcohol, coffee or tea will make you lose more fluids than you take in. It’s also very easy to consume way too many calories drinking, wine, beer or soft drinks. Firstly, start the day with a large glass of water. During the day, if you don’t want to switch to water only, have a sip of water in between sips of your other drink.

4. Talk during lunch and dinner

Since we want to seize the opportunity to get closer to our family and friends, don’t pass up the opportunity to talk to them during lunch and dinner. Not only will you bond more, you will also slow down your eating, which is a good way of avoiding the post-meal drowsiness. If you slow down your food intake, your body will have time to signal to your brain when you’ve had enough before it’s too late.

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5. Don’t forget the veggies

This one is a given, and the reasons are basically the same as why you should go for protein—they will satisfy your appetite earlier. Reach for as many green and leafy options as you find on the Christmas table to give you good carbohydrates, and avoid the starchy stuff like potatoes, corn, parsnips, and pumpkin.

6. Go for a walk

A great way to interact with people more is to ask them to go for a walk with you before you park yourself on the couch. Not only will you get some exercise and fresh air while your food is digesting, you can also continue the conversation you started earlier during lunch or dinner. Who knows—maybe you solve a big global problem. You can also use  your walk as an opportunity to take some great pictures.

What’s your strategy for avoiding Christmas Coma?

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Featured photo credit:  Black and white image of pretty woman sleeping peacefully via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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