Experiencing Added Stress During the Holidays?

Holiday StressAs the holidays approach, some of us experience added stress while we prepare for the upcoming travel and finalize arrangements to celebrate the season with our family and friends!  In an interesting National Institutes of Health article titled, “Feeling Stressed? Stress Relief Might Help Your Health”, Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a leading stress researcher at Ohio State University, offers insightful information related to stress and chronic stress experienced by many of us at some point of our daily lives.  She provides helpful suggestions to differentiate “healthy stress” from “chronic stress” and Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser shares ideas for coping with these feelings, which can prove to be harmful to us when not correctly identified and managed.

As stated in the article:

“Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress can give you a rush of energy when it’s needed most—for instance, competing in sports, working on an important project, or facing a dangerous situation. The hormones and other chemicals released when under stress prepare you for action. You breathe faster, your heartbeat quickens, blood sugar rises to give you energy, and your brain uses more oxygen as it shifts into high alert.

But if stress lasts a long time—a condition known as chronic stress—those “high-alert” changes become harmful rather than helpful. “Stress clearly promotes higher levels of inflammation, which is thought to contribute to many diseases of aging. Inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, frailty, and functional decline,” says Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a leading stress researcher at Ohio State University. She and other researchers have found that stress affects the body’s immune system, which then weakens your response to vaccines and impairs wound healing.

Research has linked chronic stress to digestive disorders, urinary problems, headaches, sleep difficulties, depression, and anxiety.”

There are suggested “Wise Choices” to help us cope and alleviate the stresses we are experiencing.

To Reduce Stress:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Build a social support network.
  • Set priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait. Say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
  • Think positive. Note what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, not what you’ve failed to do.
  • Try relaxation methods. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or tai chi may help.
  • Seek help. Talk to a mental health professional if you feel unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or use drugs or alcohol to cope.

Remember, this is the season to enjoy and cherish time with your friends and family … so, take a deep breath, relax a minute, and destress by enlisting some of the helpful suggestions provided in this article!  Enjoy your holidays with loved ones and take the time to appreciate this seasonal time with those around you who mean so much!