Stressed out during the holidays? It’s no wonder with all of the shopping, crowds, parties, cooking, decorating, etc. and unfortunately, even though we are just trying to bring some good tidings, all of the stress of it can affect your health. The symptoms of tension can include headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, stomach upset, sleep problems, to name just a few. No one wants to be slowed down this time of year, so what we need is are some ways to keep up the seasonal cheer. Here is a holiday stress cheat sheet with some helpful suggestions.
Lift Your Mood with Sunlight
It stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Be sure spend time outdoors or near a window on sunny days.
Sniff Some Citrus
Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.
Walk Away Your Worries
“The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep,” says nutrition-and-wellness expert Ann Kulze, MD. A brisk, half-hour walk every day is a good goal.
Forget About Perfection
Don’t obsess over doing it all! It’s not the end of the world if the house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. “Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life,” says Donna Schempp, the program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance. Don’t sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable!
Consider New Traditions
If you’re lonely or grieving, abandoning old customs can be a good strategy, suggests Cathy Frank, MD, medical director of the Henry Ford Behavioral Health Outpatient Center. Experiment with a different culture’s customs, volunteer at a shelter or invite isolated colleagues over and start some new traditions.
Ask For Help the Smart Way
There’s nothing saying that you have do it all yourself. Ask individually instead of emailing groups of colleagues, relatives, or friends. In mass requests, recipients assume they don’t need to volunteer to help because someone else will do it.
Ditch the Technology
Cell phone buzzing and email alerts constantly coming in? This can put us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline. Not only is this exhausting, but it contributes to mounting stress levels, especially in women. What better time to go tech-free than during a holiday get-together? Enjoy spending time with your family and friends without all of the worry.
Heat Things Up with a Spicy Meal
Hot foods trigger the release of endorphins—the natural chemicals that trigger feelings of euphoria and well-being, Dr. Kulze says.
Enjoy Some Honey
Not only will you get an instant kick and energy for the long haul, research also shows that its antioxidant and antibacterial properties may improve your immunity. Tip: The darker the honey, the more powerful the antioxidant punch.
Breakfast Before Your Coffee
Caffeine on an empty stomach can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can cause attention problems and irritability, says New York City–based clinical psychologist Joe Cilona, PsyD.
Crank Up the Tunes
Feeling anxious? Listen to some of your favorite music, whether it’s seasonal or the latest chart topper. Research from the University of Maryland shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. That not only calms you down but is good for your heart, too.
Tango with a Mango
Craving something sweet? Ditch the holiday cookies and try a delicious mango pie instead. Research from Japan shows that the sweet, tangy scent of mangoes—whether they’re fresh or jarred—may alter your blood chemistry and send a wave of calm over your body.
Make Time for Exercise
I know it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re stressed out, but fitting in a workout or a run can actually make you feel better. Research has found that exercise can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.
Avoid Over Scheduling
If your holiday agenda has you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, don’t over schedule your time or take on more than you can manage. Remember: It’s OK to slow down a bit and get in some “me” time.
Take a Real Vacation
Taking at least four or five days off work can dramatically lowers your stress level. If you have kids and choose a staycation during the holidays, take turns with your partner doing kid-duty—or send them off to their own vacation at grandma’s.
The holidays may drive you nuttier than a fruitcake, but don’t focus on the bad. Negative thinking can trigger your body’s stress response, just as a real threat does. Remember, it’s time to celebrate with your family and friends (even if they do stress you out!). An optimistic outlook will help you cope and help you to just enjoy yourself.
List courtesy in part by health.com
The Total Nutrition Technology family wishes you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!
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