In Part 1 of this blog series on how to avoid Holiday Stress, we discussed how prevalent and harmful this situation has become for many, and some ways to relieve that stress in order to avoid the negative effects on our bodies.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related and eighty percent of serious illnesses may be exacerbated or linked to stress. Stress-related complications and symptoms can range from weight gain, insomnia, skin problems and hair loss, to headaches, memory loss, poor digestion, high blood pressure, and back/body pain. Prolonged exposure to stress and anxiety can even lead to other more severe conditions such as heart disease, stroke and seizures. This is not the way most people want to spend their Holiday Season.
Here are four more, easy-to-implement tips to stay healthy and happy through the holidays while avoiding the dreaded stress monster.
5. Let Go
“Sometimes in order to not fall apart you have to let go of what keeps you together.”
This is probably the most effective way on this list to remove harmful stress and anxiety from your holiday plans, and yet, probably the hardest to accomplish for most people. For some it may be letting go of stressful feelings about relatives, while for others it may be letting go of expectations that the Christmas party you’re hosting has to be completely perfect. Often plans will go awry but letting go of the associated stress can make all the difference in how you feel about the outcome. Scale back expectations and enjoy the festivities a little more and you’ll find yourself feeling better physically and in a better mood. Just because you can’t afford that expensive gift that you wanted to buy a loved one, don’t let it ruin your holidays. Let go of guilt and, when needed, do less to enjoy the holidays more.
“We go overboard to please others during the holidays: shopping, cooking, sending cards, and attending every event,” says George Pratt, PhD, a psychologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in California. “Instead, take care of yourself by saying no at least once—and maybe more.”
6. Avoid Overeating
“Often when a person can’t get past stress, she will turn to overeating, drinking or smoking, which can become a greater problem than the stress itself.”
With all the parties, cooking, and eating, many waistlines expand during the holiday season and many take this for granted. But, as a new study found, the reason why most of us overindulge at this particular time may not be so much the countless opportunities for extra munching but rather the need for extra comfort due to heightened stress. Which then in turn leads to more stress about added weight, continuing a vicious circle. Avoid this downward spiral by watching your eating habits closely during the holidays and avoid high fat, high sugar food items when possible.
7. Holiday Cheer
“The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.”
-Norman Vincent Peale
Another really important and seemingly obvious, but all-too-often overlooked way to relieve stress is but just being happy and staying positive. Of course it’s easy to say when you’re not in the thick of the holiday bustle, but one of the best ways to maintain a positive mindset is to simply smile. It makes you attractive. It changes your mood. It relieves stress. And it helps you stay positive.
Affirmations may also be used to readjust your negative mindset and manifest a more positive state of mind. For example:
“I am in a joyful state of relaxation free from all stress with a calm mind and relaxed attitude.”
8. Ask For Help
“When you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream.”
Often, when we are faced with our most hectic or unbearable moments, we shut down, and become withdrawn and isolated. We may be embarrassed about the source of our stress, or feel it is too tiresome to discuss with anyone. After all, they have their own problems, right? Most commonly, stress sufferers are afraid that reaching out or admitting they need help will make them appear weak and out of control of their life.
Periods of intense anxiety in our lives can strain our ability to think clearly and make sound judgments, so it’s no wonder stress can cause people to become withdrawn. But alienating friends and family will only compound feelings of helplessness as we become even more isolated and alone. Consulting a professional, like a therapist or a counselor, or a friend, family member, spiritual advisor or a support group, can make all the difference in taking control of the stress and managing it properly.
At Sagewood Wellness Center, I provide relief from stress-related symptoms through targeted holistic methods such as Neuromuscular Therapy, Trigger Point Therapy and Deep Tissue Massage. I also provide more detailed assistance in managing stress by coaching clients on self-care approaches such as mindfulness meditation, affirmations, and a simple technique called Natural Bio-Destressing, which calms anxiety and engages the relaxation response.
Lastly, we must realize that not all furious movement is progress. When anxiety, tension and chaos surround you, pause for a moment to just relax. Remember – The best time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. The holidays can, and will, get the better of you if you don’t take time to reset once in awhile and develop some tools like these to counter the harmful effects of stress.
Have a balanced Day! ~Maria
About The Author
Maria Martos is the Executive Director and Founder of the Cancer Support and Education Program, and has been owner of Sagewood Wellness Center for 20 years. As a Certified Neuromuscular Therapist, Maria specializes in the treatment of severe, chronic or minor pain, as well as injury rehabilitation and prevention. She holds a certification in Sports Massage providing her with expertise to evaluate and address athletic injuries and to help professional and recreational athletes improve their athletic performance. Maria is also Board Certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. She holds a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, and offers Holistic Counseling, focusing on Integrative Mind-Body Therapy to help individuals uncover and remove unconscious blocks that limit them from living their best lives. She is also a Reiki Master and Teacher, and has worked in the health care field for over 25 years. Her passion and life’s calling is to help others not just survive, but thrive in the face of challenges.