Stress and the Holidays

It just seems like yesterday that the Christmas season was here and now another season is upon us. We all know that mild stress can help us be productive, but major stress can lead to depression and a feeling of frustration. Signs of stress can include, but not be limited to, increased heart and respiratory rate, headaches, stiff neck and muscles, sweating, upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. When we are stressed, our immune system is also affected. Colds, flu and other heath issues can arise. I encourage you to incorporate some of the ideas listed below into your season to help reduce your stress level so you can enjoy your holiday time.

  1. Recognize when you may be feeling overwhelmed or depressed. There are steps that we can take to help if symptoms get you down. If you have lost someone close to you, this season will often be a very hard time. Seek help through you caregiver, priest, pastor, or rabbi.
  2. Be realistic-know that you can’t and maybe shouldn’t do everything by yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for help when you need it!
  3. If you are planning on gift giving, try to stay on a budget. Make gifts and spend time with others. These are often the best times.
  4. Make family time a priority and visit the festival of lights or window shop. Play some games from your childhood. Consider leaving the electronics unplugged to allow more time for interaction and memory making.
  5. Read to your children or grandchildren a book each night about all the holidays and customs around the world. This may be the start of a new tradition in your family. This is such a great time for bonding! If the grandchildren do not live near you, call them and read to them over the phone or via Skype.
  6. Get sleep. Being a night owl is not going to help.
  7. Exercise. We know that exercise is a great stress reliever and that it produces endorphins.
  8. Maintain a healthy diet that includes folate, omega-3 fatty acids, Inositol and L-theanine. (Spinach, broccoli, avocado, legumes, fruit, fish, algae, walnut, chia seed, and flaxseed contain these nutrients.)
  9. Take time to remember what this season is about.

Remember, we do not have to be perfect. Only God is!

Sue Lang, APN, CNM