12 Holiday Stress Busters
Tis the season…for family time, celebrations, good food and friends, but also for too much to do, in too little time.
Health magazine compiled a list of 25 expert tips to help you relax and be your best self this holiday season. We have condensed them into the following:
UC psychiatrist, Judith Orloff reminds us that millions of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD.) Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin helping us to feel good and relieve SAD.
Adding a brisk 30 minute walk, especially on a sunny day, can reduce stress and also help you get a good night’s sleep. Nutrition and well-ness expert Dr. Ann Kulze, says that the “rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on the brain.”
The hormone norepinephrine, which affects our mood, helps alleviate stress and elevates our feelings of well-being is found in lemons and oranges. You can purchase essential citrus oils which are easy to carry with you during the day.
4. HAND SQUEEZE
In traditional Chinese medicine, the fleshy spot between your thumb and index finger, called the hoku spot, can reduce stress and tension in your upper body if firm pressure is applied there for 30 seconds. Add a deep breathe for added stress relief.
5. JUST SAY NO
Psychologist George Pratt reminds us, “we go overboard to please others during the holidays….Instead, take care of yourself by saying no at least once-and maybe more.” But don’t forget to say yes to those activities that bring you pleasure.
Did you know there is a World Laughter Tour, an organization that offers therapeutic laughter training?
Well, there is, and its founder, psychologist Steve Wilson, says “laughing like crazy reduces stress hormones. That in turn helps immune cells function better.”
7. FORGET PERFECTION
“Focus your energy on the people in your life” says Donna Schempp, program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance, and not on doing it all. And, remember, that those “perfect” holiday pictures in magazines, have a staff of people creating them!
8. GO TECH FREE
Ok, we know this is a hard one, especially in the Bay Area, so at least try to turn off your devices when you are with your family and friends. The constant buzzing and dinging keeps us in a constant state of fight or flight due to bursts of adrenaline. This adds to feelings of exhaustion and higher stress levels especially for women.
Spicy foods contribute to the release of endorphins-the natural chemicals that “trigger feelings of euphoria and well-being,” according to Dr. Kulze
Honey, especially dark honey, can give you an instant kick of energy. It also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Breakfast first….Dr. Joe Cilona informs us that caffeine on an empty stomach can cause blood sugar level to spike.
Listening to your favorite music can reduce anxiety, by relaxing your blood vessels and increasing blood flow, helping your heart to relax.
We can’t resist commenting that the constant playing of Christmas music in retail stores may have the opposite effect!
11. RE-EVALUATE YOUR CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
Ask yourself and your family what makes the holidays special f You may be surprised by your simple answers. We sometimes continue customs and traditions because we think we should.
Dr. Cathy Frank says, “abandoning old customs can be a good strategy if you’re lonely or grieving.”
12. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP
Try to keep sacred the amount of time you allow for sleep.
The medical sleep profession is finding it difficult to reach a consensus on making up for lost sleep.
Make sure you are treating your sleep apnea. It is important that you have your sleep retainer checked on a least a yearly basis. A tiny adjustment may be all that is needed to significantly improve your sleep.