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Happy Holidays!

Dear Friends,

   Happy Holidays! Tis the season…for family time, celebrations, good food and friends, but also for too much to do in too little time.

         Last year, Health magazine compiled a list of expert tips to help you relax and be your best self during the holiday season. It was such an informative list, that I felt it was worth sharing again.

 

1. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP

There is a reason that this is number one. A good night’s sleep is the best way to combat stress and anxiety this holiday season. Try to keep sacred the amount of time you allow for sleep.

 

2. SUNLIGHT

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 the symptoms of SAD. Try to get out and get some rays!

 

3. WALKING

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 wellness expert Dr. Ann Kulze, says that the, “rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on the brain.”

 

4. CITRUS

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.

 

5. 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.  Apply firm pressure there for 30 seconds and add a deep breath for added stress relief.

 

6. 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.

 

7. LAUGH

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.”

 

8. FORGET PERFECTION

“Focus your energy on the people in your life and not on doing it all” says Donna Schempp, Program Director for the Family Caregiver Alliance. And, remember, that those “perfect” holiday pictures in magazines have a staff of people creating them!

 

9. 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 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.

 

10. FOODS

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.

Remember to eat breakfast before coffee. Dr. Joe Cilona informs us that caffeine on an empty stomach can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

 

11. MUSIC

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!

 

12. RE-EVALUATE YOUR CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Ask yourself and your family what makes the holidays special. You may be surprised by the simple answers you receive. We sometimes continue customs and traditions because we think we should.

 

I truly am grateful for you sharing your lives with me, and wish you a Joyful and Stress-Free Holiday Season!

 

All the best,

Dr. Hilton

 

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