‘Tis the season to be grumpy, fa la la la la! In an attempt to avoid the mad crush of holiday shoppers, I got most of mine done before Thanksgiving. Short on time, I did my best to remain calm and patient as I navigated around the pokers, prodders and pickers to complete my list. I also deliberately avoided Black Friday. Envisioning hordes of shopping ninja warriors slashing their way towards the best bargains just sounds too scary. In our household, we prefer to talk a calmer, gentler approach to the season. Perhaps the following tips will help you keep your jolly on!
You’ve heard the expression, “stress kills” and it actually can because of the toll it takes on your body. How many people do you know (and are you included in the mix?) who stress themselves sick over the six weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas? Most of the stress wounds in our lives are self-inflicted. We create unhealthy expectations, we overload our schedules and overtask ourselves to the breaking point. Here are some warning signs that you’re stressing:
- Digestive problems
- High blood pressure
- Mood swings
There are two types of stress, acute and chronic. Acute stress may occur when you pull into the mall parking lot on Christmas eve. It’s your “fight-or-flight” response. Typically fleeting, it does force your body to fire off a host of stress hormones. The most unwelcome stress guest is chronic stress. This culprit doesn’t allow the body to calm so stress hormones remain elevated resulting in dangerous long term damage.
- Releases cortisol & adrenalin — Stress hormones that decrease reaction time and boost strength
- Blood pressure rises
- Heart rate increases
- Body rapidly calms after the event
- Body produces higher amounts of stress hormones
- Long term exposure to these hormones affects the heart
- Increases risk of heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm & stroke
- Weakens the immune system
- Increases risk of osteoporosis, inflammatory arthritis, type 2 diabetes & certain cancers
At this point, the thought of actually dealing with your stress may be stressing you out even more. Not to worry. Here are some simple steps to create a stress-free holiday season:
- Unplug — last month we unplugged from the 24/7 news cycle and have remained blissfully uninformed ever since. Try turning off the television, radio and internet feeds of local, national and international news — too much information overloads and overwhelms. Instead, enjoy festive music in your car, on your ipod and at home. Watch corny holiday movies that tickle your funny bone and tug at your heartstrings. It’s okay not to be inundated with negative messages at least for a little while — who knows, you may find out that you’re better off without all of that clutter and noise after all!
- Decorate — pine bows and fir trees give off a pleasant scent which helps stimulate the mind and calms the body. If you’re not into the green, try scented oils, well-placed lights and other soothing aromas like cinnamon and vanilla to calm you down and warm you up.
- Just say No! — to holiday commitments. Trying to be all things to all people can turn you into a Christmas grinch. Select a few events that you and your family enjoy and politely turn down the rest. You may even consider getting together with friends after the holidays when the pressure is off.
- Stay on Track — be sure that the most important calendar appointments you keep are your workout and healthy eating schedules. Exercise is a great stress buster so it needs to be front and center this season. It produces a natural relaxation response which reduces cortisol levels. It can also help elevate your mood and reduce depression.
- Key in on Nutrients — proper nutrition plays a key role in reducing stress hormones and keeping you in balance. Fiber is a great stress reliever. Since stress slows digestion which keeps the body from absorbing important nutrients, fiber rich vegetables and whole grains help level out blood sugar, improve digestion and increase regularity. A balanced diet rich in vitamin C, magnesium and B vitamins also helps ease stress. In my next article I’ll cover those in more detail so stay tuned! Maintain your healthy eating habits now so you can breeze through the holidays and enjoy an occasional treat without busting your waistline…and you may even get a head-start on your New Year’s Resolution.
Celebrating the season is just that, a celebration. See how many to-do’s you can eliminate from your list so you can rekindle the joy and peace that this season brings. I hope to spend this Christmas with my nephew and the rest of my family again this year. There is no better way to remember the magic of the season than to see it through the eyes of a wonder-filled eight year old. I challenge you to do the same, no matter where you are and no matter what your plans, find a piece of the magic for yourself and then share it with others. There is no greater stress buster than a simple act of kindness — it’s free, you don’t have to wait in line to get it and no wrapping paper required.
“Sing we joyous, all together, Fa la la la la la la la la.” — Deck the Halls
De-Stressing Solutions: Go to www.My24kVIP.com vip code: gold to enjoy great holiday discounts on 24KTM (no caffeine, no sugar, healthy energy/focus shot) and access an entire line of stress-busting blends. The 24K ingredients that zero in on stress include B vitamins, Gama Aminobutryric Acid (GABA), L-theanine and valerian root, among others.
Copyright © 2012 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.