We’re headed into the busiest time of year with parties, shopping, baking, crowds, entertaining, deadlines, and commitments galore! Meanwhile, we’re all still handling our everyday tasks like work, family, errands, health/fitness, and social activities. It’s a no-brainer that all these things going on in your life add up to stress, whether good or bad.
Stress can result in a natural reaction from the body where hormones get released that increase your heart and breathing rate. In short, stress helps a person cope with both good and bad situations. Although stress is a natural response, chronic stress can negatively affect your overall health.
Below, I will share a brief overview of how stress affects the body and what you can do to reduce some of this stress especially during the holiday season.
Stress can affect three major components of a person: his or her body, mood, and behavior.
Stress’ effects on the body include:
- Stomach problems
- Chest pressure/pain
- Sleep problems
- Hair loss
- Change in sex drive
- Chest pain
- Muscle tension/pain
- Memory loss
- Weight gain
- Weakened immune system
Stress’ effects on mood include:
- The feeling of being overwhelmed
- No motivation
Stress’ effects on behavior include:
- Change of eating habits (over or undereating)
- Drug or alcohol abuse and tobacco use
- Withdrawing socially
- Little to no physical activity
- Angry outbursts
During the holiday season there are many triggers that can cause you to develop any of the above symptoms. Maybe you’re worried about money, or you’re pressured to go to some social event you don’t really want to attend; whatever the reason, stress happens, and there are ways you can manage it so you don’t end up hurting your body in the long run
Some basic ways of dealing with stress include:
- Make sure you’re getting in regular physical activity
- Look to relaxation methods to help you breathe easier and clear your mind (yoga, meditation, massage).
- Socialize with loved ones
- Make time for yourself and hobbies and the things that bring you happiness.
When it comes to the holiday season, the following tips can help you reduce stress:
- Stay organized so you know exactly what you need to do and where you need to be. When you have an organized schedule and plan in place, it reduces you worrying about how you’re going to manage it all.
- Don’t commit yourself to everything. If there are parties or events you don’t want to go to, it’s OK to pass it over, especially if you’re bogged down with other commitments.
- Ask for help. There’s so much to do in the holiday season, and you can’t be expected to do it all. Ask loved ones to help you out with tasks like preparing food or wrapping gifts. You can turn a daunting task into a fun social activity.
- Set a budget. Money problems may be the biggest stressor during the holiday season. With a set budget in place, you won’t have to worry about paying things off way down the road, being late on bills, or missing payments.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
- Balance social activities with personal time.
As stated earlier, the holidays are a big trigger for stress, and can result in many of the listed side effects and health problems. By properly managing your stress during this time, you can breathe easier and enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them.
Unfortunately, stress isn’t always easy to manage. If you’ve tried the above methods and tips to control your stress and you are still experiencing bad symptoms, it might be time to see the doctor and check what’s going on. Prolonged signs and symptoms as it relates to behavior and mood effects can lead to clinical depression. Depression is a serious clinical condition which can usually be addressed and treated easily and effectively.
Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers will work with you to see if there are better ways for you to manage your stress, or if there is a more serious problem occurring. To book an appointment with Dr. Kordonowy, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200.
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