With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I thought now as a good time to talk about stress. Sure, the holidays are wonderful: you can reconnect with family and friends, sharing old memories and making new ones. But, let's face it--they can also be stressful. There are worries about sticking to your diet, thanks to all the fabulous holiday dishes we share at our gatherings. There are worries about hosting parties; worries about buying gifts and extending yourself financially. Sometimes, there are worries and stress for which we can't even pinpoint a cause. If you fall into any of these categories, know this: you are not alone. Holiday related stress--or, worse, depression--is not uncommon. The key to coping is to understand what's happening to you, and to share with loved ones or professionals so you can get the help you need. Before I share some other coping strategies with you, I'd like to help you understand what stress is and what happens to your body during stressful times.
Breaking Down Stress
Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life. A small amount of stress can be good, motivating you to perform well. But experiencing too many challenges on a daily basis (chronic stress) can lead to a situation where your health is threatened.
Stress management is a true necessity in today’s hectic world. First, it’s important to figure out what gets you stressed: running late? Carpool lines? Your demanding boss?
Next, think about some coping strategies, starting with things you can control. For example, if stress keeps you up at night, the solution may be as easy as banning screens from your bedroom so you can slowly get into the sleeping mindset as you unwind from a long day.
When it comes to things you can’t always control, like the holidays, you just have to change your reaction. Don't feel like you have to go it alone. Seek help from family and friends who may be able to lighten other parts of your load.
Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps you manage stress. Eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Make a conscious effort to spend more time doing what makes you feel relaxed.
Stress is here to stay—that’s just a fact of modern life—so that means stress management needs to be ongoing. By paying attention to what gets you stressed and actively working to fight those feelings, you can counter some of the bad effects of stress and increase your ability to cope with challenges.
Mindfulness and Holiday Stress
Even with all these helpful hacks, I know you may be facing some tough moments in between the upcoming periods of holiday joy. I beg you not to hurt alone. If you are stressed or in pain, reach out and talk to someone. Anyone. It can always get better. Wishing all my friends, readers and patients a physically and mentally healthful holiday period!