OK guys, I actually had an entirely different blog post written and ready to post, then I met someone who changed my mind. So I decided to write this post instead.
This week is Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. These dates are for us to celebrate a belief. Most of us would agree these are supposed to be happy days. Days to be with family and friends. Days to not work. Days to settle down and enjoy the festivities around us. During the prep for these celebratory dates, the hustle and bustle of preparing makes us stressed, tired, ill, and ultimately unable to enjoy the family and friends you are supposed to be spending time with. Some of these people you may not have seen in days, months or even years. Some people you will meet for the first time.
There are some of us that will not be able to be with our family or friends. Why? Some people are unable to travel, others have suffered loss(s). This makes it difficult to “enjoy” all of the festivities around us. As we focus on the ones we cannot be with and the sadness that entertains our thoughts, we lose the full effect of the interaction with the ones we can be with.
So, this person that I was talking about in the first paragraph, she and I were talking about the crazy shopping experience we had been involved in that day. We were both commenting on how “crazy” everything and everyone was. People forget about the meaning of this week(as I noted above). Instead, there is fighting over objects in the stores, road rage, upset with the long lines, madness due to long waits in restaurants. I actually had a lady bump me with her shopping cart because I did not move up in line fast enough. What do these actions do to our health?
Lets think this through, the holiday season starts in November which means this type of stress, on top of our normal daily stress, will cause your body to be in constant “fight or flight” mode, known to some as an acute stress response. This occurs when your body and mind are on overdrive, ready to protect itself, either “fight” the stressor or “flight”(run) away from the stressor. So we fight! This means your heart rate will be elevated, your blood pressure will be up, your breathing will be faster. Your hormone levels will increase, you will get more headaches, fatigue, chest pain, increased COPD and asthma symptoms, and a generalized inflammatory response in your body( now do you understand where the diarrhea is coming from?). It takes at least 30 min for the body to settle down, in some cases as long as 60 minutes. The Fight or Flight response is very important in a dangerous situation, it allows us to handle the situation at hand. But, when our bodies are under this type of stress for weeks, months and even years, the body gets fatigued and you become chronically ill.
We need to protect our body and mind from this form of abuse. Constant stress and anxiety will hurt us. So in terms of the holiday stress we are all facing at this moment, please sit back and try to relax and enjoy who you have around you, who you can see, feel and smell. Some people do not have that luxury. Fighting with others over things that can not be stopped will not help your mind but will hurt it. This type of stress will also hurt your relationships and work productivity.
Ways to de-stress:
meditation– there are free apps on your phone for guided meditation. Learn how to be silent and settle your thoughts, in turn slowing your heart rate and blood pressure. Ultimately decreasing generalized inflammation. (I am still working in this one)
relaxation sounds: Again there are apps on your phone for this. soothing sounds of water, rain, wind, birds. You get to choose the sound that works for you.
exercise: Not to the extreme! But, exercise is known to decrease the elevated stress hormones in our body known as cortisol. It also stimulates endorphins, the feel good hormones, ultimately this will help settle us down.
rest: who said you can’t take a nap. Some people need to shut the mind down for 15-20 minutes. They will awaken feeling fresh. Others, just need to go to a quiet place alone to rest their mind.
reading: How else can you get away from what it is you are dealing with other than reading a great novel. Allow your mind to go into the setting of that novel you are reading. Enjoy the thoughts in your mind(even if it is Fifty Shades of Grey-hey noone else knows what your thinking about unless you tell them;) ). This will make it so you are not thinking about your current stressors.
fun interactions: play with your kiddos, game night with the family, hang out with friends(do not talk about work!), see a movie, vacation.
Take a warm bath: chillin time. The warm water will detoxify your mind and body. 20 minutes in a warm bath with candles and essential oils will do you and everyone around you some good
Listen to music: calming music works like reading will, you can listen to the sounds and envision a calm environment around you. Dance to the music, this acts the same as exercise
go for a walk: get out in the fresh air. This too will settle your mind and soul. 20-30 minutes will increase those endorphins I was talking about which will decrease stress and help you feel energized and happy. This also help decrease depression.
My final thoughts on stress at the holiday time is, when you are faced with a “stressful” situation stop and think before you react. Your reaction may hurt you and others around you. When you stop and think first, your reaction may just help make someone elses day. Remember you don’t know what the other person has going on in their life either.
Enjoy your family and friends, make happy memories, enjoy the special treats that remind you of your childhood or a loved one (snickerdoodles). These actions will allow you to relax and be happy, therefore healthier!
Happy Holidays! I wish you the best. I hope you have a happy, healthy and safe new year!!