The holiday season is often one of increased stress for many people. It is the perfect opportunity to honor friends and family with quality time and gift giving. But it also creates more stressful situations than many people face the whole prior year added together.
From seeing family members who may not be your cup of tea, to being thrust into uncomfortable social situations, to prime cold and flu season, to the pressure to pick out the perfect gift or spend more money than budgeted, the holidays can lead to very high levels of STRESS!
Stress impacts your health in many ways, especially when it is chronic – lasting long periods of time – although even short-term stress at very high levels can also be detrimental.
It is commonly know that stress can increase blood pressure, cause anxiety, and result in headaches. Not to mention, stress can lead to muscle tightness, fatigue, and feelings of overwhelm, anger, or irritability. Stress can even impact your decisions and behaviors, causing poor eating, addictions, and social withdrawal.
Physiologically, stress causes an increase in the production of cortisol, which is why cortisol is known as the stress hormone. Unfortunately, with excess cortisol comes insulin resistance, meaning that insulin is unable to remove glucose from the bloodstream at an optimal level. Additionally, cortisol directly inhibits the production of insulin, further contributing to an increase in blood glucose levels.
Cortisol also impairs the function of the immune system. People under high levels of stress are more prone to infections and chronic diseases. Add to this a decline in thyroid function, an increase in abdominal fat, and impaired memory function and you have a recipe for poor health.
So, how do you put the breaks on stress? Here are 5 tips:
1. Attend a yoga class. This will provide much needed exercise in a peaceful and tranquil environment. And if you don’t think yoga is enough exercise, then there’s a good chance you haven’t tried it yet!
2. Go to bed by 10pm. With all the stressful situations discussed above, the last thing you need is lack of sleep. If you go to bed by 10pm, your body will produce the maximum amount of human growth hormone, which is responsible for rejuvenation and repair—in other words, HEALING!
3. Stay well hydrated. Drinking plenty of water allows your body to flush out toxins, supports the function of the immune and lymphatic systems, and plays a role in optimal digestion.
4. Give yourself permission to say no. Given the demands of the holiday season, you are still in charge of whether you overload your schedule or purposefully insert downtime to rest and recover.
5. See a chiropractor. An adjustment to the nervous system can help restore balance between sympathetic fight-or-flight mode and parasympathetic resting mode, allowing your body a chance to balance those stress hormones naturally.
Bonus Tip: Use essential oils, especially lavender, to help support healthy stress levels. How about a hot epsom salt bath with 10 drops of lavender oil. Ahhhhhh!
Take your health into your own hands. Just because stress is running high, doesn’t mean you have to be on the run from stress.
Lee Ann Kalaba is a practicing Doctor of Chiropractic in Tucson, AZ. After a decade in Corporate America as a CPA, she experienced a severe injury that was the catalyst of her healing journey and put her on the chiropractic path. Now, her vision is to utilize chiropractic care and health coaching to help people improve their health so they can pursue the life of their dreams.