5 Tips To Fight Off The Holiday Stress
By Eric Seegers
We are coming up to that time of year again, time for giving, the time for sharing, a time to be festive surrounded by family and friends. The holiday season is the time to enjoy good company, good food and celebrate in a relaxed environment.
I think that it is safe to say that the lead into the Christmas season is actually quite stressful. I remember coming across an article which shared a global statistic, stating that this time of the year saw an increase in fights, arguments and stress between family members compared to any other time of the year. So why is the holiday season so stressful? And how does all this stress, anxiety and emotion affect my health and wellbeing?
Let us take a look at what stress is and define it. Or can we? Hans Selye in 1936, defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. When asked he also said – “everybody knows what stress is, but nobody really knows”. Not to confuse you or anything, however, in short, “Stress” cannot be clearly defined because it means different things to different people. What we do know, is that when a person goes past the healthy point of stress, the body increases its production of cortisol.
Cortisol is a type of hormone produced by the body. It’s sometimes called the “stress” hormone since people produce greater levels of it when under significant stress, especially during a “fight or flight” reaction. There are some benefits of cortisol release in the body, like reduction of inflammation in the body. However, there are also some unhelpful things that are associated to increased levels of cortisol such as weight gain, reduces immune response, and raises blood pressure amongst other things.
Going back to my early question,” Why is the holiday season so stressful? And how does all this stress, anxiety and emotion affect my movement, health and wellbeing.”
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that may increase stress and some strategies we can take to make sure we all enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
1. Over working – Leading up to the holidays, many of us have to work hard with looming year end reports and deadlines. More work can lead to less sleep, less exercise and less healthy eating habits which can exacerbate stress.
2. Holiday Traffic – need I say much more? We spend so much time sitting in traffic wasting precious time. Getting around to complete your Christmas shopping for family, friends and coworkers could feel like a nightmare during this time.
3. Holiday Drama – Getting people together can also be accompanied by unnecessary drama.
4. Overindulging – “I’m so full, that I can’t breathe”. Have you ever said that before? I know I have! Excessive food and drink, including lots of unhealthy ones with high amounts of sugar, fat and salt are everywhere which can lead to over eating, weight gain heartburn, remorse, regret and then more eating and drinking.
Plan, Analyze and Prioritize.
Create a checklist of “must do” and “can wait” items and give yourself ample amount of time from planning to completion. There are certain things that you must be able to accomplish. And there are things that can wait. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The key here is to plan ahead.
Explore online shopping.
There are so many great deals that you can get online. And the best thing is, it is just a few clicks away, delivered straight to your door (in most cases)! This gives you more time for important things, like EXERCISE! Or if you really need to leave the house, walk. Gives you a great workout, plus you get your shopping done without having to park! Lastly, plan ahead. Waaaaaay ahead!
Related: Visit the Pinoy Fitness Online Shop!
Avoid drama queens – and kings.
There are times that we cannot avoid inviting or gathering with people that may cause unnecessary drama. Meaningful social connections can help you protect against stress. Avoid people who are not genuinely interested in connecting with you. A good way is to deflect attention to something else. Create fun activities that get people together and moving. Think of and share positive thoughts with each other and, if worse comes to worst, you can always agree to disagree. That is the beauty of the human mind, we don’t all have to be the same.
As Filipinos, we are all about Noche Buena and the preparation that goes into cooking a beautiful tasty meal. Help yourself by preparing delicious healthy choices. It’s okay to have a taste. Just don’t eat the entire cake for yourself! Also, to help with portion sizes, use a smaller plate and eat slowly. The brain doesn’t immediately register that the stomach is full, which could lead to overeating if you eat too quickly.
Move, sleep, take a break.
One of the best things that you can do is to keep moving. Maintain your regular exercise habits and hobbies. If your local gym is closed or you don’t have the time to get there, you can do some fantastic bodyweight workouts in about 20-30 minutes. If you are unsure what to do, download a fitness app like CustomFit to help you out.
Get enough sleep to recharge and help handle stress. Also, take time out during the day to take breaks.
At the end of the day, let us remember that Christmas time is one of the most enjoyable times of the year. Share the happiness and blessing with the people that matter the most.
With these few tips and strategies, I hope the lead into 2017 doesn’t have to begin with “I will get fit and lose weight in 2017” because you were able to plan right and plan smart without much stress and anxiety that your New Year’s resolution be something that can make an impact not only to yourself but to others as well.
Wishing you all a meaningful, fit, and active Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.