Tis the Season to be Jolly…and…Stressed
The holidays are about relaxation, spending time with loved ones, eating good food, and just celebrating the gift of life. In a perfect world, this time of year everyone should be frolicking through life with not a worry and spreading love and joy to all! Maybe…one day. The reality is, we all have a lot to do during this time of year and over the process of trying to “accomplish it all”, we encounter stressful situations and don’t realize the effect it has on our mind and body.
Signs of Stress
Everyone’s stress related symptoms differ to some degree. So there is no rhyme or reason to it. But the most common and early signs of stress may include and not limited to, headaches, upset stomach, irritability and frustration, discontentment, fatigue, muscle tension, and/or unsettled sleep. If you choose to ignore the symptoms, they continue to build up and settle within the body thus creating a number of physical and emotional symptoms.
So what is the deadly trigger that is pulled after we experience an episode of stress to create these symptoms? It is our good ole friend, Fight-or-Flight.
When we experience stress, our body goes into fight-or-flight mode. A fight-or-flight response puts our physical body in a state of immediate and demanding physical action. When this happens, it is solely focused on preparing itself for an instant reaction to our “stress related” situation. This leaves our other important internal functions to be temporarily “put on hold” such as: digestion and absorption, cell production, body maintenance, circulation, healing, and immunological defenses.
The physiological functions that are “put on hold” are going through immense stress. Our immune system is compromised which makes us more prone to illness and disease. Our digestive health is compromised in which it has difficulty absorbing food thus resulting in poor assimilation of the necessary nutrients to enter our body. Our natural healing ability is compromised which makes it harder to recover from illness or surgery and our cell production slows down and this compromises our defense antibodies. Fatigue becomes prominent and muscle tension becomes apparent and even long after the trigger, the muscles located around the stomach, chest, lower back, neck and shoulders remain tight for some time and can result in chronic tension. In addition, our bodies tend to feel nervous, uptight, jittery, and ungrounded.
That doesn’t sound like fun or remotely healthy for you. So just imagine if you are stressed all the time. This continuing type of response is devastating to the body and overtime can create some serious illness and disease.
Effects of Stress on our Emotional and Behavioral Self
Stress is not only breaking down our physical health, but it has a great influence on how we feel about ourselves and how it impacts our behavior and our relationships. Here are some examples how stress can effect us in those two aspects:
Emotional stress creates: anxiety, agitation, lack of motivation or focus, irritability, anger, sadness, depression, forgetfulness, feeling overwhelmed, insecurity
Behavioral stress creates: over/under eating, angry outbursts, alcohol/drug abuse, social withdrawal, sleeping too much or too little, relationship conflicts, crying spells, panic attacks, avoidance/procrastination
So how can you Manage your Stress?
The first step is being aware that you are stressed and know that there are steps you need to take in order to care for your mind and body. Here are some tips to make that happen.
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a healthy diet – stay away from sugar and processed foods
- Drink lots of water
- Exercise regularly
- Breath – take a moment to do a minute of deep breathing
- Get a massage
- Get a Reiki and Crystal Therapy treatment – 🙂
- Stay positive and avoid negative self-talk – tell your mind to “shut-up”. This may be a bit extreme, but it works!
- Avoid high stress people and those who stress you out (if you can). If you can’t breath! Take a minute.
- Talk with a friend or someone you trust
- Limit your caffeine intake
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs
- Time management – manage your time and energy
- Watch a funny movie and laugh! (Try to avoid dramas and horror movies)
- Turn off your cell phone, don’t look at Facebook and take the time to enjoy some alone time.
- Make plans and go out and have fun!
- Be kind and gentle with yourself
Stress is always going to be a part of our lives. To live life with more ease and to protect your overall health, there are many steps you can take to manage it.
Enjoy your holidays, take good care of yourself, and love hard!
“Where there is love there is life.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi