How to Avoid the Perils of Holiday Stress

October 31,2016

As the holidays are approaching, now is the best time to set a resolution. Since most people wait for News Years to do so, think about the head start you'll have if you choose yours now. Plus, it will take far less effort to avoid the weight gain than it does to lose the weight in a couple of months. But, before you cry Bah Humbug, you don't have to hide in a cave to avoid Thanksgiving dinner or seasonal Christmas parties. You will need to dedicate your efforts, however, to enjoying every minute of this year's holiday season.

Yes, holidays can be stressful. However, if you manage your attitude throughout the festive season, you can avoid the typical emotional roller coaster that causes your brain to release an abundance of cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone (often called the stress hormone) that serves as your body's natural alarm system. It alters many of the body's activities to deal with an immediate threat. As a normal response, this is a self-limiting affect. Once the threat subsides, the body resumes its normal activities.

Don't Be a Victim of Self-Promoted Stress

So what does this have to do with your holidays? A long-term activation of your stress-response system can lead to an overexposure of hormones like cortisol, which can disrupt almost all of your body's processes and increase your risk of:

  • Unwanted Weight Gain
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Digestive Problems
  • Impaired Mental Function
  • Anxiety and Depression

If that sounds like your holidays, it is important that you learn ways to limit self exposure. As silly as it may seem, forget about whether everyone wants to eat turkey and stop trying to find that perfect holiday gift. After all, it is a choice that you make when you turn a minor hassle into a major threat. Making ends meet or presenting an important proposal at work is a legitimate reason for feeling temporary stress. Worrying about whether Uncle Fred likes the tie you bought him or doesn't care for the turkey dressing you served, is not.

You undoubtedly have to face stressful situations every day. Thankfully, your body is well equipped to release stress hormones to help you deal with these acute instances. However, self-initiated chronic stress triggered by the holidays can put your health at risk and wreak havoc on your body and mind. Since your brain's alarm can be impacted by hidden medical conditions, it is prudent to schedule a seasonal exam to discuss with a doctor the effective ways for managing the stressors in your life. After all, the holidays should be enjoyed... and you'll be months ahead on your New Year's resolution.