Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Let's face it- the Holidays can be stressful. Between the gift buying, events, holiday meals, family gatherings, and extra sweets, we are experiencing both mental and physical stress. This has a MAJOR impact on our health and wellness.
Here’s What Happens in Your Body…
When you encounter a perceived threat- overspending, running late to your kids holiday program, spilling coffee on your brand new white sweater, or a large dog barks at you on your morning stroll- an alarm system gets set off in your body- aka "fight or flight response". This alarm bell sends signals to your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones- specifically cortisol and adrenaline.
This sets off a domino effect that impacts your physical and emotional health, for no reason- especially since you're not in fact, faced with a life-threatening situation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation, and fear."
And if this stress response is activated long term? The excess cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all of your body's processes.
You may find yourself experiencing:
Memory and concentration impairment
Plus much more.
Luckily, we can do many things to help create more resilience, change our perception of stressors and engage in a more relaxed state. We can do this through calming activities, such as yoga and meditation. This works by engaging our parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for "rest and digest". It slows down the body and mind and puts us in a calm and relaxed state, reducing stress hormones in our bloodstream.
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And let's be honest, many of us find ourselves stressed out, even when it's not Holiday season. Finances, relationships, career, home environment, poor diet, and an unhealthy lifestyle are all sources of stress we face every day. That is why it is more important than ever to implement easy ways to incorporate more stress relieving and self-care activities.
Some examples include:
Getting enough Sleep
Deep breathing exercises using yoga and meditation
Going for a walk in nature
Speaking kindly to yourself
Focusing on the positive
Enjoying a warm bath
Listening to music
So be sure to find time this Holiday Season for self-care.
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