Facing the Holidays

Few of us can escape the holiday season without feeling a bit worried, anxious, or stressed. The demands to perform perfectly and deliver exceptionally can be overwhelming.

What’s interesting is that according to Dr. Stephen Ruppenthal, the top five stress triggers are finances, health, family, weather, and loneliness.  All of these experiences are snowballed into the next  two months as we approach Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.

Whether we realize it or not, stress not only complicates life, but it has a far greater effect on your health as well. Feeling stressed out instantly releases a cascade of hormones throughout the body. One of them being cortisol, which causes you to over eat and store excess energy as fat rather than expend it. Those same hormones also lower your immune response against disease.

For decades, stress management wasn’t part of most health practitioners toolkit because its effects were thought to be mostly psychological.  That’s beginning to change. Recent studies show that even negative emotions (like stress) are a precursor to cardiovascular dysfunction and disease. Are we writing our own prescription for poor health?

 

Stop Stress in its Tracks

When stress is at its peak, it can be difficult to stop and regroup. So what do you do? Lock the front doors and eat turkey in the dark?  Certainly not.

The best way to handle stressful situations is to prepare yourself in advance. There are plenty of resources that talk about ways to reduce stress but you can’t always say “no” to grandma and you can’t escape to meditate in the middle of a holiday dinner either. Perhaps the best way to manage holiday stress is to simply understand the temporary nature of it all.

Below are three practical ways you can pause and try to understand the circumstance – while keeping stress hormones in check.

1. Look Ahead into the Future

When you are overwhelmed  by the day look into the future. Three, six, nine months from now ask yourself will it really matter?

2. Take a Wider View

Are you seeing the entire picture? Try to not have a narrow mind when there is a room full of people with different backgrounds and stories. In a conversation that is polarizing try to understand each other rather than proving points.

3. Change Perspective

Walk into the next two months knowing the real meaning of the holidays. Be thankful for the small pleasures in life.  Celebrate generously by giving more of your time than your money. Appreciate the peace when you find it, even in the small moments.

 

Words of Wisdom

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” ― Thomas Merton

Tomas Merton said it perfectly. Lead with love this holiday season and try to see things from a larger, healthier perspective.

What ways have you found to manage the stressful season ahead? Feel free to share your success stories in keeping your health and relationships at their best this busy time of year by leaving a comment below.

About Hannah

Hannah Willette is a mother of two who loves to feed her family nutritious, whole food. Her love of cooking and organic gardening led her to create an online collection of deliciously simple recipes at www.thewholekitchen.com. If she is not in the kitchen, you can find her enjoying the outdoors with her family.