Holiday stress is real. It can affect your immune system, your metabolism and other important functions that maintain your health. Whether it’s party planning, gift shopping, travelling, hosting or just the tendency to over-indulge those not-so-healthy foods and beverages, the holiday season can be a stressful time. The added holiday responsibilities on top of the everyday stressors most of us already have, can really take a toll on our health if we aren’t careful.
Types of Holiday Stress
Let’s break down some of the well-known holiday stress factors:
- Physical Stress – Holiday travel and lack of proper rest and sleep are two main causes of physical stress in our patients. These factors combined with being inside more and getting less exercise contribute to physical stress. This kind of stress also weakens the immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems which can lead to major health issues down the line.
- Chemical Stress – Over-eating foods rich in fat and sugar and drinking a lot of alcohol are usually a big part of our holiday festivities. This tends to overload our system, leading to health issues such as hormonal imbalance, elevated blood sugar or increased cholesterol levels.
- Mental/Emotional Stress – Money worries, family drama, the rush to get work done in time for the holidays or to get all the holiday shopping done can cause mental stress. This typically results in elevated levels of cortisol in the system. This is the body’s natural response to mental stress, but if present for more than just a short period of time, it can cause health problems in the long run.
We see patients who experience all three types of stress from the holidays, and the effects it has on their health. Symptoms can include gastrointestinal ailments, cardiovascular problems, issues with their nervous system, musculoskeletal complaints, or compromised immunity.
How Chiropractic Treats the Effects of Holiday Stress
During our patient visits, we assess the whole person and try to get to the root cause of their symptoms and where stress is carried in their body. We make the needed chiropractic adjustments to reduce the effects of stress on their system. We also provide guidance on long-term healthy lifestyle habits and nutritional support so that stress cannot accumulate in the system. These include tips on:
- Physical Wellbeing – We recommend regular exercise, plenty of fresh air and lots of water (which also helps flush out any toxins from overindulging) – even during the holidays, if at all possible. We also suggest trying yoga, a meditation practice, aromatherapy or magnesium supplement – all of which promote relaxation and better sleep.
- Chemical Balance – While holiday treats seem to jump out at us from every corner, it is possible to reduce your sugar and fat intake with some willpower and awareness. As the saying goes ”Everything in moderation”. The point being, just try to ration the intake of fat, alcohol, and sugar if you don’t wish to pay the price later! We have written entire blogs on digestion and the importance of good nutrition which is a diet that balances healthy proteins, whole grains with fresh fruits and vegetables. A consistently good diet and nutritional supplements will fortify the system, so it’s better able to withstand a few holiday deviances.
- Say No to Worry and Drama – While we cannot completely shield ourselves from mental stress or the people or situations that cause it, we recommend that you avoid it as much as possible. Here is also an opportunity to control how you respond. Next time there is a situation that causes mental distress, consider taking a few deep breaths before reacting. Just pausing and breathing helps calm us down, reduces stress hormones and brings down the heart rate.
Enjoy the festivities without them taking too much of a toll on your overall physical and emotional health. Following these basic tips should help you prepare for and better manage any holiday stress that may come your way.