Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know to “unwrap” your stress:

    Kick Holiday Stress to the Curb

On your marks, get set, GO! That’s how so many of us feel now that Thanksgiving crept up on us and it’s a mad dash to the New Year. Between holiday shopping; special family and work events; as well as out-of-town visitors or traveling, it sometimes feels like a marathon with the finish line nowhere in sight.

Life is already stressful enough with long hours at work, financial constraints, and caring for our home, children and aging parents. Topping that off with the added responsibilities and commitments that are innate to the holiday season can, frankly, all too often add more stress.  And the effects of stress can be harmful to our physical and mental health, particularly in those who have chronic illness or disease. Studies have shown that stress can aggravate headaches, back pain, cancer, post-traumatic stress disease (PTSD), and immune system deficiencies, to name a few.

 Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know to “unwrap” your stress: 

1.      Create a “to-do” list. Time is our most important commodity, so let’s use it wisely. Writing down what needs to be done can keep things in perspective when we are faced with the myriad of obligations that arise. Seeing it in black and white helps us rank our priorities–“has to,” “nice to,” “does not need to” be done. Don’t stress if we do not get past what “has to” be done.

2.      Bury the hatchet. If we are warring with a family member who we will be seeing during the holidays, consider extending an olive branch beforehand to avoid an awkward episode.

3.      Stick to a budget. Creating a winter wonderland without depleting our bank account or maxing out our credit card is challenging. Create a budget and commit to it. When it comes to shopping for presents, think outside the “gift” box. The best presents are not the most expensive, but the most thoughtful.

4.      Get some rays. The cold weather can make spirits blue. Spending time outdoors or near a window on sunny days can help keep them away. Sunlight can boost our serotonin levels and improve our mood.

5.      Wake up and smell the citrus. Studies have shown that orange and lemon scents, even from essential oils, can decrease anxiety and promote a feeling of well-being. Consider lighting an aroma candle or dabbing the scent on the inside of our wrist or on a handkerchief so we can access the power of the smell throughout the day.

6.      Exercise. Don’t wait for the New Years to make this part of our “to-do” list. Start now. Not only is breaking out a sweat good for our heart and can keep those inches off of our waistline, studies have shown that it can also boost our mood for up to 12 hours.

7.      Press our Hoku point (not to be mistaken for Haiku which are short poems that use sensory language to capture a feeling or image). Hoku is located on the back of the hand, in the webbing where the thumb and index finger meet. To find the exact point, bring your thumb and index finger together. Pressing that spot for 30-60 seconds has been shown to decrease stress and tension.

8.      Take deep breaths and laugh, a lot. It is no joke that having a sense of humor can release tension. In addition to having a good time, laughing functions to enhance blood circulation and muscle relaxation.

9.      Do a tech cleanse. The constant texting, emailing, and hearing the numerous alerts on our smart phones are not only exhausting, but stressful. One study showed that 80% of people demonstrated a temporary suspension or change in their breathing when they emailed. So breathe easy and consider shutting off our gadgets at holiday get-togethers.

10.  Give a helping hand. The benefits of volunteering are several-fold. In addition to putting perspective on our circumstances, appreciating our blessings, socializing, and even learning new skills, volunteering can help protect our mental and physical health. It’s a win-win situation. And after all, that’s what the holiday season is for.

While we “Let it Snow” and “Hang Around the Mistletoe,” make sure to curb your stress and “Take a Breath of Heaven” so you can enjoy a “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Afterall, “Tis the Season to Be Jolly” while “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “The Little Drummer Boy” are around to remind us of “Silent Night” and keep us “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree.” Feliz Navidad.

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Photograph by K. Cecchini




Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.