McLean, Virginia – All of us feel “stressed out” at one time or another. The problem is it can have a huge impact on our emotions and even our physical health. With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, millions of people are hurrying to get shopping done, presents mailed and menus planned. Santa’s “To-Do List” couldn’t be longer. From lack of sleep to the emotional overload of extended visits with family, the stressful onslaught of the holidays really can take its toll on the mind, body and soul. But you don’t have to let stress get the best of you, now is the time to plan your course of action.
“Stress is the way our body automatically responds to difficult situations. You may feel nervous, irritable and depressed; experience increased aches and pains; or you may just not feel like yourself,” says Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, located in McLean, Virginia. “There are many ways that stress can impact your health. It is very important, especially at this time of the year, for folks to try to take it easy, and if you get stressed, to seek relief.”
The good news is that there are things you can do to beat that holiday stress. Remember these five tips for relieving stress, now and throughout the year:
1. Do less. While it is the season when people tend to want to go overboard doing for others, you should back away from that impulse. Say “yes” too often, and you may get overwhelmed. Simply tell some people “no,” and share the load by delegating where possible.
2. Live simply. While you may be bombarded by ads to Buy! Buy! Buy! you can choose not to participate and add that stress to your holiday season. Skip the shopping, opt for a few homemade gifts, and spend quality time with those you love. And your credit cards will thank you come January!
3. Slow down. Maintaining your normal routine as much as possible during the holidays can help to ease stress. We are creatures of habit and when our routine is off we feel the sting. Find a good book, and read in bed.
4. Find outlets. (And we don’t mean shopping outlets!) Everyone needs healthy outlets or ways of discharging pent-up emotional and physical tension. Consider calling a friend to vent, journaling about your feelings, taking an exercise class, or enjoying a long bubble bath.
5. Take care. It is especially important during stressful times to take good care of your body. During this holiday season, make wise nutritional choices; get plenty of exercise; and do things that will help restore your energy, such as meditating, or getting a massage. Loving touch heals the body and the mind.
“It is important to do all of these things throughout the year, but especially during the more stressful holiday period,” Kaplan says. “By taking care of yourself and taking steps to decrease your stress level, you can also help fend off illness.”
This year make a commitment to yourself not to allow stress to overwhelm your holidays. Tell those you love about your commitment to de-compress, take the steps to make it happen, and you may sail through the season feeling “chill.”
If you do find that you are feeling overwhelmed, over-stressed or depressed, remember, you’re not alone. This can be a difficult season. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a physician.
The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine has been finding solutions for individuals suffering with chronic pain and illness for more than 25 years. The center’s founder, Dr. Gary Kaplan, is one of only18 physicians in the country who is a board-certified specialist in Family Medicine and Pain Medicine. A leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Kaplan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, a Clinical Associate Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and he has served as a consultant at the National Institutes of Medicine (NIH). The Kaplan Center’s team of physicians, physical therapists and other health care providers combine the best of conventional medicine with the best alternative practices to address chronic pain and illness and to help individuals attain optimal health for life. To learn more, visit The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine’s website.