While the holidays can create festive cheer and fun memories, for many, the last month of the year can be a stressful, challenging time to navigate. Juggling family needs, professional responsibilities, and magical expectations can be difficult for anyone to manage, and often the pressure results in an increased feeling of stress.
If this sounds like you, know that you aren’t alone, as a recent survey found that 88% of Americans consider the holidays to be the most stressful time of the year.
The biological roots of the stress response come from cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands. Stressful or difficult situations trigger the body to release this powerful hormone, which increases the heart rate and disrupts the natural rhythm of the body’s systems.
While you can’t ever hope to outright eliminate all the sources of stress, what we can control is our reaction. In doing so, the harmful effects of stress can be minimized and a happier, healthier, holiday season enjoyed.
Recognize the Signs of Stress
There’s a noticeable difference between being busy and suffering from holiday stress. One of the best ways to combat stressful feelings is to develop an internal awareness that recognizes the telltale signs.
Here are some of the physical and mental warning flags of stress:
- Constant fatigue
- Higher resting heart rate
- Decreased appetite
- Heightened irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irregular muscle tension
- Spotty memory
- Restless mind
It is completely normal to experience these feelings at one point or another throughout the holidays, and it’s important to not overreact from just one difficult day. If you begin to notice several of these signs piling up in your daily life, however, and they last for multiple days, then it might be time to take steps to relieve yourself of some stress.
If you are unsure if the signs you are feeling and seeing are stress-related, then contact our staff at Community Pharmacy today. In doing so, you can catch holiday stress early by being on the lookout for these signs.
Once you know what to look for when it comes to holiday stress, you can plan an effective response strategy to cope in a healthy manner.
Develop Healthy Coping Strategies
When feelings of stress begin to mount, two of the most effective coping strategies to develop are healthy exercise and diet habits.
Even a quick twenty-minute trip to the gym can work wonders in reducing cortisol levels. If you’d rather do something less intensive, a simple walk around the neighborhood can get the blood moving and dissipate some of the stress.
Similarly, our diet plays a large role in how we physically feel. While we all love the sugary treats and general indulgence of the holidays, it’s important to note that these foods in excess can have negative effects and compound feelings of stress. Similarly, alcohol can be detrimental to our health, and while it can feel effective in relieving stress at the moment, in excess it can increase feelings of stress.
It’s ok to enjoy yourself during the holidays, but be mindful to establish a healthy balance and system to keep your body and the digestive system stable and strong.
Counter Holiday Stress With Supplements
As we know cortisol makes stress occur chemically, you can also take supplements to give some much-needed aid to the overstimulated adrenal glands.
Supplements that contain the following are proven to provide a protective blanket against stress:
- Vitamin D
- Valerian Root
- Vitamin C
- B-complex vitamins
A multivitamin containing one or more of these vitamins can be the ideal boost to help with holiday stress. At Community Pharmacy, we offer a wide variety of supplements that are proven to provide whole-body health, and our staff can find the perfect fit for your unique needs. See our store locator here, and you can add a little stress relief to your life today.
When taken in conjunction with a healthy diet, and exercise, supplements can give you a powerful tool that makes holiday stress less intense and far more manageable.
At the peak of a stressful time though, one of the best things we can give to ourselves is some space and support.
Make Space For Yourself & Support
Throughout the busiest time of year, sometimes even the best habits and tools fall short of keeping stressful thoughts and feelings at bay. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, then prioritize time for yourself and rely upon a trusted support network.
Even a few intentional minutes spent alone can be just what we need to catch our breath and lower stress levels. Consider adding a quick breathwork or meditation practice to your routine, as even a six-second break in this manner can help reduce cortisol levels and subsequent feelings of stress.
Sometimes, a person just needs to vent a bit to relieve feelings of stress. Finding a friend or family member removed from the source of stress can be a healthy way to verbalize and process a difficult situation. This is far better than bottling things up inside and hoping the feelings just go away on their own.
Exercise, diet, and supplements play a large part in perhaps the most important way to cope with holiday stress—a healthy sleep cycle. Set the table for successful sleep by avoiding screens for an hour after and before sleep, and avoid consuming anything caffeinated in the afternoon. Throughout the busiest time of year, giving yourself the gift of solid sleep works wonders against feelings of stress.
At Community Pharmacy, we want to put effective tools in the hands of our clients so they can enjoy the holiday season without stress dragging them down. If you have stress-related or general health questions, contact us today, and we’d be happy to recommend helpful products or create personalized treatment programs based on lifestyle, diet, and pharmaceutical-grade supplements that are proven to work.
While we all want our holidays to be full of cheer and warm memories with those we hold most dear, realistically, there will be times of stress along the way as well. Recognizing and preparing for them can help minimize their effects so that we can move forward into the New Year with a healthy body and mind.