Tag Archives: stress

How to anticipate and relieve holiday stress

Halloween has barely come and gone, if that long, before magazine articles, television programs , retail advertisements, and radio music  tell us that this is

“the most wonderful time of the year.” 

That is until the extra work of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning and entertaining makes it the least wonderful time.

snowflakes making a Christmas tree

While we  welcome celebrating with family and friends, those encounters can create emotional tension and strain. When we feel  sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death,  the season can become the worst of the year.

By anticipating these events and feelings, we can prepare ourselves for the physical and emotional stress of the holiday season, and find a way to enjoy the festivities with “hearts all a glowing.”

These  resources offer  sound advice for confronting  and conquering holiday challenges.

Writer Bruce Y. Lee takes a lighthearted but serious look at the holiday season and suggests music may help us cope better in

 How To Reduce And Deal With Holiday Stress

Twelve Days of Christmas”: Keep perspective and if the Holidays are tough for you, remember that the Holiday season is temporary and will pass. Try not to take yourself and things too seriously. Just make sure you maintain healthy habits and avoid behaviors that will lead to health problems (such as gaining weight) beyond the holiday season.”

colorful wrapped packages

Consider this advice from WebMD before going 

Home for the Holidays 

“Don’t worry about how things should be. Most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings — they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.

a cute snowman

31 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas from Woman’s Day

#23 Know when to say no.

Can’t say no? Then keep your gatherings small and intimate. Get together with a few of your closest friends or relatives for the holidays. Choose to throw the big blowout parties at another time of the year, when you and your guests will have fewer commitments competing for your precious time.”

glowing cancles

 A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas (Spirit of Simple Living) A Simple Christmas book cover

by Sharon Hanby-Robie

“The secret to a happy holiday is learning to collaborate and to create a plan that is uniquely yours with a goal to experience more serenity, more joy, and more opportunities to nurture the souls of those you love.

But, most important, it is to remember the greatest gift ever given, the gift of the Christ Child. Take time to simply sit and ponder this amazing miracle. ”

a nativity arrangement of the manger

And in his blog post

Choose Holiday Traditions That Serve You

Joshua Becker reminds us that

“Traditions should draw our attention to the underlying reason for the season.

Traditions should not detract from the season, they should elevate it.”

Here are the 5 key points I find in these references.

Which ones speak to you?

5 keys to manage holiday stress before it manages you 

  1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and others.
  2. Anticipate stressful situations, places, and people.
  3. Plan and prepare carefully, but stay flexible for the unexpected.
  4. Keep your  health maintenance routine- healthy eating, exercise, adequate sleep.
  5. Remember what is most important about the season-family, friends, faith.

Please let me know how your holiday season turns out this year.

Thanks to Pixabay for the Christmas photos used in this post.

I would love for you to share this  information  on your social media pages.

And follow Watercress Words for more information, instruction, and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH .

 

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non-drug ways to get well and stay well

In a previous post I introduced you to Mind Over Meds by Dr. Andrew Weil . I reviewed 7 classes of medications he teaches we should use less often. MIND OVER MEDS- book cover

In another previous post I shared 7 drug classes I consider overused, 4 of which he discusses in his book.

In this follow up post I list alternatives to drug therapy. These are also adjuncts to medication- meaning we recommend using them even if you do need medication.

Dr. Weil mentions these in his book, and I’ve pulled from other sources too.

This is a brief overview of several approaches, not a complete list. If you are interested in knowing more, I suggest exploring the reference links. I invite you to send me a message about a topic you would like me to explore in more depth here.

This post uses affiliate links  that support this blog and non-affiliate links that don’t.

EAT TO TREAT

I, Dr. Weil and most physicians recommend diet changes to treat and prevent many common medical conditions. Almost any health issue can be improved with better food choices.

bottle of olive oil

Olive oil is an important ingredient in the Mediterranean diet .

The Mediterranean diet, emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish,  and healthy fats like olive oil, seems to protect against heart disease and increase longevity.

The DASH diet is the first choice to lower blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and also emphasizes fresh foods and healthy choices.

The American Diabetes Association offers extensive information on eating to control diabetes.

Food choices are also important in treating high cholesterol, GERD, allergy, heart disease, overweight, gout, kidney stones and other kidney disease, and possibly other conditions.

PLANTS THAT TREAT

Herbal medicines are endorsed by Dr. Weil; he points out that early synthetic drugs were derived from plants. Unfortunately most physicians have not had extensive training in their use. They are also not regulated as stringently as prescription drugs so quality may not be uniform.

Herbal medicines are used to treat a wide variety of conditions and symptoms including headaches, gastric distress, hot flushes, depression, insomnia, pain, allergy among others. Scientific confirmation of their effectiveness is lacking for most, but some patients find them helpful and some physicians endorse, or at best tolerate their use.

The unsupervised use of herbs and other dietary supplements can be dangerous, especially if combined with other drugs.

USING OUR MINDS

Mind-body therapies can be helpful in managing painful conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), migraine, joint pain, and anxiety/depressive disorders. These include

  • Hyposis
  • Biofeedback
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation techniques

 

 TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Breath work- changing habits of breathing and specific breathing techniques can relieve anxiety, and manage stress. Dr. Weil calls

Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing and teaches how to do it in this recording. 

GET MOVING

Exercise and other forms of physical activity help manage all kinds of musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, lowers blood pressure, aids weight loss,relieves anxiety and depression.  They may even have a role in preventing or delaying the onset of dementia. This includes

woman standing on a rock in a forest

Walking, especially outdoors, can relieve feelings of stress and tension as well as improve physical fitness.  Photo from Lightstock.com

graphic

Yoga

Tai chai

Aerobics

Strength training

Dance

Sports

Walking

Jogging

Bicycling

 TOUCH

Manual medicine is used to manage back, neck, and other musculoskeletal pain and headaches.

  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • TNS-transcutaneous nerve stimulation
  • Massage
  • Support with splints, wraps, slings, braces

TRAINING THE MIND

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and other forms of psychotherapy should be a part of the treatment of most mental disorders and may be the only treatment needed for mild conditions. The use of therapy animals also fits here.

CHANGING OUR LIVES

Lifestyle evaluation and adjustments can improve any medical condition and is also one of the most important factors in prevention of disease.

 

Hygiene                           

a sink with colorful wall decorations

Who knew handwashing could be entertaining?

Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent many infections, especially those that can be transmitted by food and water. Proper food preparation and storage and kitchen clean up also contribute to safety.

 

 

 

 

Sleep

Habits that create sleep deprivation or poor sleep contribute to depression,musculoskeletal pain, headaches, fatigue, and even make us more prone to infection. Check out this previous post on how to get a good night’s sleep

a bed in a room

One’s sleep environment affects quality of sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chemicals and pollutants

Avoidance of allergens and toxins should be automatic. For allergy, any known allergens -substances that cause allergy symptoms-can often be eliminated from one’s immediate environment, although I have had patients who insisted on keeping pets that they were allergic to. If the allergens cannot be completely eliminated, you can at least minimize exposure.

At this affiliate link you can find products to help eliminate allergens in your home


 

It seems we call everything a “toxin” these days, and detox regimens are popular. (although our bodies naturally detox us every day).

Anything in excess can be harmful. But our overall health as a society would improve immensely if more people would avoid the obvious toxins of tobacco, excess alcohol, and illicit drugs.

sign says NO smoking, wilderness area

When walking, wear proper shoes; and don’t smoke.

Review 7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stress management 

Many of the techniques I’ve mentioned help with stress management. In turn, managing the stressful events and situations in our lives can help us feel more rested, less tense, more relaxed, calmer, and able to manage our other medical problems better.

FamilyDoctor.org offers these steps to Managing Daily Stress 

 

 

Dr. Weil recommends these resources about  integrative and complementary medical treatments

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The Office of Dietary Supplements 

 

Dr. Weil’s books are also available at


Barnes & Noble – Free Shipping of $25+

 

If you found this post helpful, please share with friends and colleagues. And let me know too. I welcome feedback and use it to plan future posts.

Christmas tree, statues of old man and a boy

Expert advice to conquer holiday stress

Magazine articles, television programs and music playlists tell us that this is

“the most wonderful time of the year.” 

That is until the extra work of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning and entertaining makes it the least wonderful time.

a gingerbread house

While most of us welcome the chance to celebrate with family and friends, sometimes those encounters create emotional tension and strain. When we feel  sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death,  the season can become the worst of the year.

By anticipating these events and feelings, we can prepare ourselves for the physical and emotional stress of the holiday season, and find a way to enjoy the festivities with “hearts glowing.”

Here are links to  and brief quotes from some resources with sound advice for confronting  and conquering holiday challenges.

Surviving Holiday Stress  from Oklahoma Magazine

Plan. Make your list and check it twice. Being prepared for parties and presents and having help from family and friends can reduce last-minute stress.

red and gold Christmas tree bulbs

6 tips for staying happy and healthy  from Mayo Clinic

Over-the-top holiday excursions can be stressful, which is not how you should be spending this joyful season. Focus on your holiday traditions — don’t worry about the rest. Make time for friends, family and good cheer, and embrace relaxation when you can. Don’t neglect the value of sleep, either. Do all that you can to stick to a normal sleep schedule even around all the celebrations and traveling. Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, daytime napping and large meals before bed. These factors can interfere with a good night’s rest.

a decorative snowman figure

The “No Bullish” Guide to Getting Through the Holidays from Freud and Fashion

Set boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  If you’re a “Yes Man/Woman” (someone who always says “yes” and has a hard time saying “no”), then you not only have to deal with the stress of planning for the holiday, but also the overwhelming pressure to please everyone since you’re the reliable person whom everyone depends on (or the schmuck whom everyone takes advantage of), which leads to internal feelings of guilt, exhaustion, anger, and resentment if you can’t carry out all the duties expected of you, but then blame everyone else for not helping you (you probably also don’t feel comfortable asking for or accepting help, right?)

decorative wrapped packages

11 Holiday Shopping Tips  from Bank of America

Don’t shop ’til you drop
Sticking to your shopping list can help you avoid going off on a spree. It’s also smart to take a break between buys. Yale University researchers have found that making a purchase can trigger what they call the “shopping momentum effect”—a psychological impulse to buy subsequent items. To counteract the effect, just walk away from the store or computer screen for a few minutes. And no window-shopping on your way out.

Dealing With Grief  from AARP

Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren’t up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs: You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.

And enjoy “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Eddie Pola and George Wyle.

Arranged by Hawley Ades

Cantare Children’s Choir: Catherine Glaser-Climie
Ron Bennie, Accompanist

Photos used in this post -compliments of the photographers at Pixabay 

Next post- tips for healthy holiday eating

 

Please join me December 26 though December 30 as we review this blog’s top 5 most viewed posts from 2016.  All views from now until then count so even I don’t know definitely which they will be.