Welcome to the holiday season — that whirlwind of gift-giving holidays, marketing blitzes, holiday parties, and activities galore that begins right after Halloween, builds to Thanksgiving and continues gaining momentum through the end of the year. While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it’s also the harbinger of holiday stress for many. All things in moderation, as the saying goes. The problem with the holiday season is that we often experience too much of a good thing. While stress itself is necessary for our survival and zest for life, too much stress has a negative impact on our health, both mental and physical. Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can culminate in too much holiday stress and leave us feeling frazzled, rather than fulfilled! Acupuncture treatments can correct imbalances and directly affect the way your body manages stress and your mental health.
Stress, anxiety and depression can cause a disruption in the flow of vital energy, or “Qi”, through the body. These energetic imbalances can throw off the immune system or cause symptoms of pain, sleep disturbances, abnormal digestion, headaches, and menstrual irregularities, and, over time, more serious illnesses can develop. Seasonal acupuncture treatments in winter serve to nurture and nourish “kidney Qi”, which can greatly enhance the body’s ability to thrive in times of stress, aid in healing, prevent illness and increase vitality.
Here are some tips you can try to help reduce holiday stress before it begins so that it remains at a positive level, rather than an overwhelming one:
Set Your Priorities
Before you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it’s important to decide what traditions offer the most positive impact and eliminate superfluous activities. For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a flurry of baking, caroling, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you exhausted by January, you may want to examine your priorities, pick a few favorite activities and really enjoy them, while skipping the rest.
If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping out on sending cards, baking, seeing people, and doing all of the stuff that usually runs you ragged, you may do better including all of these activities in your schedule, but on a smaller scale. Send cards, for example, but only to those with whom you maintain regular communication. Or, don’t include a personal note or letter in each one. Find a way to simplify. The same goes for the baking — will anyone be enraged if you buy baked goods from the bakery instead? If you find ways to cut corners or tone down the activities that are important to you and your family, you may enjoy them much more.
Be Smart with Holiday Eating
During the holidays, we may want to look and feel great (especially if we’re around people we don’t see often–we know that this is how we’ll be remembered), but there is so much temptation in the form of delicious food and decadent desserts, and a break from our regular routines–plus the addition of emotional stress–can all add up to overeating, emotional eating, and other forms of unhealthy eating. This year, plan ahead by being aware of your triggers, do what you can to have some healthy food at hand for each meal, be aware of your intake, and practice mindful eating.
Set A Schedule
Putting your plans on paper can show you, in black and white, how realistic they are. If you find a time management planner and fill in the hours with your scheduled activities, being realistic and including driving time and down time, you will be able to see if you’re trying to pack in too much. Start with your highest priorities, so you will be able to eliminate the less important activities. Be sure to schedule in some time to take a walk-in nature each day if at all possible, as exercise and exposure to daylight can drastically reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of seasonal stress/depression.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to take deep breaths and really give our bodies the oxygen we need. It’s great if you can take ten minutes by yourself to do a breathing meditation, but merely stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of minutes, too. If you visualize that you are breathing in serenity and breathing out stress, you will find the positive effects of this exercise to be even more pronounced.
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