In addition to Shaklee'ss Stress Relief Complex -- which helps within 20 to 30 minutes -- and Dr. McManus' suggestions below -- two of my favorite stress and anxiety reduction tools are:
Oh the holidays! They can be the best of times and the worst of times. On the good side, I absolutely love spending time with family and friends whom I don’t see regularly, and I love decorating our home and spending more time in the kitchen. But with these fun activities come long lines at the mall, traffic jams, and the general stress of shopping, cooking, and cleaning. So…keep reading to learn how you can learn to reduce stress!
When we should all be spending more time close to home and hearth, we are rushing with so many holiday-related activities on top of our already busy schedules. . And then there is the food; while it is wonderful to get invited to so many parties, your sister doesn’t always have your health or your weight management struggles in mind when she serves creamed onions, stuffed sweet potatoes, and that impossible-to-resist pumpkin cheesecake! And then there is the eggnog and all those appetizers!
All of this can add up to more stress, and that stress can have a big impact on your immune system. Yes, it is true; stress can weaken the immune system. In fact, there is a whole field of science (called psychoneuroimmunology) that studies just how powerfully our mind influences our health and what these scientists are learning is that what goes on in our minds can dramatically affect our bodies.
How do you know if you are stressed?
This may sound a little strange, but many of you may be more stressed than you know.
Typical signs that you are stressed include anxiety, feeling time pressure, forgetfulness, tight muscles, changes in appetite, changes in digestion, and insomnia. But you may also be stressed if you are noticing forgetfulness, anger, low libido, or even changes in your menstrual cycle.
Chronic stress is a bit of a vicious cycle where the hormones of stress tend to create more stress later on. So the more stress you feel, the more you feel stressed. Your immune system takes a big hit when you experience these chronic stresses, but you are also at a higher risk for anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, and weight gain.
In order to survive this holiday season with your immune system intact, I recommend the following tips to reduce stress:
- • Focus on what is important: Your family and friends are what is important during the holidays, not the perfect gift. Nothing expresses love better than love; show them you care.
- • Take time for you: Don’t just fill your to-do list with errands for other people. Be a little selfish and remember to find time to relax and also try to set realistic goals on what you can get done each day.
- • Find time to exercise: Yes, it is cold outside, yes it is dark outside, yes you had too much to eat last night and want to stay in bed, but getting up and doing a yoga tape or going to the gym will not only help your mood and your energy, but also quells anxiety, lifts depression, and gives your immune system the boost it needs.
- • Practice mindfulness (also called thoughtfulness): Call it mediation, prayer, or just quiet time, but research supports the use of thoughtfulness as a way to reduce stress. Deep breathing is often the quickest way to send your whole body a relaxing message.
- • Don’t abandon your healthy habits: You know what you should be eating. There are many temptations and you might think that a sugary treat will help your mood, but that good feeling is fleeting and then will be followed by guilt or feeling bad when your sugar rush turns into a blood sugar drop. Check out this article for healthier holiday eating tips.
Jamie McManus, M.D., FAAFP
Chair of Medical Affairs, Health Science, & Education