Managing Holiday Stress

managing stress

As the holidays unfold, they often bring along a touch of stress. The goal is to minimize stress, not only for the sake of enjoyment but also because ignoring stress can detrimentally affect our health.

Stress is a powerful mechanism for survival in short bursts, such as fleeing from a predator or maintaining focus for a brief period. However, prolonged stress gradually damages our body's health over time.When under stress, our body adapts in 12 ways to ensure survival:

  1. Blood pressure increases to supply blood to the extremities for escape.
  2. Heart rate rises to circulate the blood efficiently.
  3. Cholesterol elevates for wound repair and stress hormone supply.
  4. Clotting factors increase to prevent excessive bleeding from wounds.
  5. Fear and anxiety heighten for increased awareness.
  6. Insulin sensitivity decreases to maintain glucose in the system for fuel.
  7. Blood sugar rises to provide additional fuel.
  8. Immune response decreases as the body focuses on larger threats.
  9. Ability to learn and focus diminishes as the body prioritizes immediate concerns.
  10. Digestion slows down as other priorities take precedence.
  11. Reproduction processes slow down or shut off.
  12. Serotonin production decreases due to the current lack of happiness.

Now, picture these processes occurring continuously throughout the day. It becomes evident why stress is a cause for concern.Stress also exerts pressure on the nervous system, perpetuating this adaptive physiology. Regular adjustments, particularly during stressful periods like the holidays, along with exercise and proper nutrition, can mitigate these adverse effects and allow stress to serve its intended purpose.The holidays should not be synonymous with stress; we are no longer fleeing predators. Instead, it's a time to cherish moments with loved ones, sharing joy in being together once again. Reflecting on past happy memories can be challenging, but by focusing on the positive aspects of the season, we can truly savor the most wonderful time of the year!

Yours in health,

Dr. Michelle Irwin

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