Newsletter Article

‘Tis the season to beat holiday stress

With the holiday season upon us, it’s important to develop a strategy for reducing the stress that comes with travel, parties, family, and finding just the right gift for everyone on our list. The holidays are supposed to be a time to rejoice with loved ones, but a recent survey found that Christmas ranked as the 6th most stressful life event![1]

Stress is the body’s natural response to demand.[2] Stress is not always a bad thing. When we are faced with a dangerous situation, a potentially life-saving ‘fight or flight’ stress response is triggered. However, chronic stress can be harmful because it suppresses important functions in our bodies, which can lead to reduced immunity and problems with the digestive and reproductive systems. Unmanaged stress often triggers other unhealthy behaviors, such as emotional eating or excessive alcohol consumption.

The first way to reduce seasonal stress is to be realistic when making your holiday plans. It’s easy to become consumed with recreating the same ‘perfect’ holiday traditions over and over, but as families age and grow, it can be fun (and less stressful!) to be flexible and add some new traditions to the mix. Financial stress is something many of us experience during the holiday season.[3] The costs of gift giving, entertaining, and travel can add up quickly, but you can avoid overspending by setting a specific budget for each expense category and sticking to it!

Some stress is inevitable during the holiday season, but you can help keep it in check with regular exercise, which increases endorphins and reduces cortisol levels.[4] Eating regular meals may help to curb emotional eating and overeating, which tend to occur more frequently on an empty stomach. And finally, don’t forget to relax. This should be an enjoyable time of year spent with friends and family, so take time to reflect and appreciate the season.