Managing Stress in the Holiday Season

For many families, the holiday season conjures up images of family get-togethers, delicious meals, and excited children eager to unwrap their gifts. Unfortunately, the season can also be stressful, given the usual obligations to travel, shop, and bake treats. Chronic or severe stress can lead to a number of unhealthy consequences. For patients who already have chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, it’s particularly important to keep stress under control. Consider visiting your local hospital to speak with a physician about chronic stress and related issues such as anxiety disorder and depression. For residents of the West Hills area, West Hills Hospital is your partner in wellness.

Limit Your Commitments

One common source of holiday stress is overscheduling. Take a close look at your schedule and decide which commitments you can reasonably expect to fulfill. You can politely decline invitations to holiday parties that conflict with your schedule. Consider making other holiday-related tasks more manageable, such as shopping online instead of navigating crowded stores and baking simple mini loaves of quick bread to give as gifts instead of filling holiday tins with multiple types of cookies.

Exercise Regularly

Chronic stress is characterized by high levels of cortisol—the so-called “stress hormone.” In response to stress, the adrenal glands release more cortisol. Since exercise is a temporary deviation from homeostasis, the body interprets it as a stressor. However, when you exercise regularly, your body will train itself to have a better response to stress , including reducing cortisol levels.

Embrace Your Creativity

In addition to commonsense strategies, try embracing whimsy. Laughing reduces your cortisol levels and triggers the release of endorphins. These hormonal changes naturally relieve the effects of stress on your body. Consider looking for a laughter yoga group near you. Or, spend a few minutes watching funny videos online. If work is stressing you out, stash a few deflated balloons in your desk drawer. When anxiety develops, blow up a balloon. You’ll get the benefits of deep breathing, a diversion from the source of your stress, and probably a few chuckles from your co-workers.

At West Hills Hospital , we’re committed to improving the quality of life for our neighbors throughout West Hills by providing comprehensive preventive wellness services. At our community hospital, you’ll also find prompt emergency care, compassionate cancer care, and family-centered maternity health services. You can reach out to our Consult-A-Nurse line by calling (818) 676-4321.

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