We all know how stressful this time of year can be, but could you be a stress junkie? Maybe you’ve been adding way too much to your to-do list even though you know you’ll be stretched too thin. Perhaps you go to that holiday party even though it’s thrown by your worst frenemy. And possibly, you wait until the last minute to find every last item on your child’s wish list. All of these are signs that you may be seeking out stress. Dr. Lissa Rankin says, “It’s almost as if being stressed makes us feel important, valuable, and useful.” Unfortunately, the hormones that are released when we’re stressed are responsible for myriad health issues from weight gain and acne to cancer and heart disease. Your body does not digest and metabolize food, sleep or heal as well when it’s bombarded by stress hormones. If any of these signs describe you, it may be time for you to go into stress rehab so you can have a truly happy and healthy holiday.
- You experience backaches and headaches. Heightened levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can cause the body and the brain to become more sensitive to pain, causing aches and pains from head to toe. If this is you, try taking a bath with Epsom salts which ease muscle aches and melt away stress. Even a 20-minute soak a few times a week with some soft music and a glass of red wine can do wonders in detoxing your stress hormones.
- You’re not sleeping well. Since our stress response evolved in us way back when we had to run away from saber tooth tigers in order to not be eaten, some of the side effects of stress don’t allow us to perform basic human functions that might end up in our demise. Basically, it’s not a good idea to sleep while you’re getting chased by a hungry tiger. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, set aside some time about an hour before bed to unwind. This would be a good time to take that bath I mentioned. Or you could meditate, catch up on some light reading or journal all your anxious thoughts all while enjoying a warm cup of herbal tea.
- You’re gaining weight: If you’re eating all the right things, sufficiently depriving yourself of holiday goodies and working out religiously, but you’re still gaining weight, you might be able to blame the cortisol. Among many of the other not-so-nice gifts that cortisol brings is an extra dosage of fat storage, especially around the middle. If you’re having trouble buttoning your jeans, it’s time for you to slow down. Take a few things off that monstrous to-do list, delegate, learn to say no and set aside a little time for just you. Get a massage, spend some time with family and make time for fun. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
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