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Holiday Stress Affects the Mind and Body

The holidays are meant to be about spending time with those you love and making memories. However, the holidays are not always a great time for everyone. Stress due to health problems, pain, financial difficulties, relationship issues and loneliness can be significant factors at holiday time.

According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, “Nearly a quarter of Americans reported feeling ‘extreme stress’ come holiday time. Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69 percent of people are stressed by the feeling of having a ‘lack of time,’ 69 percent are stressed by perceiving a ‘lack of money,’ and 51 percent are stressed out about the ‘pressure to give or get gifts.”

The problem is stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.

Stress not only amplifies anxiety and depression it also weakens the immune system. A weaker immune system increases the risk of becoming sick or accentuates the health problems that you already have. For instance, with stress you are more likely to catch a cold / sinus infection or develop shingles. Inflammation and pain escalate dramatically. Autoimmune symptoms will get worse. Stress can even cause a heart attack!

With occasional stress, the body’s stress-response system is self-regulating. Once a perceived stress or event has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

But when you constantly feel under attack or stressed, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. Constant worry wears down your body, making you feel tired and anxious. 

The overlap of anxiety, depression, and pain is particularly evident in chronic and sometimes disabling pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain. Chronic pain causes stress and more pain! It activates the nervous system and the persistently stressed nervous system leads to chronic muscle tension, which becomes painful in and of itself. As a result of persistent stress, the brain comes to process pain information with greater and greater sensitivity and as a result less and less stimuli are required to experience pain

The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems. 

Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

Therefore this holiday season, when stress is all around you, look for those things you can do naturally without side effects to tone down the stress over reactions.

First of all… unplug a little more. Reduce the amount of time you are checking the news. Stay up to dated but don’t become obsessed.

Reduce your caffeine intake. It does not help the situation. Stay hydrated with water to help clear out the negative hormones created by stress. Don’t skip meals and don’t gorge on sugary foods including alcohol and fruit juice. High and low blood sugar levels affect your moods and stress levels. Drink a calming tea with meals!

Remember to do deep breathing exercises daily and try some relaxation yoga. Regular gentle exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Listen to uplifting music or watch funny TV shows or movies. Don’t take on more than you can comfortably do and pace yourself.

Helpful Supplements:

For Anxiety and Depression: 

Theanine Serene with Relora (Source Naturals) is a more comprehensive supplement containing the amino acid L-theanine, to support relaxation and focused attention, and the calming neurotransmitter GABA. It also features magnesium to support muscle and nerve relaxation, holy basil leaf extract lifts mood and Relora to gently soothe away the tension in your body. This combination helps with anxiety and depression. Take 1 tablet 2-4x day.

For Stress and Anxiety:

Calm & Calmer (Lifetime Vitamins) is a supplement that combines different nutrients. L-Theanine which is an amino acid found in green tea and extracted out. It helps to calm the mind of racing or stressful worrying thoughts to help you feel less overwhelmed. Relora is an herbal combination that calms the adrenal rush leading to panic attack, out of control type feelings. This adrenaline rush often precipitates panic attacks. Calm and Calmer is great for all stressful situations without making you sleepy.

Anxiety Soother liquid (Herb Pharm) For those who don’t like pills! Designed to support your body’s response to moments of occasional and mild anxiety. Calming, relaxing, soothing and mood elevating. Proprietary extract blend: 625 mg Kava rhizome with root, Passionflower flowering herb, Bacopa herb, Albizia bark, Lavender flower and Lavender essential oil. Other Ingredients certified organic cane alcohol (66-76%), distilled water & certified organic vegetable glycerin. Dilute in water & or juice.

GABA Ease (VitanicaGABA and L-theanine, Passionflower, skullcap, and hops forcalming and nerve tonic support. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger in your brain and blocks specific signals in the central nervous system to reduce pain and produce a calming effect. Studies have shown that supplementation was effective as a relaxant and anxiety reliever. Other studies have shown GABA can help people to recover quickly from extreme stress incidents.

Chamomile Tea not only reduces stress and anxiety, but it also helps lessens difficultly with getting to sleep. Chamomile tea also helps relax the muscles and reduces irritability.There are also many combination herbal relaxing teas available too.

For Elevated Excitability or Worrying thoughts (also safe for children and pets):

L-Theanine 100mg is an amino acid found in green tea and extracted out. It helps to calm the mind of racing or worrying thoughts without making you sleepy. In fact, it helps to make you more focused, less distracted and overwhelmed. We have found in our practice to be safe with most medications and safe for children and pets too. Theanine can also help you sleep (although it does not cause sleepiness) as it calms your thoughts before bed, thus allowing you to fall into a natural sleep. Capsules can be opened and mixed with food or beverages.

1. Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower) is a combination flower essence for children and adults that helps to diminish overwhelming emotions, particularly when they are unpredictable. It is handy to carry around with you in your pocket or purse. Just few drops in the mouth or topically as often as needed. It also comes as a lozenge and cream. Best of all you can’t overdose on Rescue Remedy and it is safe for any age and does not interfere with medication.

Wishing you a healthy and less stress holiday season!

If you need further assistance call Holistic Healthline Radio every Saturday 8am-10am EST toll free 1-866-920-9455.

Jane Jansen  Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center  508-336-4242

Host Holistic Healthline Radio