Stress at Christmas is inevitable. You have all the presents to buy, you may be coping with money problems, having in-laws over that you do not get on with, and then there is the actual day when a normal ‘roast dinner’ takes on gigantuan proportions. All this adds to the overall stress that builds up over the coming weeks. Which is a shame as it is a time where you are supposed to be enjoying yourself. We all respond to stress the same way, with a “fight-or-flight” reaction. It’s our natural response to a perceived threat. In our ancestors days, that threat was something simple like a beast trying to kill us. Nowadays we have all kinds of ‘threats’ that include the break up of a marriage, getting stuck in traffic, moving house or death of a loved one.
What happens to your body when you start to feel stressed is that an alarm goes off in your brain. Your adrenal glands that sit atop of your kidneys are told to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones pump up your pulse, blood pressure and sugar levels in your blood. They get you ready to either fight or run. The stress response does not stop there. It also suppresses nonessential functions, controls mood, and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. When the threat is removed, the body returns to a normal state. If you suffer prolonged exposure to stress your health can be damaged. Overexposure to stress hormones can lead to depression, heart disease, impaired memory, insomnia and obesity.
It is impossible to escape all stress, but we can learn how to deal with it. Here are some great stress busting techniques to help you overcome stress, not only at Christmas, but at any time of your life when you feel stressful.
Exercise can decrease the production of stress hormones and elevate the level of endorphins, the brain’s neurotransmitters that make you feel good. Exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. If you are feeling stressed out the best thing you can do is get out into the fresh air and either do some power walking or go for a 10 minute jog.
Meditation can give you peace of mind. Focusing your attention is an important part of meditation because it liberates your mind from distractions that cause stress and worry. It’s easy and you can do it whenever or wherever you want. There are many types of meditation: Mantra meditation; Guided imagery; Yoga; Tai chi; Qi gong. Choose the one that works best for you.
Thoughts run through our minds constantly. Some are negative and self-defeating. Others are positive and empowering. You can control what you want to dwell upon. If a negative thought pops into your consciousness, you can block it out and replace it with a positive thought. This technique will reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, and lead to better mental and physical health. And remember, never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else.
Getting a good nights sleep is imperative to relieving stress for many reasons. Sleeping well restores the mind and body. Lack of sleep is ranked with obesity and smoking as a leading danger to your health. Try to set aside enough time to sleep. If you find that you cannot sleep during the night then take frequent naps throughout the day instead. At a very last resort and as a temporary remedy, if your insomnia is really affecting you then do not be afraid to visit your doctor and ask for some sleeping tablets to tide you over this rough patch.