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Just Say NO to Holiday Stress!

img_6068Every December, as the year winds to a close, I get a few dozen emails from patients and clients begging me to squeeze them in. It’s cold and flu season, no doubt, but most often that’s not what’s causing the emails and calls—it’s seasonal stress creeping up wreaking all kinds of havoc.

People are not only calling with typical stress symptoms like anxiety, depression, or sleeplessness, but with all the symptoms that are triggered by stress: IBS and digestive issues, headaches, rashes, inflammation, cravings, you name it. Whatever your weak spot is, wherever you tend to get symptoms, that’s what will flare up with stress.

And stress doesn’t only affect those of us who overdo it and make a big deal about the holidays, it affects most of us. There are so many things that can pile up at this time of year; the emotional aspect of wrapping up one year and starting the next, kids at home, travel, impending family ‘stuff,’ difficulty keeping on plan with food and exercise, financial worries of the season, and on and on.

If you’re one of the people who have more stress at this time of year I have some really good news. You can say NO!

Perhaps the worst thing about stress is that it so often feels like there is nothing we can do about it. Sure, we can meditate, breathe deeply, and practice mindfulness—these are good things to do. But even if we do those things often, we continue to have stresses pile up and eventually overflow because, simply, life happens.

But there is something you can do. If you think about it a little bit differently, you’ll see that you have much more control than you think!

Most people understand stress to be driven and impacted by factors we are familiar with from media, pop culture, and psychology. We think of large, life-changing events, such as a divorce, marriage, a sick family member, work or school pressures, a big move, or other events or circumstances that are out of our control.

The truth is that stress is more than just those big things. Stress is the entirety of the things that overwhelm us, the overall burden of the choices we make every single day about our food, our environment, who we choose to spend time with, where we spend our money, how we use our time, and many other things.

Of these myriad stressors, each one will fall into one of three categories
1.     Things you cannot change.
2.     Things you can change.
3.     Things you choose not to change.

Most of us feel like our stress falls largely into the first category. The reality is that most of it falls into one of the last two. The trick to choose what you can and will change, right now, to get your overall load down.

Say no to the things that aren’t important to say yes to right now. Can you pick up a tree at a lot instead of driving an hour and a half to cut one down? Can you avoid sugar for the next few weeks so you have more energy for the extra things on your plate? Can you turn the TV off at 8 instead of getting stuck watching until 11?

Make no mistake, decreasing your overall stress load allows you freedom to breathe. It allows you more bandwidth to deal with the things you can’t change, and the things you’re choosing not to change. 

dsc_0215Be honest with yourself, and reasonable.

Think twice before you add something else to your plate.

Do what you can, and what’s important.

What are 2 things that you can say no to that will free up bandwidth for you to deal with the inevitable stresses of the season?

Hit reply and tell me what they are, I’d love to know!

Yours in Health,

PS. This photo of my boys is about 6 years old, I decided not to do a shoot for this blog post…one more thing off my plate! Man, do I miss those fat little cheeks!

This website is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for individualized medical or professional advice, care, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your personal physician regarding the applicability of any information on this site.

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