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Stress and Your Health: How to Protect Yourself This Holiday Season

We’ve all seen the reports about stress and our mental health, but it’s important to remember that stress greatly affects our physical health as well.  The body’s natural stress reactions work to protect us from predators and other sources of possible danger.  We are hardwired to have a natural stress response, no matter where we live or what we do.  During the holiday season, however, this response can be magnified by all of the celebrations, the shopping and the organizing that often comes with the holidays, causing you to not just feel the stress mentally, but to also suffer from possible physical symptoms as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, in their online article titled “Stress:  Constant Stress Puts Your Health at Risk”, when our natural stress response starts to get overloaded during a particularly stressful time, it can lead to constant feelings of panic, tension and stress.  As reported in the article, “The long-term activation of the stress-response system – and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones – can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes.  This puts you at increased risk for numerous health problems, including heart disease, sleep problems, digestive problems, depression, obesity, memory impairment and worsening of skin conditions.”

It’s important to remember during the holidays that both good and bad stress can have an impact on your health.  You can prepare yourself by having healthy ways of coping in mind before the stress becomes unmanageable.  For some individuals, coping activities include taking a bath or watching their favorite holiday movie, while others prefer to blow off steam in the gym or by taking a walk outside.

If you are feeling particularly stressed this holiday season, try to stay focused on the things that really matter, instead of thinking about everything that you have to do.  While it can be easy to become overwhelmed during this time of year, remember to take some time for yourself – and for your health.