Be Merry and Light
December 10, 2019
With the holidays soon upon us, the stress of shopping, cooking for the masses, paying bills, and enforced family “gaiety” can be a little too much for some of us. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays, which puts their health at risk. The APA also learned that during this time, 41 percent of women use food and 28 percent use alcohol to “manage” their stress. The irony is that those extra pounds gained during the holidays add to our stress levels AFTER the holidays are over. In order to “be merry and light” this holiday season, here are a few simple suggestions to lighten your stress load. And, the bonus, none of them will make you gain weight!
1) Put yourself in time out! It worked for little Bobby. It can work for you. What is the one room in the house that usually has a lock on it? The bathroom. Lock the door and take a few moments to decompress. Better yet, fill that bathtub with eucalyptus Epsom salts, take a bath and turn your own bathroom into a mini-spa retreat. You can buy Epsom salts at any drug store for less than $6. It works!
2) Move it! No, you don’t have to run a marathon (unless you want to). Simply, take a power walk around the block. Research shows that physical activity not only boosts your fitness and energy levels but can also elevate your moods. Plus, exercise has been found to reduce anger, tension, fatigue and confusion. So put on your favorite tunes, get outside and be thankful that Fall is finally here! Mother Nature has her own special blend of healing powers, savor them.
3) Be generous…with yourself! You do so much for everyone ALL of the time, you can put yourself at the top your To Do List for once. Have your feet not seen the inside of a salon in a while? Are you slammed and jammed for time? Make an appointment for an Express Pedicure with a mini-foot massage thrown in. The express pedi saves time, saves money and the massage alleviates tension and stimulates circulation. Bonus… every time you look at your pretty toes, you’ll get a little pick-me-up. Inexpensive and oh so worth it!
4) Squeeze please! The fleshy spot between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine. Applying firm pressure there for just 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body. So if you start to feel overwhelmed by the holiday chaos, give your hand a squeeze and take a deep breathe.
5) Hug it out! Do you really need an excuse to give someone a hug? Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” This is because its levels rise when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone else. Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress. Scientists have found that this hormone has a strong effect in women. Oxytocin causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine. There, you now have a medical excuse to give someone a hug!
And finally, during all the madness, try to remember what the holidays are all about. Spending time with the ones you love. I hope you have a merry, light, hug-inducing holiday season!
-Dr. Angela DeRosa