5 Tips to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Happy Holidays!

For many the holidays are a happy time where they look forward to reuniting with family and friends, but for some, it brings on a sense of anxiety and depression. Presents to wrap, meals to prepare, trying to keep crazy Aunt JoJo from stirring up too much trouble, and the list goes on. For some it’s just too much and they can easily become overwhelmed.

Acupuncture has been proven to help relieve stress. We see it in the clinic frequently, and you may have experienced this yourself. On the simplest level, acupuncture works to affect the hormones to lessen those “fight or flight” hormones and to release the “feel good” hormones. At the root level, anxiety and depression are typically caused by an imbalance in your body. And while we can’t keep crazy Aunt JoJo in line, we are happy to help you resolve the underlying health conditions that so commonly crop up during this time of year and lead to that out-of-control feeling. As our gift to you these holiday, here are a few tips to help you manage the stress of the Holidays.

5 Ways to Manage the Stress of the Holidays

Here are 5 ways you can manage stress during the holidays when you can’t get into the clinic.

Simplify and Prioritize – Do you really need to send 250 Christmas cards, or even 50? We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to pull off the perfect holiday, with just the right gifts, food, decorations and so on. But setting unrealistic expectations only leads to disappointment and distress and leaves you missing out. You’ll easily cut your holiday to-do list in half by simplifying your holiday plans and limiting gifts to close family and friends instead of gifting to everyone in the neighborhood. And you’ll thank yourself when the holiday bills come rolling in too!

Plan ahead, but stay flexible – Many times, we can reduce the panic when things go wrong by planning ahead. Having extra food or clean towels for that unexpected guest or making sure you have an escape plan to get some time away from the chaos can go a long way. Even go so far as to plan how you’ll react when crazy Aunt JoJo pulls the same stunt she pulls every.single.year. Just don’t spend too much energy and money in the plan that makes it very costly to change if the situation calls for it. We have so many traditions that have been in our family for generations and it’s hard to let go of some, but sometimes we just have to be flexible and go with the flow.

Stay positive and laugh! Some of the best holiday memories are made when things don’t work out as planned. Remember the time when the dog stole the turkey off of the table? All families are wonderfully complex, layered with generations of baggage. Remember, however, the holiday season also brings the possibility of building bridges back to people we love, even if they drive us crazy. Look for those opportunities to share fun times with loved ones and focus on the positive aspects of the holidays. And don’t forget to find a little humor in those difficult situations!

Take a deep breath! Typically, the first thing we do when we are stressed is speed up our breathing, and start breathing from the chest instead of the diaphragm. Breathing quickly from the chest activates the “fight or flight” hormones, while breathing deeply though the diaphragm supplies more oxygen to our brain cells and activates the “rest and relax” parasympathetic nervous system which is the antidote to holiday stress. You can do this in some easy ways such as taking deep breaths with long exhalations, spending time enjoying nature breathing in fresh air, playing calm music and relaxing the body as a whole. One simple breathing technique is just to count your breath – inhale one, exhale two, inhale three – you get the idea. Count to 10 and then count backwards back to 1. Do this a few times and you’ll be back to calm in no time. See our Breathing video blog post here.

Up your support. For some reason, it seems like most deaths or break-ups happen around the holidays, so the memories of losing a loved one also fall around this time too. Feelings of loss and failure can bring on depression. Make sure you have your support and coping mechanisms at the ready, and even consider increasing them. If you normally go to one yoga class a week, consider adding another. If you were thinking of waiting until after the holidays to get in for your acupuncture treatment, reconsider and come in before the chaos lets loose. It is important to acknowledge your feelings, and in doing so, know that you are not alone. Engage others, ask for help when you need it, exercise and get some sunshine, all of which can help to fight off your holiday funk. Another way to beat the blues is to offer your help to someone else. It’s difficult to feel glum when you are busy giving to others. That’s what the holidays are all about anyway, right?

Posted in Lifestyle, Movement, Health Conditions