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Don't let stress put a damper on your holiday celebrations

Between party-planning, post-work shopping trips, hosting out-of-town guests, cooking and cleaning, there is no doubt the holiday season can be hectic – and stressful. Yacoba Hudson, M.D., a primary care physician at Piedmont, says she sees patients suffering from stress-related symptoms this time of year.

“It’s often because they are having guests in their home, have more to do and are more stressed in general,” she says. “Plus, if you have too many things on your to-do list, it’s possible that you’ll be running in circles, not getting anything done."

7 ways to keep stress in check

To keep stress at bay during the holidays (and year-round), you will need to both maintain healthy lifestyle habits and make a conscious effort to unwind whenever you can. Dr. Hudson suggests the following tactics:

  1. Maintain a regular exercise routine throughout the holiday season, with a combination of cardiovascular activity, strength training and stretching.

  2. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume at parties, and never drink and drive.

  3. Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

  4. Meditate, pray, get a massage, knit or read a book – whatever activity helps you relax when things are hectic.

  5. Stick to a healthy diet and save the treats for special occasions, like a party or family holiday dinner. It is okay to indulge occasionally, but don’t turn splurging into a weeklong event.

  6. If you have too many seasonal commitments, “delegate, delegate, delegate.” Ask your children to help clean up after dinner or your spouse to pick up the dry cleaning, for example.

  7. Stop smoking and don’t turn to cigarettes when you are anxious.

Signs you are too stressed 

How do you know if you’re under too much pressure? Dr. Hudson says stress can lead to plenty of mental and physical ailments, including:

  • Poor sleep

  • Weight gain

  • Headaches

  • Anxiety

  • Distraction while driving

  • Panic attacks

  • Poor immune function

  • Depression

  • Alcohol or tobacco abuse 

Put things in perspective

If family dynamics are a source of tension, Dr. Hudson recommends remembering you’re only around most relatives for a short period of time. “We may not have these people with us in the future, so enjoy them while you can,” she says.

Finally, Dr. Hudson encourages her patients to think about why they celebrate the holidays in the first place. “People get lost in trying to be perfect,” she explains. “It’s a season of joy and celebration, not perfection or having the best decorations. Savor the moments of the season and enjoy the people you’re around.”

Check out more health and wellness tips from Living Better experts.

Dr. Hudson practices at Piedmont Physicians Group Towne Lake, located at 970 Woodstock Parkway, Suite 100, Woodstock, Ga. 30188. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Hudson or one of our other primary care providers.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

 

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