CHRISTMAS – just the idea can bring joy to some and dread to others.
The celebratory cocktail of giving, seeing family, and overeating can make us sick during party season.
According to the Stress Management Society, one in 20 people find the holiday season more stressful than a burglary.
And over half of Britons drink an alcoholic beverage before lunch on Christmas Day to help manage stress.
Psychological stress can also have a major impact on the body by increasing levels of the hormone cortisol, which is part of the human “fight-or-flight” response.
Andrea Rivers, behavioral expert and health coach at weight loss app Noom, explains how Christmas stress can affect our bodies…
1. giving and receiving
Like it or not, giving and receiving gifts during the holiday season is a tradition that goes nowhere.
For some, the pressure of producing gifts on the big day can be particularly stressful.
Andrea said: “The stress of taking the time to shop, the feeling of having to meet a recipient’s gift expectations and the financial demands of buying many gifts at once can be overwhelming and come from gatherings and celebrating the distracting togetherness.
“This stress can also manifest itself physically.
“You may feel overwhelmed when shopping for gifts, which puts a strain on your cardiovascular system, noting an increase in your heart rate, muscle tension and irritability.”
2. christmas dinner
A big part of Christmas revolves around eating and drinking treats that we might think twice about any other day.
These tasty additives can wreak havoc on your body and make you feel a little down.
According to Andrea, your food choices during the holidays “can directly affect things like your sleep routine, energy levels, and inflammation.”
In some cases, inflammation can be good for the body, especially when you’re injured or ill. In this case, inflammation can help your body fight off disease.
On the other hand, chronic, ongoing inflammation is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Andrea said: “You tend to be less active during the season, so take small steps like parking the car further away in the supermarket car park or making it a priority to go for a walk with friends or family after a long meal helps you stay a little more active and energized.”
3. accommodate family and friends
This is the time of year when families and friends usually get together – happily or not.
“And while it can be a fun experience, for many it’s also challenging because of things like planning, time management and different family dynamics,” Andrea said.
Almost half (44%) of Britons admit they had a fight with their significant other on Christmas Day over how to cook the holiday feast, according to a new study by home appliance brand Hotpoint.
“The added pressure of all of these things can lead to poor sleep hygiene and brain fog, as well as feelings of worry and stress about how to sustain a peaceful Christmas celebration.
“Shut off that stress as best you can by trying to maintain some of your routine and setting boundaries over the holidays — enjoy the time together, but go to bed at a reasonable time.”
4. party time
Whether it’s the free-flowing booze and bottomless mince pies at company parties or the countless Christmas dinners and celebratory nights out with friends, party season can be a lot of fun.
But nasty bugs and viruses also thrive this time of year when everyone is indoors and getting extra close.
Andrea said, “Protect yourself by getting plenty of vitamin C and maintaining your sleep and exercise routines.”
Social gatherings can also be stressful for some people.
Andrea said: “To manage your Christmas party schedule, set boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no or avoid holiday gatherings that might not excite you or that might worry your plate.
“Limit your alcohol consumption at parties – although it can take the edge off initially, alcohol is a depressant and can lead to hangovers, low mood and energy in the days that follow.”
5. managing loneliness
This time of year can also be a time of loneliness and isolation, and the lack of social connections can feel exacerbated.
Andrea said: “Loneliness can lead to additional feelings of stress, sadness and low spirits during the holiday season.”
It’s important to acknowledge how you’re feeling and find ways to manage it so as not to compromise your health and mental well-being.
Andrea said: “Consider volunteering your time back or look for community events to attend.
“Find out if any of your friends or co-workers are also spending the holidays alone and plan to spend them together.”
https://www.the-sun.com/health/6983887/christmas-stress-body-mind/ I’m a health coach – here’s 5 ways the stress of Christmas is harming your health