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Julie Wilkinson, BSN, RN

Holiday Stress Busters

By December 14, 2012

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Wrapped candy

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If you're anything like me and find your ulcer erupting as people speak of "finishing up" their holiday shopping - and haven't even started - this blog is for you. A 2008 study in Copenhagen, Denmark showed definitively that women with stress have an increased risk of developing colon cancer. This season will pass - the gifts and cards will work themselves out - but the effects of the stress might be long lasting.

Kissing Stress Goodbye

Try these seven simple steps the next time you feel the holiday stress unraveling your fair mood:

  1. Take a deep breath. It's not a cliche, it's a true and tried method. When stress strikes, your nervous system speeds all of your bodily functions up - including your heart rate and breathing. By consciously slowing down the one function you can control - your breathing - you can effectively reset your stress response.
  2. Reframe the event. By this, I mean deciding if this is a life-threatening concern, or just something silly that can be brushed off. Forgetting to send off holiday cards or burning Santa's cookies can be laughed at later.
  3. Do something nice for someone - this includes taking care of yourself.
  4. Stop and enjoy the beauty of the moment. That snowflake your son is trying to show you will melt quickly - the work on your laptop can wait a few minutes.
  5. Consider meditation. You don't have to dress in fancy robes, sit in the Lotus position or burn insence - meditation simply means turning off your brain for a few moments. At some point during the day - preferably not when you're driving or operating heavy machinery - let your mind wander and focus on everything but your stressors.
  6. Indulge in moderation. Healthy eating and living is as important this time of the year as any, but you don't have to exclude holiday traditional foods. The keyword is moderation; you can eat latkes, cookies, or whatever food your family traditions entail in small amounts.
  7. Spend time with those people you love. Even if they are hundreds of miles away, technology today is amazing - a phone can facilitate a face to face video chat or a simple, old-fashioned phone call can lift the spirits.
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