The holiday season can bring mixed emotions for many. For some, it’s their favorite time of year. For others, it brings feelings of sadness and loss. Seeing old friends and family members may be exciting or may bring up memories of disappointments.
Ideally this “most wonderful time of the year” should be a relaxing time meant for spending time with friends and family as a way to reflect back on the year. In reality however, the holidays come filled with stress of all varieties. There are work, family, and friend obligations that all need attention and in the end the holidays can feel more like a burden than a chance to recuperate.
How Stress Impacts Our Immunity
Ongoing stress makes us susceptible to illness and disease because the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases an array of hormones that not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time.
Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The way it does this is by triggering chemical reactions and flooding the body with cortisol that, among other things, decreases inflammation, decreases white blood cells and NK cells (special cells that kill cancer), increases tumor development and growth, and increases the rate of infection and tissue damage.
The main types of immune cells are white blood cells. There are two types of white blood cells – lymphocytes and phagocytes.
When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections.
The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).
Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking.
Stress is linked to: headaches; infectious illness (e.g. ‘flu); cardiovascular disease; diabetes, asthma and gastric ulcers.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, there are healthy, natural ways to deal with stress.
They include exercise, a good diet and a support group that allows you the ability to laugh and cry – to be yourself.
Nutrients To Help You Cope
Below we have 10 tips to beat the holiday blues, but from a nutritional perspective, we formulated Stress-Eze to naturally assist your body without being addictive like prescription antidepressant drugs.
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Remember… More than 30 million Americans take medication to treat depression, but for most people, antidepressants serve mostly as a placebo, scientists now say.
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“I have been depressed for about 2 years and did not want to take antidepressants so I went looking for a good supplement. At first I was hit and miss taking the Stress-Eze and it helped some. About a month ago I decided to be strict with taking Stress-Eze as directed in the morning and at night. WOW what a difference. I am laughing more and my energy is up as well as my moods. I am so much better at handling stress as well. What a relief to know I can take something natural rather than putting the conventional meds in my body.” – Club Member from Iowa
Here are some tips to beat the holiday blues
1. Keep your regular routine.
A change in routine can lead to additional stress. Try to exercise at your usual time, go to meetings that you normally go to, and stick to as normal a diet as you possibly can.
2. Think moderation.
While it may be easy to drink and eat too much at parties and special dinners, we should try not to overindulge with food and/or alcohol. Remember, eating and drinking may feel like they temporarily “ease the pain” of the holiday blues, but they can also lead to feelings of guilt
3. Be realistic, and try not to expect the “ideal” holiday.
So many of us have an idealized version of what the holidays should be like and are very disappointed when they don’t live up to those expectations. Try to be realistic. Remember, nobody has a perfect holiday or perfect family.
4. Stay connected.
Make sure to leave time to spend with friends and/or family who value you. And if they don’t live close by, call them for a “reality check” or some “grounding.” Remember to ask for support if you need it.
5. Throw guilt out the window.
Try not to put unreasonable pressure on yourself to be happy, to rejoice, or even to enjoy the holidays. Likewise, try not to overanalyze your interactions with others. Give yourself a break this holiday season.
6. Don’t be alone, if you don’t want to be.
If you anticipate spending the holidays alone, try to volunteer somewhere, like in a soup kitchen, with children in group homes, or the elderly in various facilities. People will so appreciate you that you may feel better about yourself, but more imporantly, you’ll have company.
7. Focus on today, not yesterday.
There’s something about being with family and old friends that makes us become who we were and not who we are. When you find yourself reverting to old childhood patterns with family members, try to walk away for a minute and remember who you are now. Also remember that it’s not necessary to play the same role as you did when you were younger, even if others are encouraging you to do so by their behaviors. If there is someone at the get-together who knows what you are like today, make sure to reach out to them and draw them into the interactions. That will help to ground you.
8. Just say no.
It’s OK to say no when you’re asked to do more than you can. It’s fine to say no to some invitations and fine to say no to those asking for favors. Remember, this is your holiday too!
9. Ask for help.
Holidays are often a time people attempt to take on too much or do too much on their own. It’s OK to ask for help from family and friends. Whether for decorating, shopping, cooking, or a shoulder to lean on, ASK.
10. Be good to yourself.
If you’re feeling blue, pamper yourself. Do what feels good, and what you want to do. Try to take a walk or spend time alone, if that’s what you want. Remember, this is your holiday too, and you can be there for yourself just like you try to be for everyone else.
The holidays only come once a year and only last for a few weeks. If you follow these 10 tips, you might just find this year to be more joyful and less stressful. Don’t forget your Stress-Eze as well.