By WIN Contributor: Dr. Nicholas Slowinski, Chiropractor
We all feel some version of the holiday rush, whether it be the hustle and bustle of the shopping malls, last minute gift buying, late nights, early mornings... and don’t forget about that midnight wrapping you’ve procrastinated about. Lets face it; the holidays can be stressful times!
Good stress is stress that motivates, or provides incentive to get the job done! This is something that you often enjoy, makes us feel happy, motivated, and productive such as regular exercise. Bad stress is what results when we don't tolerate a stressor.
This is when we feel the tension, the pressure is on and we can’t seem to get away from it! It's when this happens that we can feel much more complicated feelings of anxiety due to holiday stress. Here are some strategies to keep stress levels in check this holiday season.
Now it is no secret that exercise is good for us. Physical activity causes a release in our body’s natural feel good hormones, neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Often referred to as the runners high this feeling can be brought on by a number of physical activities.
When we're focused on an exercise regime the day’s irritations are often forgotten while focused in the moment. This helps us be more focused when we switch to a specific task.
Exercise improves our mood as well. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule can help boost self-confidence and lower symptoms of stress and anxiety. Most people feel more relaxed post workout, which can help improve sleep and ease those feelings of stress and anxiety even further (stay tuned for future blogs on sleep).
Although exercise is well known by all to help, it can be tough to get to the gym this time of year. Keep reading for more stress neutralizing options if this is the case...
Now for those who are too busy to get to the gym, meditation might be a very helpful alternative. Meditation can help reduce stress levels by allowing us to take charge of our thoughts, mitigate emotions and allow us to experience the present moment. People who mediate often report having increased levels of concentration, increased self-awareness, and are generally happier.
Recent studies show that regular meditation has beneficial effects of the cardiovascular and immune systems, meaning people are physically healthier as well. Meditation is arguably as good for you as regular exercise, however you’re just using a different set of muscles. Mediation can be done anywhere at any time and requires no equipment…
...but how does one begin a meditation practice? The best answer to this is to find a method that works for you! With today’s technology, beginning a meditation practice is easier then ever! There are plenty of downloadable aps that you can find to help you along your path. Some suggested favourites are the following:
· Stop, think and breath
Each of these apps offer guidance through a series of meditative exercises to help participants achieve the beneficial effects of meditation at their own pace. The best part is they are free! If you want to learn more about the benefits of meditation or where to start check out the following links.
Although meditation and exercise are extremely beneficial they still may not fit into your lifestyle, especially at this time of year. When things are hectic we might not have the ability to stop and meditate quietly for 10 minutes, and if that’s the case we certainly can’t afford the time to get exercise in. However all hope is not lost, as "grounding" is a highly effective technique that can be done on the fly requiring only seconds of time!
Similar to meditation grounding allows us to redirect those overwhelming feelings and center ourselves on the task at hand. Although the concept of grounding is somewhat difficult to grasp, a simple analogy that can be used is a tree. Just as a tree roots itself deeply into the ground during good weather, these roots (grounding techniques) make it difficult for any storm (stress/anxiety) to blow the tree over. For more information on how to use grounding techniques in your day-to-day life check out the following article.
Although the holidays may be a stressful time, we are not without any tools to handle these situations. Hopefully if your feeling some added seasonal pressure these strategies will help you enjoy your holiday to the fullest. On behalf or myself and WIN Health, I wish you a Happy Holidays!