Many people feel more stressed than usual during, and even after, the holidays. Expectations, calories and family tensions can run high while time and patience may be in short supply. Not only does stress affect our experiences—it impacts us physically as well.
The human body views stress as a threat to its survival. In response to this real or perceived threat, the body releases more than 1,400 chemicals internally. The effects of these chemicals circulating through your body include: increased fatigue and muscle tension; compromised thinking, memory and problem-solving; increased production of cortisol, a stress hormone; increased fat production around the waist; and decreased levels of circulating immune cells. With all of that going on inside our bodies, it’s no wonder we don’t feel well when we’re over-stressed!
The good news is that there are many things we can do to counteract and reduce stress. Here are some of the most powerful practices we can build into our day-to-day lives to promote health and well-being in the New Year:
- Sit quietly and breathe deeply.
- Practice mindfulness, focusing on the present moment.
- Connect with supportive, caring people.
- Take time to play and do the things you love.
- Enjoy hearty laughter as often as possible.
- Find something daily for which to be grateful.
- Nurture your body by staying hydrated, stretching, getting a massage, soaking in the tub, catching a power nap or going for a walk.
- Treat yourself with as much love and kindness as you would treat your best friend. You deserve it!
Unfortunately, there are going to be stressful moments in life—the joy of being human. When you understand why you feel like you do when you’re stressed, you can take proactive steps to bring your mind and body back into harmony.
Learn about how mind-body medicine can help you manage stress during cancer treatment.