- Sleep! There's no better antidote to stress than sleep-and that's one
of the essentials that we sacrifice during the holidays. When the holidays
are over, give yourself the gift of a regular sleep schedule with an earlier
bedtime if possible.
- Detox! One of the downsides of the holiday season is that too many of us
tend to overindulge in alcohol and some are still smoking. If you smoke,
now's the time to commit to that New Year's resolution to stop. Smoking actually
exaggerates your body's response to stress and inhibits the body's ability
to handle it. Excess alcohol, even in the short term, can have negative effects
on the liver. If you've overindulged in the past month, January is a good
time to cut way back.
- Eat a balanced diet! Be sure to include 5 servings of fruits and veggies
per day and don't skip the protein! If you want to cut calories, focus
on the carbs. This will give you more energy as well. Don't skip
breakfast! (Coffee and a roll on the run don't count.)
- Drink water! Aim for 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. This is not
only very good for many of your bodily functions, but is a great substitute
for other beverages containing sugar or caffeine, which can contribute to
your feelings of being overstressed or anxious.
- Take your vitamins! While most women can benefit from a daily multi-vitamin
and calcium supplementation, the B-complex vitamins have been shown to help
combat stress of various sorts, including PMS. Antioxidants and especially
Vitamin C are not only great stress-busters, but may also be helpful in preventing
- Exercise! Exercise may be an important part of your New Year's resolutions
for many reasons, but you can't beat the value of exercise for reducing stress.
Stress increases your adrenaline and cortisol levels and if you don't exercise,
you have no other way to "use up" these excess hormones in your system. Any
activity that causes your heart rate to be elevated for 20 minutes or more
is a bonus, whether it's vigorous walking, shoveling snow, aerobics class,
- Put your needs back on the top of the list. Identify any self-care pleasures
or tasks that were neglected during the holiday season and make them a priority,
whether it is an overdue manicure, a massage, or a doctor's appointment.
- Have fun! Watch some children playing if you need ideas. Many fun things
to do have exercise components (playing in the snow, ice skating, or jumping
on a trampoline); many are peaceful and relaxing (reading a great book, taking
a long hot bath, or scrap-booking).
- Laugh! Laughter is said to be the best medicine and it's particularly good
for reducing stress. Laughing alone is fine; laughing with a friend is even
- Hug someone! Physical closeness and intimacy are a great way to reduce
stress. Too often we let ourselves get socially isolated at the most social
times! Now is a great time to de-stress by reconnecting with those in your
innermost circle. And don't forget to hug yourself at least once a day.
Created: 12/27/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.