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Post-Holiday De-Stressing

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.)

  4. 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.

  5. 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 certain illnesses.

  6. 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, or dancing.

  7. 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.

  8. 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).

  9. 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 better.

  10. 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.

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