December is Stress Management Month

Submitted by Matthew Rosales, RN, MSN

When it comes to the holidays we always think of family, friends, fun and of course, food. For many people, the holidays can often be a stressful time. Stress in small amounts can be a good thing as it motivates you to perform well. However, if you have many daily challenges such as deadlines, paying bills, family matters and not knowing what to buy grandma for Christmas, it can easily push you beyond your limits.

No matter what causes you stress, it is helpful to prioritize your time, commitments and family activities, all of which help contribute to stress reduction. There is one thing that we all wish we could buy, and that is more time. If we had the ability to buy time, it would surely be on back order during the holiday season. How can you best manage your time during the holidays to reduce stress? Assess how you are spending your time and prioritize the items that are most important to you.

Ten Tips for Managing Stress

  1. Identify the sources of stress in your life. To identify your true sources of stress and the best methods for combating them, look closely at your habits, attitude and excuses. You can start a “Stress Journal” to keep a daily log of your stressors and how you managed them.
  2. Replace unhealthy coping strategies with healthy ones. If your methods of coping with stress are not contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it is time to find healthier ones. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
  3. Get moving. When you’re stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is getting up and exercising, but physical activity is a huge stress reliever—and you don’t have to be an athlete or spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. Exercise can also serve as a valuable distraction from your daily worries.
  4. Connect to others. One of the most calming activities is spending quality time with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. It can be easier to feel connected to people when disconnected from electronics.
  5. Make time for hobbies. You need to set aside time for things you enjoy. Try to do something every day that makes you feel good.
  6. Deep breathing. Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can immediately ease pressure.
  7. Eat well. Eating a regular, well-balanced diet will help you feel better and may help control moods. Quality of your food counts for extra points here too.
  8. Laugh. Dance. Sing. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles and also stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
  9. Slow Down. Modern life is so busy, and sometimes we just need to slow down. Look at your life and find small ways you can do that.
  10. Get outside. Fresh air can do wonders for your mood and sometimes a simple change of scenery will allow you to change your perspective.

If you sense that stress is hurting your health or causing physical symptoms, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns. Here at Summit Pacific Medical Center we strive to be an environment of care, where our focus is on your complete well-being.

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