For us, Halloween marks the beginning of the period of the year known as “the holidays.” If you’re anything like us, that means celebrations, parties, extra large grocery lists, long hours shopping for the perfect gift, and a general jump in our levels of “busyness.”
But it’s important to find time to relax during the holidays, especially if you’re dealing with a chronic illness. Read on to find out why as well as to find a few tips on how to actually do it!
Why Stress is Bad for You
In short, what we call stress is a biological response to what we perceive as a threat. Our ancestors might have experienced stress about a surprise bear attack, but for us it’s often something like a deadline or scrambling to get the house ready for company.
You may have heard this called the “fight or flight” response. When we perceive a threat, our adrenal glands release the hormones epinephrine (a.k.a adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These hormones in turn cause an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate, faster breathing, and increased blood flow to the muscles.
If you need to hightail it away from a bear, this is great. Unfortunately, if we’re constantly feeling stressed in our lives, what that stress response means is constant higher blood pressure, pulse rate, breath rate, and increased inflammation.
Why Relaxation is Important
On the flip side of things, training our minds and bodies to relax can lead to major health benefits, like reversal of all the bad symptoms above as well as an improvement in mood (and who doesn’t want to be in a good mood during the holidays? While staying stressed can exacerbate chronic illness and lead to longterm poor health, reducing stress is the road toward better control of your chronic illness and better health in general.
Other benefits of relaxation? How about these:
- Reduction of muscle tension
- Alleviation of pain
- Improved concentration
- Reduced fatigue
- Reduced anger and frustration
- Improved confidence
How to Reduce Stress and Relax During the Holidays
So what’s the solution? Relax! But we know that’s easier said than done. But if you use these tips throughout the coming months, and you’ll feel better.
Try the “relaxation response” method. This method, created by Harvard physician Herbert Benson in the 1970s, attempts to train our bodies to react with the opposite reaction to stress. This form of meditation involves sitting quietly with your eyes closed for up to 20 minutes (shoot for at least 10 if you can, though any time at all is better than none) in a distraction-free environment. Silently repeat a peace-inducing word, phrase or affirmation while focusing on relaxing all muscles, beginning with your feet and working upwards.
Set aside time for an activity you enjoy. Whether that’s a long bath, taking in a movie, or settling in with a good book, make sure you set aside time at least once a week to enjoy some downtime doing something you love.
Get active. Even if it’s just taking a walk around the block, getting fresh air and some sunshine (even if it’s cloudy, you’ll still benefit from Vitamin D synthesis), getting in some activity will work wonders for your mood and your body, thanks to the release of endorphins.
Try Infusion Express for a Relaxing Alternative for IV Therapy
There’s nothing relaxing about dealing with a chronic illness during the holidays, but receiving treatment can be a different story altogether at Infusion Express. We offer appointments that fit your schedule (days, evenings and weekends) in a spa-like environment custom-designed to help you actually enjoy your time while receiving treatment. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some time to yourself or give the relaxation response method a try!
If you’re ready to experience the difference, give us a call at either of our two convenient locations in Lee’s Summit at 816-272-0174 or Overland Park at 913-948-2020. We look forward to helping you live a healthier, more satisfying life during the holidays and beyond.