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Health and the holidays: How to manage stress

The holiday season is meant to be a joyful time of year. Unfortunately, hosting family get-togethers and the pressure of finding that perfect gift can result in unneeded stress.

Our bodies tend to know better than we do and give off warning signs of when stress is setting in.

“Fatigue, lack of energy or feeling of not being motivated, decreased or difficulty focusing on task at hand and increasing forgetfulness can all be signs that you are stressed out,” APRN Rana Burnside said. “Other physical symptoms can often include nagging headaches, mild heartburn or an upset stomach.”

When you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, Rana recommends taking a time-out.

“Step away from the situation that is triggering your stressful sensations,” she said. “Close your eyes and concentrate on taking slower, deeper breaths.”

People tend to set high expectations for themselves- often so high that they can’t be met. This can increase one’s stress. Try listening to relaxing or upbeat holiday music and set aside time for yourself and activities you enjoy.

During the holidays, it is easy to get caught up in the season and say “yes” to every invitation one receives. Remember, it is okay to say “no” and set boundaries for yourself.

Try to enjoy the simple things, whether that is the glow of Christmas lights, the smell of cookies baking or watching your favorite holiday movie. Try to find time to exercise, stay hydrated and eat foods that will help increase energy and overall health.

Stress can be managed, but sometimes it can become overwhelming and result in a panic attack. Rana describes a panic attack as a sudden sensation of feeling extremely overwhelmed, inability to focus, sense of pending doom or the feeling that the world is closing in on you. Often, it includes a sudden onset of rapid breathing and/or rapid heartrate. One may also break out in cold sweats or tingling around the mouth and face.

If someone you know experiences panic attacks, it is important to provide emotional support, but know that you cannot be a rock at all times---even rocks crack and crumble. You must also take care of yourself.

“Offer to assist them in tasks that may be weighing them down and encourage them to take moments to relax while you pick up the slack and plan distractions, such as taking a drive through a neighborhood to view Christmas lights while listening to Christmas music,” Rana suggested. “Whatever you do, try to help them maintain a calmer, quieter environment.”

NARMC wishes you and your family a happy, stress-free holiday season!

Rana Burnside, APRN, practices at NARMC’s Woman’s Health and Family Center alongside Stephanie Mallett, APRN. The center not only focuses on women’s healthcare, but also meets the needs of the entire family. Both are currently accepting new patients and can typically see a new patient the same day they call. For an appointment, call 870-741-0249.

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No information or content on this website is to be taken as implicit or explicit advice. Please contact a medical professional for guidance.

Photos on this website are provided by Vowell Publishing, Inc. and NARMC.

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