This year will probably be taking holiday stress to a whole new level. Millions of us feel elevated stress and anxiety levels during the holidays because we spend time with family members that can trigger our anxieties, increase our stress levels, or just because we feel overwhelmed with family obligations. This year many of us won’t be able to spend time with family, causing a completely different kind of stress and anxiety.
Your stress and anxiety levels have never been more important. Chronic stress and anxiety can aggravate existing pain and other health issues, cause insomnia, weight gain, and weaken our immune systems. Did you hear that? Chronic stress and anxiety can weaken your immune system. At a time when we can least afford a weakened immune system.
We can’t eliminate all of our stressors or triggers for anxiety, but we can learn to better manage them, and feeling like you can take some control over it is empowering. So let’s talk about how to do that.
Gratitude: It sounds simplistic, but research has shown that expressing gratitude daily and consistently can really help shift your mind set and calm your body. Make it a daily habit. There’s a book called The Magic, by Rhonda Byrnes that walks you through 28 days of different ways to express gratitude to help you get into the habit of gratitude. I try to start and end each day by thinking of at least one thing I’m grateful for, and whenever I feel my mood slipping, I have made it a habit to stop, and think of something I’m grateful for. As silly as it may seem, it can be a quick way to stop yourself from diving down the rabbit hole of a bad attitude.
Exercise: Some of you love exercise and staying fit, and for others it’s like torture. Whichever category you are in, it’s important to find ways to stay active and make it fun. Take walks. Dance when no one is around. Try different types of fitness using YouTube videos. Join a virtual fitness class. And don’t get bored with it. Switch it up regularly! Exercise helps release the adrenaline we build up during stress/anxiety. If not being able to do your normal fitness routine during the pandemic is causing stress, try the other suggestions in this article to help you reframe the situation and stay a little calmer. Try to look at it as a challenge and start thinking outside the box. And if you have taken classes or worked with a trainer, don’t forget to ask them for suggestions on how to maintain a new fitness routine under the current conditions.
Acupuncture and Acupressure: Acupuncture is very effective at better managing stress and anxiety, which is why I ran a free acupuncture clinic treating anxiety and trauma for more than 4 years. If you’re dealing with increased stress and anxiety and you need help, please reach out. And if you’re interested in learning how you can use acupressure at home to help, just let me know next time you’re in for treatment. I’d be happy to teach you acupressure points for your specific concerns.
Essential Oils: Essential oils have been around for thousands of years, and they too, are very effective at helping calm and regulate emotions. There are too many essential oils that help with stress and anxiety to list them all, but here’s a start: lavender, bergamot, orange, frankincense, and there are many essential oil blends to help reduce stress and anxiety that you can use. In our office we have Calm Spirit in stock, which is a wonderful blend made to help reduce stress and anxiety. These work wonderfully in a diffuser, or applied topically. Not sure how to use them? Ask me the next time you’re in the office! Also, after the first of the year I’ll be teaching an online class on the safe and effective use of essential oils for all kinds of health concerns, including stress and anxiety.
Mediation: Meditation is mentioned so often it’s almost become a cliché, but it works. And it doesn’t need special training, or mean you need to devote large chunks of time each day. Even 5 minutes done consistently each day can make a difference! There are tons of free YouTube videos for guided meditation that are a great way to start. There are also a lot of apps for your devices, and most allow you to choose an amount of time for your meditation, and to choose ones that apply best to your situation, including stress and anxiety. Try a few, see what you like, and change it up regularly. It’s not the amount of time you spend on the mediation, it’s doing it consistently that really makes the difference.
There are a lot of options out there to help you through this difficult time. We’re all more stressed than usual, and for those of you who were already dealing with anxiety, you’re not alone. Please. If you are feeling overwhelmed and it is affecting your ability to function, come in to see us. Treating stress and anxiety is a special passion for us.