DR. WENDY CUNNINGHAM: Managing holiday stress and anxiety

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While the holidays meant to be a joyful time of year, they can also bring on additional stress from extra obligations, entertaining, planning, and increased spending, all of which can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Here is some advice that will help you strengthen your nervous system and improve your ability to manage stress during the holiday season.

Get regular exercise. Exercise relieves stress in many ways, including helping to regulate adrenaline and cortisol, two of our body’s main stress-related hormones. It has also been shown to help us sleep better. Ideally, 20 to 30 minutes of cardio at your target heart rate three times a week is a healthy goal. Stretching and yoga can also be deeply relaxing to the body and mind.

Drink green tea. It is a great antioxidant (up to 200 times more powerful than vitamins A, C or E), and green tea is also a rich source of L-theanine, a unique calming and relaxing amino acid. L-theanine has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to directly affect the central nervous system. Theanine has been shown to promote production of brain waves associated with a state of calm, relaxed alertness, much like meditation. Theanine works in a synergistic fashion with caffeine in green tea to improve cognition and uplift mood, while countering caffeine’s stimulating effects.

Look for herbal supplements that contain adaptogens. Adaptogens help to strengthen and regulate the body’s major stress network, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Herbs such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Eleuthero and Holy Basil support the production and communication of hormones and neurotransmitters within the HPA. This helps us maintain a sense of calm and balance, and keep our energy levels even and sustained.

See a holistic practitioner to improve the mind/body connection. Chiropractic adjustments, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, and massage can all be helpful to improve the way the body deals with stress and anxiety.

It is also helpful to minimize the stress in your life where you can. Do not overcommit yourself. Overcommitting can create stress and anxiety, and take the joy out of the holiday season. Take time to set up your calendar and mark the days you can commit to events. Make sure you schedule exercise and downtime to recharge and restore.

Do not overindulge or overspend. Whether it’s sugary foods, alcohol, staying up too late, or a shopping spree, overindulging will lead to increased stress in your life. Healthy nutrition, a good sleep schedule, and plenty of water will help keep you healthy. Set a budget to prevent the anxiety that comes from spending too much money.

Adding even a few of these tips will help you manage stress, reduce anxiety, and enjoy the holiday season more fully! Even during the holiday season, you have to be sure that you take time to care for yourself.

For more information on natural ways to manage stress and anxiety, contact Dr. Wendy at haydenhealth@gmail.com.

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