Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Stress and Peace

The holiday season is here again and we are once again full of the yearly hustle and bustle of the season. Shopping for the perfect gift, visiting with family and a full social calendar are only a few of the realities of this time of year. It can be a time of great excitement but also a time of dread. Buying the perfect gift is not so fun when money is short. Visiting family can be painful when the family dysfunction arrives and quarreling and bickering arise. And, social events are not particularly festive when we run ourselves ragged in the rush.

So what to do?

Well, one intervention is to take good care of yourself. If you have not done so, and your doctor agrees, get your flu vaccine. Being around crowds of people while out in malls, church activities and children’s recitals increases your risk of becoming ill and flu season is upon us. Another self-care thing to for is to eat well. Avoid fast food and skipping meals. Plan your activities around meals so that you eat healthy food. If prepared at home, it is usually more economical. And, of course, wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs.

If finances are tight, consider a family gift to a shelter or pick a child’s name from an angel tree. Home made gifts from the heart are, as advertisers remind us, priceless. And remember, the true meaning of the season is a message of hope, joy and love. None of these require a credit card or falling into debt.

What do you do though if life becomes too stressful?

First, know your signs of stress and if you are a parent, become aware of your children’s too. At this time of year children can become overwhelmed by all of the stimulation and appear to be misbehaving when they are actually frustrated, over stressed and exhausted. This can occur even when riding in a stroller. Adults misbehave in countless ways, too.

Over stressed behaviors include an increase or decrease in energy. Irritability, outbursts of anger and arguing can be present when someone is overwhelmed. Some people have trouble sleeping or relaxing. Blaming and shaming others can also be a sign of being inundated by life stressors as can negativity. Not being able to have fun or for that matter, having trouble feeling anything anything is also a sign of serious stress. Problems with thinking can occur with some people reporting difficulty-remembering things, having difficulty making decisions and being confused. These can all be signs that your stress levels are too high. Think about how many times you have lost your keys the morning you are late for work!

Our bodies also can speak to us about our stress levels. Unfortunately, we can wait too long to listen and find ourselves physically ill with stomachaches, gastrointestinal distress, altered appetite, and/or getting headaches and other pains. In addition to stress, drinking too much caffeine to keep up with the rush can result in tremors and muscle twitches, Drinking alcohol to relax can also stress the body. Having water is a better choice when keeping up with holiday demands.

Keep yourself healthy and practice PEACE

·Prepare snacks and other healthy foods ahead of time to deter unhealthy eating. Eat a snack before parties to keep hunger at bay and to help you avoid high calorie party foods.

·Exercise daily. Parking your car at the edge of the parking lot or walking to your destination is one way of walking off some anxious energy.

·Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine. Never drink alcohol and drive. You do not want holiday memories to be tragic ones.

·Connect with your source of spiritual renewal through meditation, prayer, and helping others in need.

·Experience the joy of the holiday by being kind to yourself. Get plenty of rest, and avoid excessive demands. Remember, every day is an opportunity to celebrate the gift that is you!

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.