It may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many, the holidays are also one of the most stressful. Between traveling, party planning, a hectic social calendar, searching for the perfect gifts, and strategizing how to avoid both awkward encounters with relatives and cookie binges, it can be easy to lose sight of the festive spirit. “We have unrealistic expectations imposed on us from the time we’re kids,” says Brian Clement, co-director of Hippocrates Health Institute. “Stressing about these factors only makes matters worse because it triggers our fight or flight response, raising our cortisol [a hormone that increases fat storage and affects memory] and testosterone levels.” In the long term, Clement points to the role stress plays in assailing the immune system and contributing to chronic diseases. “But even just visualizing well-being can reduce these effects,” he notes. “Find ways to make yourself happy and to get into the joyous spirit.” Here, he shares tips for combating holiday-induced stress. West Palm Beach (561-471-8876)
- Schedule workouts like any other social engagement appointment. The endorphins released during exercise thwart stress, so don’t make canceling an option.
- Spend quiet time by yourself. Step back from the hustle and bustle and take a walk or listen to music to keep your nervous system calm.
- Invest in authentic relationships. Make real conversations with family and friends a priority at gatherings. And write letters to loved ones, even those who may have passed.