Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Maybe you love the holidays – the food, the fun, the friends. Just because you’re looking forward to creating new memories, doesn’t mean it comes without the price of stress.
Anything that takes us out of our normal routine causes stress. Good stress is still stress and your body doesn’t really know the difference. Which is why it’s so important to learn to manage stress well. Notice I said manage and not avoid. Trying to avoid stress is, well, stressful.
Here are my three favorites methods for managing stress and helping to keep your immune system intact this holiday season.
Breathe. So easy. Yet, something we don’t do very well. Stop! Right now, take a deep breath. Now, take one more breath completely filling the lungs all the way down to the low belly, then slowly count down from 5 on the exhale. Can you remember the last time you did that? We were given two lungs for a reason, yet, we generally breathe with less than 20% of our full lung capacity. When we experience stress, we tend to breathe shallow and rapid and not deep. Rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. The “fight or flight” system. When we breathe deeply, we activate the parasympathetic system. The system that calms us down.
This week, when you see the house isn’t quite as clean as you would have liked or the turkey gets a little crispy or your brother forgets to check the propane level on the tank and it runs out in the middle of cooking the turkey – stop and breathe. Five deep breaths. Simple and yet, so effective.
Sleep! When you are under stress your body needs additional rest. Good self-honoring sleep. Sleep that tells you and your body you are worth it. This may seem impossible during the holidays, especially if you're traveling, but sometimes bringing a little bit of home with you can make all the difference.
My favorite way to get good sleep when I’m away is to keep my evening routine close to what it is at home. I bring my favorite tea bags, use all the same self-care products and supplements, bring my earplugs and even travel with my favorite pillow. Little acts like this really add up, keeping you in your routine and aid in getting good (or at least not bad) sleep.
There's no way to avoid stress, especially during the holidays, but when you learn to manage it in a healthy way, your immune system will thank you.
Until next time, be well friends!
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