The holidays are a time to get together with loved ones, share a few meals and embrace togetherness. But standing in mall line-ups, spending all day in the kitchen cooking, and trying to ensure you have the most perfect holiday season ever can turn you into a festive ball of stress!
In theory, the holidays are meant to be a fun and happy time of year, but we all know that hosting, shopping and running house-to-house to see everyone can be more stressful than enjoyable. If anything, the most stress-free part of the holidays is actually when they’re over.
We know that stress is harmful to our health and because the holidays are a crazy time the stress can quickly add up. Unfortunately, holiday stress can wreak havoc on your heart – especially if you’re a woman.
Contributing factors of Holiday Blues or Holiday Stress
Factors that may contribute to the holiday blues include:
- Not feeling included by others
- Reflecting on previous losses or disappointments
- Binge drinking more alcohol or doing recreational drugs
- Associating the holidays with a painful childhood or unresolved family issues
- Putting on an ingenuine attitude for the sake of holiday cheer, Ignoring feelings of sadness, loneliness, or depression
- Memories of a lost one during events with family or friends
- Having unrealistic expectations of family and friends
Holiday stress hurts your heart health
When it comes to the holidays, women often take on the role of ‘hostess with the mostest.’ From heading out to purchase gift to cooking to planning with friends and family, women take on an especially huge burden around this time of year.
Expert and cardiologist, Dr. Karla Kurrelmeyer, said in a news release, “We have seen more than a few cases of stress-induced cardiomyopathy around the holidays. This occurs when women are under great amounts of stress for a short period of time and that stress is compounded with another traumatic event, such as a death in the family, a car accident, loss of money, etc. If it is ignored, it can be fatal.”
Stress-induced cardiomyopathy occurs when cortisol – the stress hormone – weakens the left ventricle of the heart – the heart’s main pumping chamber. This condition is most common in women in their 50s to 70s.
Dr. Kurrelmeyer added, “Someone experiencing this condition might develop chest pains or shortness of breath after severe stress, either emotional or physical. In most cases, it is treated with medication such as beta blockers or ACE inhibitors. It’s important to have an echocardiogram as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms.”
It is quite common to see a spike in blood pressure during the holiday season, which increases the risk of chest pains, heart palpitations and even stroke. Furthermore, if a person already has a history of high blood pressure, they should be watched more attentively during times of high stress.
Also read: High cortisol: Symptoms and signs to look out for
Tips to reduce stress during the holidays
We all dream of that perfect holiday dinner where not a single thing goes wrong. Unfortunately, in reality something is bound to go wrong, but how you react to it can determine your stress and the safety of your heart. Here are some pointers to get through the holiday season with minimal stress and with a healthier heart.
- Accept that not everything is perfect – having high expectations and expecting perfection is unrealistic and stressful on its own. Being realistic with yourself can help curb stress.
- Get as much sunlight as possible – with more darkness our mood can take a hit. Getting some more sun rays can help alleviate mood, and thus help us manage stress better.
- Get proper sleep.
- Eat healthy.
- Exercise regularly.
- Stick with your daily routine.
- Do your shopping during “low times” – many shopping centers have extended hours, so if you don’t mind going in earlier or later, you can steer clear of large crowds. Also, avoid shopping centers on the weekends when the majority of people go.
- Meditate or try yoga.
- Take time out for yourself.
- Don’t overschedule yourself and learn to say “no.”
- Strengthen social connections – friends and family can provide a positive supportive relationship
- Start conversations about the holiday season – a great icebreaker to make new friends
- Plan family get-togethers
- Go holiday shopping
- Avoid overeating and over drinking of alcoholic beverages
By following these tips you can help reduce your stress during the holiday season and ensure your heart doesn’t take a beating in the meantime.[adstoappear]