It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: family dinners, gift exchanges, and unfortunate stress-related conditions that may cause some of us to lose sight of what this time of the year really means.
For most of us, we‘re waking up early in the morning to juggle work and life—shopping for the best sales, managing family schedules, firing off emails and rushing to complete projects before the celebration begins. So, Black Enterprise caught up with Vanessa Cunningham, a health wellness expert and founder of Unhealthy No More who helps busy professionals reduce stress, banish unhealthy cravings, lose weight and increase their energy levels. She shares valuable insight on recognizing the signs of holiday stress.
BlackEnterprise.com: How can someone avoid stress?
Vanessa Cunningham: Let’s face it; if you’re living in the 21st century, stress inevitable. You experience stress in your everyday life from working in fast-paced environments, working long hours, family life, and the list goes on. Although stress is seen in a negative light, it’s actually essential for everyday living. Stress reactions are triggered whether you are being chased down by a dog or excited about a job promotion. The area of concern is chronic stress.
Holiday Stress Tip: During the holiday, manage your expectations. As Health.com reports, take time to focus on what is realistic not ideal—or you risk facing major disappointment when things don’t go as planned.
What are some of the warning signs of stress?
Adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a classic sign that most people miss. You may brush it off as you just needing an energy drink to perk up. As the name suggests you will be fatigued, but not short-term. You will be tired all the time no matter what you do. Drinking coffee or whatever you want, won’t work unless you manage your stress and take care of your body.
Holiday Stress Tip: According to Dr. Oz. “A full night of sleep is excellent medicine.” So, make sleep a priority.
Weight Gain. During high stress periods, you are more inclined to reach for things like donuts, chocolate cookies, muffins, in order to fulfill an emotional need. Why? High carb foods trigger the brain to release serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. So when you indulge, your mood is temporarily elevated and helps you to feel better emotionally. Other factors such as stress related insomnia could result in an increased appetite and sugar cravings.
Holiday Stress Tip: Try planning ahead for the splurge, so you can indulge without derailing your diet.
Emotional Distress. When your personality changes, that’s when you know it’s gotten real bad. Stress leads to depression and emotional mood swings. If you are stressed out at work, you are likely to carry it home and it can disrupt your family life. Or vice versa. It can also manifest in your relationships with your friends. You may become more isolated or extremely short-tempered with them. Instead of seeking love and support, you believe being alone is a better solution.
Tip: Now is the perfect time of year to ask for help when you need it. Get your children and/or loved ones involved with planning and executing your events and activities. But, seek professional help if you need it.
Happy Holidays! You have one life to live and you should enjoy it!