Friday, December 9, 2016

My Recipe for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Gwinnett Citizen December 2016

Dear Sister Knowitall,
Can I avoid the stress and anxiety I feel during the holidays?  I want to be present and enjoy time with friends and family. Sometimes I really just want to hop on the Polar Express and run away for the holidays.   ~Sincerely;  Mental Leedone

Dear Mental Leedone,          
Ah the time of year for peace on earth and joy to the world right?  For many of us it is anything but.  We have two opposing hormones working in our bodies based on how we react to life. Cortisol the fight or flight, stress hormone. Oxytocin the comfort and trust, love hormone. To get stress-free it makes logical sense to raise oxytocin and lower cortisol .  Oxytocin actually counters the effects of cortisol therefore, one might say that where there is love there can be no stress.  
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Here’s my recipe for a stress-free holiday.
Breathe  into the bottom of your lungs, count to 10.  Breathe out slowly.  Repeat 3-5 times.  Instant relaxation.  Try a deep yawn, exhale to release cortisol from your body. When that pesky auntie sends your peace of mind off the cliff, yawn. She’ll think you are bored and cortisol goes down.
Stop worrying about what other people think.  Do your best, then let  go. Those who matter know your heart. What other people think of you is none of your business anyway. 
Don’t sweat the small stuff. We all have our Christmas calamity stories.  If you have one of your own this year, laugh it off. Like the year I spilled Ambrosia all over my dad. It can be funny memory for years to come.
When we cuddle hug or kiss, we get a dose of  Oxytocin thus the nickname the love hormone.   Get under that mistletoe, grab your partner, here we go, give’em  a hug and dose-si-do.  No partner?  Call your mom, her voice releases similar levels as being in close proximity or a hug. You know that bear hug kind of friend? Seek them out this season. They are oxytocin inducer for sure.   
Enjoy an epsom salt and lavender bath. Lavender is an essential oil known for relaxation. Epsom salt  pull toxins from the body and relieves tension in achy muscles.
Sitting daily,  15-30 minutes,  in mediation or prayer can make a huge difference in your approach to life. We see things more clearly and it creates a sense of centeredness. Enjoy the calm of twinkling lights or glowing flames of your holiday decor.
Picking the right gift may stress us out but the joy of giving to those in need can’t be matched. Have an attitude of gratitude; Accept where we are in life.  Smile and you’ll get one back. Laughter and exercise increase endorphins that are released by your brain to make you feel good.
Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts? Coincidence?  Munch on Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate the Vitamin C in the strawberries fight free radicals, reduces cortisol and dark chocolate releases endorphins. Win win.
Singing offers feelings of pleasure again from endorphins. Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out.  Caroling anyone?

Save this link: . Enjoy pictures of babies, puppies and kittens to put a little love in your heart.