Posted by on December 7, 2015 - 2:11pm

Do you ever find yourself stressed during the holiday season? You're not alone! Research by Consumer Reports reveals that 90% of Americans suffer from at least one stressor during the holiday season. With December filled with increased cooking, traveling, and shopping, it's no surprise that this season can take a toll on our emotional systems. While stress is often easy to manage in the short-term, extended stress can cause one to become vulnerable to a myriad of serious health problems. For instance, stress affects one's breathing--whether one begins breathing faster, feeling shortness of breath, or hyperventilating--the respiratory system goes into over-drive. Over time, continued strain on this system can make one more susceptible to upper-respiratory infections. One's immune system is also threatened by long-term stress. Continued stress can leave one more susceptible to infection and skin conditions such as eczema, hives, and acne. Other health outcomes from prolonged stress can be found at WebMDBecause stress so greatly affects our emotional and physical health, it is necesseary to stay on top of stress during the holidays. Here are the four primary holiday stressors: cooking, travel, family, and work.Below are some strategies you can use to cope with each of the primary holiday stressors! 

Cooking: The pressure of cooking for large groups of people is an understandable pressure. Planning ahead and managing your time while cooking are your keys to de-stress in the kitchen. Here are a few tips to help keep your cool over the stove:

  • Write down the full menu from drinks to dessert.
  • Include one menu item that requires last-minute prep which others can help you prepare in the last 20-25 minutes of cooking.
  • Cook what you are comfortable cooking; do not overextend yourself.
  • Don't waste your time and energy stressing about the table decorations--sprucing up the table with a bowl of lemons, artichokes, or apples adds color and festivity while using items you already have at home.
  • Let others help you in the kitchen. Most people enjoy feeling useful, and it takes some of the pressure off of you.
  • Consider hosting a potluck dinner so every dish is not your responsibility.

Travel: The stress of packing and transporting yourself and loved ones from point A to point B is exacerbated by the fact that everyone else is also traveling--creating congestion, tension, and stress. Furthermore, stress is formed when you worry about things out of your control back home and on the road. Therefore, here's a list of things not to worry about while traveling:          

  • Your e-mail: You're on vacation, which means taking a break from the stressors of your inbox. Set up a default "away message" and plan to get home a day early to go through your inbox and to get back into your routine before returning to work. 
  • Keeping track of your itinerary: Planning is important, but if your planning becomes too involved with folders of information and papers, try using the TripIt app to compile your itinerary in one place.
  • Keeping your family entertained while traveling: Here's a list of 10 excellent games to play with your family in the car. Another idea is to rent a family-friendly book on tape from your local library to listen to while you drive.
Family: Everyone loves spending time with their family, but that doesn't mean there isn't stress involved. Here are some ways to manage familial stress: 
  • If children are involved in your holiday festivities, plan their activities first. Making sure the kids are occupied will help release the stress of planning activities for all ages.
  • Make sure there is time where nothing is scheduled or planned. Being spontaneous and having wiggle room in your schedule takes the pressure off of you to have every moment planned out.
  • Don't feel pressured to spend time with all your family on the specific holiday date. Especially if your family is located in many areas, it can be difficult and stressful to accommodate everyone's schedule. It's just as meaningful to spend time with family and friends on non-holiday days.
  • Start new traditions with your family. 
  • Communicate effectively with your family so everyone is aware of your expectations and limitations.
Work: Balancing your work and your home life is always challenging, but the holiday season often brings added pressures to complete tasks before the year ends. Here are some ideas to gracefully attend to your work needs while also allotting time to enjoy the season:
  • Prioritize your tasks. Listing your tasks in order of priority will help you focus on the most pressing projects first. Once time-sensitive items are out of the way, it is less stressful to focus on lower-item tasks.
  • Take a break. Allotting at least five minutes a day to stretch, take a walk, or grab a cup of coffee will rejuvenate you and enable you to stop the flow of stress hormones.
  • Delegate your responsibilities. Define your work boundaries and establish a reasonable list of things that do and do not fall under your jurisdiction. 
  • Eat vegetables and sleep normal hours. Keeping a healthy eating and sleeping routine will help keep your energy up at work and will increase your productivity and decrease your stress.


Posted by on December 2, 2014 - 2:49pm

Holiday celebrations lead to a bit of overindulgence but you can stay in good cheer with tips from Melinda Ring, M.D., medical director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University.

  • Upset stomach: Ring's favorite way to stave off the effects of overindulging: Dilute 1 to 2 teaspoons of unfiltered apple cider vinegar -- known to aid digestion -- in a glass of water and sip before you head to the party buffet.
  • Back pain: "Musculoskeletal tension in the shoulders and back is common during the holidays, thanks to the extra heel-wearing and package-lugging," Dr. Ring says. Don't carry too much at once; pick up a foam roller to release tight spots; and rock cute medium-high heels if you'll be on your feet all night.
  • Insomnia: If never-ending to-dos are dancing in your head at bedtime, Ring suggests having a snack rich in tryptophan and complex carbs. Try a couple of slices of leftover turkey in a small whole-wheat wrap or a slice of cheese with whole-grain crackers.
  • Heartburn: "Rich treats like buttery cookies and greasy meats can relax your lower esophageal sphincter and cause acid reflux," Dr. Ring says. "Try a marshmallow root or slippery elm supplement beforehand to coat and protect your GI tract." (Check with your doc first if you're pregnant, breast-feeding or taking other meds or supplements.)

Source:  Huffington Post


Posted by on December 10, 2011 - 12:27pm

Handling holiday stress is the focus of this month's e-newsletter from the Institute for Women's Health Research and can be accessed by clicking HERE.   It addresses why stress is handled differently in men and women.

We also thought the following tips on e-shopping might be helpful!.

Now that black Friday is over, many of you have likely decided to do the rest  of your shopping on-line.   Here are some tips to help you avoid problems when shopping from home.

Coupon and Promotion Codes. Search for coupon and promotion codes to be sure you get all discounts the e-tailer currently offers. To find current codes, perform a search for the e-tailer’s name along with the words ‘promotion code’ or ‘coupon’. After applying the coupon code double check your total price to ensure the discount was applied properly. Also check "Deal of the Day" websites, where retailers offer deep discounts on merchandise and services.

Payment Methods. The way you pay matters! You get the most protection with a credit card; debit cards are more risky. Virtual wallets such as PayPal are convenient but have disadvantages, too. Single use credit card numbers are another option – ask your credit card provider if they offer this feature.

Shipping and Handling. Shipping and handling can put a big dent in a shopping budget. Look for sites that offer free or discounted shipping rates. Make sure you understand all conditions placed on free shipping offers and that you’ll get your merchandise in time if you choose that option. The law affords you rights surrounding time-frames for shipping your purchase.

Return Policies. Understand the e-tailer’s return policy. Do they offer a special, extended return policy for the holiday season? What documentation needs to accompany a return? If you purchase online, and the e-tailer also has a brick and mortar site can you return to the store? Do you need a return authorization number or an “RA” to return an item? Will the e-tailer pay for return shipping of the item or do you have to cover that cost? Will you have to pay a re-stocking fee?

Problems with the purchase. One of the most common online purchasing problems is products that don't arrive in time. Even if the company is unable to ship as promised, it must provide you adequate notice promptly and give you a revised delivery date. You must be allowed to agree to the delay or cancel the order and get a refund. If you're not happy about a transaction, you should complain to the retailer using the address or phone number you kept from your transaction receipts. If you don’t receive the merchandise you ordered, file a dispute with your credit card company.


Posted by on December 9, 2010 - 11:57am

The holiday season is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends but it can be stressful, especially if you have an anxiety disorder.   The latest e-newsletter from the Institute for Women's Health Research focuses on the most common anxiety disorders, especially in women.  Click HERE to view our December e-newsletter.