It is that time of year, where we all tend to get more stressed out than usual. We already have hectic schedules, now add more events, family gatherings, errands, and shopping to your to do list. Cold and Flu season is on the rise now. And then travel on top of that and it’s no wonder we lose our tempers more quickly than normal.
Stress itself is the Fight or Flight side of your nervous system. It was originally designed for us to face predators hiding in the woods. Now the most deadly predator threatening our lives is our deadlines, endless errands, money challenges, family, relationships, depression, and more.
When we are in this state the body is doing its job to make sure we can defend ourselves or run away. In order to do this efficiently the body does several things to make this happen. Our circulation goes out to all of your limbs, so that you can run or fight. In doing this it pulls circulation away from your vital organs and increases heart rate and blood sugar. Your blood platelets get sticky so that you can clot quicker if you get cut.
Digestion and assimilation slows, no longer needing to absorb your nutrients or go to the bathroom. Adrenaline is getting pumped through your system giving us amazing strength and alertness. Cortisol, your stress hormone is being released and packing protection around your vital organs. Your growth and sex hormones stop production, finding it unnecessary to be restoring, repairing or even thinking about procreation. The immune system takes a time out unable to send energy to heal or defend from illness or disease.
What is becoming more of a concern is that most Americans are not completely disengaging from the Fight or Flight into its opposite, Rest and Restore. Our need for of sleep aids and anxiety medications has increased over the past 10 years at alarming rates. Even at low levels being under constant stress can cause long term effects. Coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity, digestive disturbances, infections, cancer, anxiety, insomnia, addictions, heart attacks, and strokes, and even premature aging are just some of many health risks and challenges that can occur due to long term Fight or Flight exhaustion.
There are things you can do for yourself, so you can enjoy your holidays. Spend at least 30 minutes a day taking time for yourself. Be aware that vacations are for fun, high energy activities. Whereas solitude and retreats are recharging. Take a break from electronics. Turning your phone off one hour before bed can help you sleep. Receiving body work and healthy touch. Breathing exercises and mediation are always great.
Most importantly remember that you do not have to do everything yourself. Asking for help is the simplest way to check things off your to do list. The more you take on now the less you will be able to handle in the future. Taking time for you, is taking time for your family.