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7 Types of Stress: Holiday Survival Guide

stress

Photo by Alan Cleaver on Flickr.

While great fun, the holidays can be a stressful time of year. This post is a reminder that we can slow down, take time for ourselves and that we may need to do so more than ever right now. In fact, it is what these contemplative winter celebrations were originally intended for prior to their extreme commercialization.

Still, the modern questions remain. How to cope with stress during the holidays? How do we invite healing into our lives during this time of year?

I often say that when it comes to healing, “there is no formula.”  However, I have cultivated specific habits that serve my healing well. Now I listen to my body which means establishing boundaries with myself.

Along the way to physical deterioration, I didn’t listen –a product of my own incongruence and wishful thinking.  I wished I was in better overall health and condition than I really was. Now I stop and remember –just because I can do it, doesn’t mean it’s good for me. That’s a good boundary for me.  My new discipline is to be a bit under-active.  Stop whatever it is I am doing before I am fatigued –a useful rule of thumb for the holidays.

Below are a few common types which we can be mindful of year round and especially now:

  1. poor eating habits -processed foods, high sugar consumption, foods with hormones and antibiotics
  2. food allergies -eating food that makes your body go into a defensive mode
  3. emotional stress -toxic relationships, interactions and thought processing
  4. sleep deprivation -that’s key for me, I need 9 hours per night minimum, and have since childhood
  5. lack of exercise -I remember years of sitting in my office, not giving my body ample time to move
  6. over exercise -I recall years of running 5 miles a day, not best type of movement for my constitution
  7. toxic exposures -pesticides, mercury, heavy metals, parabens, BPA, and more

Stress adds up and chips away at our well being, until we find ourselves in ill health. Years of stress can get us to a point of (what seems like) no return.

I remember after my diagnosis, I was inconsolable (though that’s another story). It took tons of patience and dedication (the dedication to slow down and become competitive about things like sleeping, rather than my more preferred modes of accomplishment).  I had to fool my monkey mind. Patience helps me feel better, even feel good, and helps me to make the choices that serve me best.

To understand the diversity of choices in front of me, I had to slow down and simply listen. This is a gift that we can all give ourselves during the holiday season. So don’t wait until January to think about yourself and how you want to shift your life. You can give yourself the gift of self-care right now.


posted on November 30, 2012, 17 comments

  1. Vanessa

    Hi Elana,

    I love your site and really appreciate your posts on establishing boundaries. I’ve learned a great deal from your posts that discuss how you heal and manage your health. I think it’s great advice, even for those of us who are not living with certain health conditions but are just busy taking care of little ones and raising and family.

    I even have your treatment tenets posted in our kitchen :)

  2. Mrs G

    I could have written #4 myself… ;-) nice to know I’m not the only one….
    Seriously, Elana, thank you so much for your apple tart recipe. I made the crust with hazelnuts instead of pecans (here they are very expensive and I only buy them in moderation) and it turned out perfect. I also love your orange chocolate scones, we had so many of them this winter but now we’ve taken a break because of their sugar content… Your apple tart it’s just perfect, low sugar content and it’s delicious. Thank you again.

  3. Jessica

    emotional stress since I still live at home. :P I love running too but it makes me skinny as as all heck, and I’m already petite. So HIIT, yoga, hiking and weight lifting is better.

    • Jessica Lynne @ loveyouradrenals.com

      Jessica, that’s just what I’ve had to learn, too. Family is a big stressor for me, and it’s something I’m really working on. But it seems like the holidays just amplify family tension (it’s that magical time of year!). I also used to LOVE to run, but like you and Elana, I had to learn that it wasn’t the best kind of physical activity for me. Good for you for being adaptable a giving your body what it needs! It’s not always easy when you miss that long run ;)

  4. Karen

    Hi Elana,

    How did you know I need this right now….thank you, thank you, thank you…
    The past two weeks I paid no attention to what I was eating and my body really felt it. Today I made a commitment to myself to listen to my body and really stick to a gluten free diet, stay away from processed foods and even give dairy a break. I am so tired of feeling sick and tired. I just refuse!
    Thank you for sharing your recipes and for helping us through.

    All the best,

    Karen

  5. Ashley

    Thank you for the tips, Elana. Ever since I moved from the year-round warmth of my home in Hawaii to Japan, where it gets awfully cold in the winter (into an apartment designed with no insulation to speak of), I’ve been having an unhealthy amount of physical and emotional problems around winter due to stress. The holidays are so busy and so cold! This winter, I’ll try to make a little more time for myself, sit down and think things through instead of rushing or half-assing them. Thanks for the holiday advice. Stay healthy, everyone!

  6. Deborah Penner

    Thanks, Elana. Powerful reminders. I appreciate greatly how you shifted from being competitive in your exercise to being competitive about things that matter and will keep you well. I have had to learn similar things.

  7. Dayle

    Elana,
    Even though I have never met you, I adore you and respect you. You are a wise soul that resonates well with me. I know my soul, and others around me, long for the simplicity of reflective gratitude instead of the commercialized greed presented to us during the holidays. My family and I have found many ways to simplify this time of year and we have been able to find rest for our souls. We love telling relatives and friends, “Thank you for asking what we want for Christmas, however, our lives are full of goodness and all we desire is to spend time with you.” There is so much joy to be found in nurturing healthy relationships. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and encouraging us to keep this time sacred and avoid the stress and pressures of the season.
    Blessings to you and your loved ones.
    ~Dayle

  8. Lynnette Foster-Horwith

    I adore moments of mindfulness, being present and joys coming from that. Creating my settings, pace and companions allow me peace I never knew before I was missing. I dont always succeed and so now the holidays are times of mindfulness, to be present and soft.

    Its with gratitude that I feel embraced by this community and its compassion and shared journeying to healthy body and mind, healthy eating, listening, sharing and play. This community is full of wisdom.

    Thích Nh?t H?nh speaks to self care like the way we care for a baby who we adore, and reminds me to love myself, including loving tenderly the body I’m blessed to grace God with in this life. My choices of self care are new to me too.

    Elana your many gifts and those of this community you create are gifts to me.

    Thank you,
    Lynnette

  9. Cathi Gross, Ventura, CA

    Thanks for sharing what you have learned. I’m 54 years old and still learning tthese lessions. Your right, I have to stop being a monkey and be competitive in the areas that keep me healthy. I’m probably best at watching what I eat. But I’m horrible in the over exercise department or preparing for a big party like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was just telling my doctor that I push myself to hard, and then my body crashes. Opps. . Got to pace myself and learn to relax through the process. Thank you again for the reminder. You are a very wise lady.

  10. Brenda

    You may want to try meditation to reduce your stress. I am sure if you google
    sahaja meditation in Colorado, you will find a listing. I know Denver has a class
    and probably Boulder also.

  11. Jane Burkhouse

    You could add the stress of your your husband’s double by-pass heart surgery on November 8, 2012. He is healing well and doesn’t know that he will be following a Paelo low sodium diet. Since our ancestors didn’t have raady access to salt he will be getting 2 grams of sodium or 1tsp salt daily.

    When my naturpathic physican put me on a Paelo diet to “cure” Multiple Chemical Sensitivities I though she was crazy. When the Toxoligist MD physican said to give it a try I knew she was not crazy, crazy but crazy like a fox. The Toxoligist, MD said, “I have seen many hopeless cases correcty within 12 of following a strict Paleo Diet. Go easy on the salt, our ancestors didn’t eat/have a lot of salt.” Am going back to my naturpathic physican and asking to become her patient again. I shall apologize for my comment to her, “Dr. Francis, that is the craziest thing I have ever heard. I will go to a real Dr who specializes in Toxology for some expert advise on Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.” I believe it is called Crow and what kind of sauce should i serve with Baked Crow.

    Elena can you please add a spell check to your comments section. I threw away my dictionary 6 months ago.

  12. Karina

    I am comforted to know that I’m not the only one that needs at least 9 hours of sleep a night. I’ve spent years resisting this fact, especially when others around me – including my husband – downplays the importance of it. Thanks for reminding us to stick up for what we need!

  13. I’m also someone that needs around 9 hours of sleep. Our culture pushes everyone to multi-task but simplicity is better for the heart and spirit. Family gatherings cause a great deal of stress and as a psychotherapist it is often the focus of many sessions in december due to fears of direct or subtle criticisms that are anticipated.

  14. Stephanie

    Hi Elana,

    I’m a long-time fan of your blog & books. You’ve been invaluable source of education, support, and healing (thank you). I hope you can help the Celiac community sign a petition for better Celiac education and awareness on behalf of an 11 year old girl. Here is the link to the petition through http://www.change.org:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/dr-drew-show-on-headline-news-we-would-like-a-public-apology-to-the-celiac-disease-community

  15. T @ None

    May The Lord bless you and keep you
    May His light shine upon you
    May He be with you always

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