The holidays can be overwhelming. From sending off your holiday cards on time to making sure you’ve taken care of everything on your to-do lists, it can be difficult not to feel the stress of this season. If you feel worn down this time of the year, you're certainly not alone.
Why should you stress about stress? Put simply, chronic stress isn’t healthy. In fact, the dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental tension caused by worry.” Occasional stress is a normal part of life, but when stress levels remain elevated—it can affect your sleep, mood, digestion, muscle relaxation, focus, eating habits, and even your sex life. When elevated for long periods of time, the effect of stress on the body can be quite damaging.
Dr. Mary Meagher studies behavioral & cellular neuroscience with a focus in researching how stress and emotions affect human health. She found that people exposed to social conflict of any kind can experience high level of stress which can lead to a dysregulation of the immune system—which is why severe stress often manifests itself into various afflictions in the body.
In a time where tension and worry may seem to be common themes affecting conversations with loved ones as we gather together for the busy holiday season, it’s an important time to shift our focus away from stress-inducing anxiousness and into a place of peacefulness and gratitude. A focus on gratitude is backed by neuroscience as being good for your health, and it may help you enjoy quality time spent with your friends and family.
Here are some of our favorite quotes for to help bring us back to the love and joy of the holiday season:
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
Once your holiday shopping is done, if you want to delve even further into the spirit of giving, consider getting out into your community to help those less fortunate than yourself. There are many organizations you can volunteer at with your kids in tow, and it’s a great way to instill a sense of thankfulness after seeing that many people have much less.
There are many service opportunities this time of year, some even closer to home than you might think. And when we’re all focusing on what we can give (rather than what we can get), major points of contention suddenly begin to melt away, and we can find more joy in the present. Whether you sponsor a family’s holiday gifts or shovel your neighbor’s icy driveway, a little bit of service can have a big impact on those around you (and even yourself).
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
Everyone makes mistakes―it’s a simple truth of life. Instead of expecting perfection or holding grudges against loved ones, try giving them another chance this holiday season.
Focus on your feelings of gratitude and connection; for their greater purpose in your life. Many families live miles apart, making family time precious. Enjoy every moment as you keep the vibes positive this holiday season. You’ll also be teaching your children a valuable lesson about the importance of family.
"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” ― Tecumseh
If you can’t afford a big Christmas or missed out on the best Black Friday deal of the year, take a deep breath and recognize what a gift it is to simply be alive. Notice what you have in your life: family, friends, food, a warm bed, a job, transportation, clothes—the list goes on and on! In practicing these thoughts, you’re rerouting your neurotransmitters and thought patterns to think in terms of abundance instead of lack—which can help you destress, increase your mental health, and cultivate thoughts of peacefulness and gratitude more often.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of two little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
Do you have a favorite quote or source of inspiration that helps keep you connected to gratitude during the holidays?