Classic movies, holiday songs, and beloved stories all tell us how joyful our holidays should be — filled with baking, decorating, and caroling — but many of us feel more stressed than ever at this time of year.

In fact, 62% respondents who participated in a 2015 study on holiday stress reported that their stress levels were either somewhat or significantly elevated during the season of too many parties, elaborate meals, and family friction.

At Gain Wellness Center, we take a holistic approach to your health and know that your emotional health and stress level deeply influence your wellbeing. Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia approaches your care with a high level of medical know-how, the knowledge that every one of your body’s systems affects your physical and mental health, and deep compassion.

Dr. Walia-Bhatia helps you get your stress under control by prescribing lifestyle changes and offering treatments that allow you to once again welcome the holiday season with open arms.

Aren’t the holidays supposed to be fun?

They certainly are! The holidays should mean enjoying your friends and family, doing special activities and enjoying performances, and chilling. Too often we find ourselves overwhelmed with an endless to-do list, an unrealistic amount of social engagements on the calendar, and the feeling that we have to do it all — flawlessly.

Don’t doubt the stress has a negative effect on your health either. It can:

  • Lead to dysregulated hormones
  • Cause you to eat too much or lean on alcohol more than usual
  • Affect your personal relationships, since it can make you impatient and cranky
  • Upset your digestive system
  • Affect the quality of your rest
  • Impact your fertility
  • Negatively affect intimacy with your partner
  • Cause headaches
  • Elevate your blood pressure, increasing your risk for stroke and heart disease
  • Raise your blood sugar

It surprises people also, that stress can actually cause pain in your back and and neck, panic symptoms like a racing heart, and even suppress your immune system and contribute to illness.

Tips for easing holiday stress

By becoming mindful of how you can avert stress before the holidays this year, you can make a plan, so you’ll truly enjoy your holiday season this year. You can take control by:

1. Prioritizing ruthlessly

Spend your time doing what you enjoy most this holiday season. Whether it’s attending the holiday parade, watching festive films, or cooking up a storm, schedule time for your favorite activities, and let the rest go. Who says you have to send hundreds of cards this year or RSVP “yes” to every party?

2. Simplify, simplify, simplify

If party planning makes you sweat, think about how to make hosting easier. That might mean ordering takeout instead of cooking everything from scratch, opting for a buffet over a sit-down meal that requires elaborately setting the table, or deciding that this year you’re going to go out with the family and skip hosting altogether.

Now extend this philosophy to other potentially stressful aspects of the holidays, from decorating your home to shopping for gifts.

Opting for experiences over things can also help. Give a gift certificate for a manicure to a friend or attend a choral performance with the family instead of buying more stuff.

3. Don’t skimp on healthy living

It’s easy to skip a good night’s sleep, eat poorly, and become more of a couch potato when you’re so busy during the holidays. However, it’s guaranteed to make you feel worse and doesn’t help with managing your stress well.

If you have a meditation practice, do yoga, or enjoy tai chi, keep it up.

Continue eating well, exercising regularly, and taking it easy when you go to parties with abundant rich food and cocktails.

4. Manage your money with care

Financial stress is a hallmark of the holidays. You can manage it by creating a realistic holiday budget — and sticking to it. All the food, wrapping paper, lights, and more add up!

5. Be deliberate about relaxing

If you’re kind to yourself and take steps to make your surroundings calming at home, you’ll feel better. Light a scented candle, turn on some music, take a reading break, or relish a warm cup of tea. These sensory experiences are powerful ways to zap holiday stress.

In addition to these strategies, Dr. Walia-Bhatia provides treatments to relieve stress. Gain Wellness Center offers an innovative well-being check called a complete wellness evaluation, in which she deeply analyzes the key areas of your health “snapshot,” from hormonal health to stress and more, since they’re all inextricably linked.

Dr. Walia-Bhatia’s customized stress management treatment plan may involve dietary changes, more exercise, shifting your work-life balance so that you have more time to pursue beloved hobbies and stay connected with loved ones.

Call Gain Wellness Center’s Poway office at 858-206-9715 to schedule a complimentary consultation, or book one online.

Author Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP, is the founder of Gain Wellness Center in San Diego, California. At the wellness center, one of Dr. Walia’s, greatest goals, as a health care provider, is to provide her practice members with alternative, but healthy and safe choices that will enhance their health and well-being. She likes to motivate and educate her practice members to take charge of their health by providing them with evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions regarding their own personal health and take control of their health. Dr. Walia was born in India and raised in Canada before moving to San Diego. She attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada for her Master of Science degree with specialties in Biology and Physiology. She had various publications in research articles during her time at McMaster University funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. She has three kids and enjoys cooking, hiking and going to the beach with her family.

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