Stress and Self Care

With the holiday season officially upon us, it’s a good idea to take a moment and consider the importance of self care. While it’s true that the concept of self-care is something that’s discussed ad nauseum this time of year, that doesn’t change the fact that stress can be just as detrimental to your health as poor eating or smoking.

How Stress Hurts Us

  1. Stress can physically damage your heart. According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence rate of heart attacks increases after major stress events, such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Additionally, a Swedish 5-yr study concluded that stress leads to an increase in instances of angina, high blood pressure, and stroke.
  2. Stress leads to weight gain. Researchers at the University of Miami found that people who find themselves in chronically stressful situations tend to consume up to 40% more food than normal.
  3. High stress is a physical trigger, which means your immune system suffers. This means that you’re more susceptible to colds, infections, and the flu. Additionally, stress can lead to an increase in headaches, digestive malfunction, and emotional distress.


Ways to Take Care

It’s all well and good to know you need to take care of yourself, but it can feel impossible this time of year. There are presents to buy, meals to make, trips to take, and family gatherings to attend. How on earth can we be expected to fit in any time for self care?! Here are a few things you can sneak in between all the errands, letting you take care of everyone else – and yourself – all at the same time.

  1. 5 minute meditation. Insight, which is free and available for all platforms, provides timers and a large library of visualizations. Whether you are trying to eat mindfully, cut yourself some slack, or forgive a family member, there is something to help you get where you need to go.
  2. Pop a heat wrap in the microwave and sit with it around your neck for 10 minutes. While you sit, do something pleasurable: play a game on your phone, watch a funny Youtube, call a friend. Do not work on your to-do list.
  3. 10 minute HIT workout. High Intensity Workouts accomplish a whole lot in a small amount of time. In just ten minutes, you can work out your whole body and work up quite a sweat. These can be done with bodyweight exercises, so you don’t need to find time to get to the gym. Here are some examples to get you started: