This is such a joyous exciting season! Many faiths have reason to celebrate this time of year. Many people have long-held precious traditions. Family and friends make special effort to be together. Receptions, parties, brunches, gatherings, and meals are planned.
Do find that this season gives you energy and good, warm feelings?
Or, do elements of this season make you anxious?
Do the preparations, busy calendar, and financial outflow give you stress?
I hope not. But if they do, you are definitely not alone. About 44% of women and 31% of men report an increased level of stress at holiday time. Some rate the hype, finances and issues as mentioned above, as the source of their stress. Others point to discomfort with social situations.
I want to share something helpful I recently read. It is interesting that we each feel like others are looking at and judging us in such situations. In reality, all of those people are having the same self-conscious feelings about themselves.
So, if you are feeling additional stress, what are your best alternatives to manage it?
Alcohol may seem like a good option, but it actually puts you at risk for a fall or a driving accident. Then, it makes you feel even more tired the next day. And, alcohol and drugs can make your stress worse rather than better.
A class of medication used for stress for decades is benzodiazepines. These medications include alprazolam, lorazepam, diazepam, and brand names like Valium and Xanax. They have made the lists of medications that are not safe for most people over the age of 65. They aren’t good options for people under age 65 either with very few exceptions. They make it hard to think clearly, increase risk of falling or other injury, and increase risk of driving accidents. When these are taken regularly, dependence develops. Then it becomes hard to get back off of them. So, I recommend you DO NOT use benzodiazepines to manage holiday stress.
A good night of sleep can be very helpful in dealing with stress. But, using medicine to get to sleep can put you at risk. These medicines include zolpidem/Ambien, zaleplan/Sonata, and eszopiclone/Lunesta. This list also includes over-the-counter sleep aids like diphenhydramine found in Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and Aleve PM. Doxylamine is another ingredient found in sleep aids and cold/flu combinations that has strong anticholinergic side effects. This means it can cause constipation, dry eyes, falls, and can cause slowed thinking.
So what are some safer ways to manage holiday stress?
Take care of yourself :-).
- Eat healthy foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit fattening party foods.
- Drink plenty of water/fluids to avoid dehydration while running around busy. Limit the caffeine to avoid the ‘crash’ later and to protect your heart.
- Get some exercise to clear your head and improve your mood.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Note, the exercise and avoiding alcohol will help with your sleep.
- Take a break. Taking some time to relax, pray, meditate, or get a massage can help you recalibrate.
For more information about manageing holiday stress, contact us at www.medsmash.com.
For further application, check out my personal blog.
I’m wishing you a truly joyous season. Cheers to your health!