sources of stress

Written by Vera Coetsee, Health and Nutrition Coach

15 Dec 2022

The holiday season is an enjoyable time to look forward to. Spending time with family, taking a break from work, eating delicious meals and socialising with friends. While this sounds like the perfect time to de-stress, this might not be the case for everyone. Many people experience a variety of different sources of stress around this time of the year; financial stress related to gift-giving, navigating social situations with family and friends, struggling to keep up healthy habits, and keeping up with a busy social schedule.

Regardless of the sources of stress, it can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Mentally you may experience feelings of anxiety, restlessness, irritability or anger. Physically you can experience a spike in cortisol levels, which can increase blood sugar levels, suppress the immune system, and constrict blood vessels. This can lead to feeling tension in the muscles, tightness in the chest, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and dizziness. This is definitely not what you want to be feeling when you are on holiday.

The good news is, with a few simple mindset changes, there are ways to ease through the season. Sit back, relax, and follow these simple tips to feel your best this holiday season. 


Approach the Holiday Season Mindfully

Mindfulness is a hot topic in the wellness world that many of us might have heard of. But what exactly is it? Mindfulness is the quality of being present, aware, and fully engaged with whatever we are doing at the moment. More research is coming out, proving the power of mindfulness, particularly in reducing stress. It helps us to be free from distractions or judgement, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. Being fully present during the holidays and concentrating on experiencing the festive atmosphere is a great way to practise mindfulness and eliminate sources of stress. Fully immersing yourself in this way allows you to step back from unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise from holiday stress, and cultivate a sense of calm amidst the chaos. An easy mindfulness exercise to practise this holiday; 

sources of stress

Prioritise Self-Care

If you are sharing the holiday season with friends and family, then you know how easy it is to get caught up doing everything for everyone else, which can be a source of stress. Self-care is something many people do not practise at all in their lives, especially during the busy season. The holiday season is about giving, and that includes giving yourself whatever you need to reduce stress so you can fully be present and enjoy this time with your loved ones. Your sleep, your nutrition, your fitness, and your mental well-being always needs to be a priority. In fact, how will you be able to take care of others, if you’re not first taking care of yourself? When you take the time to care for yourself and make sure all of your own needs are met, you’re actually doing not only yourself, but everyone else your taking care of a favour. So take that extra long bath in the evening, go for a walk to clear your mind, sleep in for an extra hour, treat yourself to that special mani and pedi, or buy yourself a gift this year. Incorporating joy into your life and reconnecting with the things that mean the most to you is, frankly, what the holidays are all about.

Focus on Gratitude

Focusing on things to be grateful for this year, can shift our energy to a more positive note. Maybe it’s your cosy bed, that delicious Christmas meal or simply the warm clothes you’re wearing – there is always something to be grateful for. When you focus on these things rather than your stress, overwhelm, and frustrations, you’ll instantly feel a sense of calm and realise that life is really not that bad. Next time you’re stuck in traffic or standing in that long shopping line, anxious to get to your next event, try this; take three deep breaths, and while you inhale, focus on something you’re grateful for.  

sources of stress

Set Realistic Resolutions

Unrealistic new year’s resolutions can set you up for failure, leading to feeling more pressure and stress around this time of the year. The new year is a fresh start and a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow emotionally and physically. Although most people’s resolutions only last a few days or weeks, don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Get inspired by these healthy new year’s resolution ideas:

Knowing what goes into your meal is key to eating healthier. Meal prepping at the beginning of the week can help you with portion control, prevent you from eating out, and provide you with more healthier food options.

Drinking enough water each day has many benefits, including relieving headaches, boosting your energy and providing you with better skin. Invest in a good quality glass water bottle and make sure to keep it close to you throughout the day.

Nature has been proven to help cheer up your mood, and even enhance your creativity. So put on your walking shoes and go for more regular walks. Take time in your lunch hour to go outside and breathe in some fresh air.

Feeling a bit bloated after the holiday season?  Make sure to eat more plants! Veggies and fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, and the fibre is great for your colon.

Restore Integrative Medical Clinic is a functional medicine clinic in Hong Kong and a center of integrative health professionals. If you would like to make an appointment, please contact us here.