lou blogWhile the holiday season should be the season of joy, for most it is the season of stress. With long lines, cold weather, financial pressure and too much to do in too little time, your stresses can leave you vulnerable to illnesses and physical manifestations to your increased mental strain. Stress can affect your day to day emotional state, creating hypersensitivity to everyday activities and making you angry, upset, or depressed more easily. Your mental strain can also compromise your physical health by increasing likelihood of high blood pressure, ulcers, irritable bowels, headaches, backaches and overall physical fatigue. These factors in consideration there are simple preventative measures to keep your health and your spirits high this holiday season.

Numerous studies show that there is a direct correlation between emotional and physical health. During the holidays, when you have the pressures of daily life as well as the additional factors of decorating, purchasing gifts, hosting guests and cooking elaborate dinners, there is no other sure fire way to get your stress level at a boiling point. Heart disease, an all to common disease in America today, is greatly affected by stress. The three key factors that lead to heart disease are high blood pressure, heart rate and blood cholesterol levels, all of which are dramatically increased by stress. With that in mind, stress is not something to just tough out through the holiday season, here are some easy ways to control stress and get the most enjoyment out of your holiday.

Exercise is essential to health and the cold weather and your hectic schedule should not be an excuse to stop your workout routine. Exercise, even something as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood, can help you relieve tension, as well as mental and physical fatigue caused by stress. Increasing body temperature through a walk also enables your body to burn up the chemicals it produces in response to stress, improving mood and increasing tolerance to strain. Aerobic exercises are also great to do, combined with music you can improve your mood, energy and cleanse your body of impurities.

There are also plenty of practical exercises you can incorporate effortlessly into your daily routine to help keep you feeling your best:

Deep breathing exercises are a great way of minimizing stress wherever you are at whatever time. As you are sitting at your desk at the office or lying down on the couch, take a deep breath in and count to ten, then exhale that breath over the course of ten seconds. Repeat this several times to clear your mind, refresh your body, and slow heart rate.

Neck and shoulder exercises are also easily done while sitting in the office, on the drive home or while watching television. Relieve stress induced tightness in your shoulders by shrugging your shoulders up and down and rolling back expanding your chest. To ease tension in your neck, slowly turn head side to side multiple times, then gently tilt your head bringing the right ear toward the left shoulder and vice versa.

The holidays only come once a year, enjoy this time the most by remembering to take care of yourself and minimize stress by partaking in some sort of physical activity. A healthy body results in a healthy mind, look great and feel great with minimal stress this holiday season by staying active.