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Christmas Hustle and Bustle-Ways to Beat Stress

We all know that the days and weeks leading up to Christmas can be hectic, crazy and stressful. We want to make sure we've made our lists and checked them twice not forgetting anyone. There are so many people to think about. Kids, moms, dads, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews, teachers, coaches, friends and neighbors not to mention the mail carrier, paper deliverer etc...etc...There's cooking and baking, decorating and wrapping, preparing and sharing. All of this takes place while the routine of daily life must go on. No wonder so many of us are stressed out and cranky during one of the most celebrated and loved holidays of the year!
While we can't take away the stress altogether there are always things that we can do to minimize it and help us through not just this time of year but throughout the year!

First of all...If it doesn't bring you joy, DON'T DO IT! If it's something you do begrudgingly or because you feel you have to but it really just adds stress then omit it from your to do list! Years ago I thought it was my job, my duty as a woman to bake for the holidays. Bake cookies, bake breads, bake fudge and bake beautiful pastries but it didn't make me happy AT ALL! I HATE baking! I really do...for some reason it makes me cranky at the end of it all. Some people LOVE it and they do such a wonderful job making beautiful baked goods that taste so great. If that's you, continue but if it's not then stop! I don't love it so I stopped doing it. A friend of mine said if putting up three Christmas trees in your house makes you happy, then do it! If it stresses you out then don't do it! There are no rules or codes to follow at Christmas time. Christmas is really about celebrating and enjoying, not stressing to the point where you walk around being rude, cranky and miserable...we've all been there and we see it in the parking lots and stores as people scramble to make Christmas happen. Not fun!
Second...EXERCISE! Yes, you knew it was coming! Listen to this...Our bodies are wonderful machines and when we utilize and DO with them what they were made to do our bodies take care of us. Let's take a look at two ways daily stresses can be managed physiologically...

Endorhpin Release
- Endorphins...oh how I love you! When we exercise our bodies releases these wonderful, pain-relieving, mood-elevating chemicals in the brain giving us a natural feeling of well being and happiness as they lift our mood. The runner’s high is a perfect example of the increased endorphins in the body.
Therefore, exercise keeps your body functioning well and will keep you feeling relaxed and refreshed while promoting a deep and restful nights sleep. Sounds great doesn't it!

Cortisol - Cortisol is an important chemical that the body produces when stress is placed on it as it aids us in the fight or flight response. Excessive amounts of cortisol, however, wreak havoc on the body in the form of weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, depression, cravings and mood swings. Chronic stress forces the adrenal glands to produce high levels of cortisol which, as you can see, can be detrimental not just on a daily basis but over time.
 Getting in regular bouts of exercise will curb the amount of cortisol your body releases in response to stress. Do yourself a favor by treating the body you were given with respect. Eliminate unnecessary  stress and manage the rest through exercise! You'll feel better and your body will thank you now and for years to come!

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