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Tuning Inward: The issues are in your tissues (Holiday Edition)

Its Christmas Eve and you are spending that hour you normally get to yourself standing in line at Target for that one toy you really want to buy your nephew. The line is wrapped around the main aisle and you start to question, "is this worth it?". While standing in line, you are thinking about how this is the first time you have stood around this many people since COVID-19 started or how the amount of people around you feels like too much. Suddenly, it feels like the room in closing in and you have the urge to drop your 1 item while bolting out the door for fresh air. Sounds stressful right?


The holidays can be incredibly stressful for many different reasons. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people said their stress level increases during the holidays. Why does holiday stress seem to wreak more havoc on our bodies and mind then everyday stress?

We often know that everyday stress symptoms can be managed but they often do not completely disappear. Everyday stressors can include working long hours, caring for aging parents, paying the bills and so much more without adding the extra stress from the holidays. Navigating mental and physical health during the holidays can seem like an overwhelming task and can have long lasting effects on our mind and body.

During times of high stress, such as the holidays, our brain signals to our endocrine system to produce cortisol hormones to help increase our energy throughout the day. In addition, our Central Nervous System, when signaled by the brain during high stress, works with your adrenal glands to release a hormone called adrenalin. When adrenalin and cortisol hormones are released in your body during stressful times, we often see fight or flight symptoms such as increase in heart rate, increase of glucose levels in the blood stream, and an increase in respiration. Research states we can become ‘stuck’ in fight or flight states which over time can negatively impact our mental health.

Tuning into our body’s natural somatic response during the holiday season can help you manage stress levels in your body. When navigating stress, I often instruct my clients to ask themselves these 3 things:

1. What sensation in my body tells me that I am feeling this way?

2. What words can I use to describe these bodily sensations?

3. What emotion am I feeling?

Then follow through with a physical comfort technique which aims to regulate your body responses and avert overriding your nervous system.

1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.

2. Feel your feet on the floor and notice how they are being supported.

3. Feel your hands resting on your lap or on your belly.

4. Feel how your hands and arms are being supported.

5. Feel your back being supported by the chair.

6. Adjust your posture until you find yourself feeling completely comfortable.

7. Use your senses to connect with sensations around the room (colors, shapes, sounds, smell)

8. Use your internal senses to connect with a pleasant sensation with you.

9. Draw your attention to each of those sensations for a few moments at a time.

10. Notice the physical and emotional comfort they generate.


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