Reduce Your Holiday Stress: 4 Tips You May Have Missed
Typically dubbed “the holidays,” the stretch of time between Thanksgiving and the New Year is rife with stress. One survey found that over 80% of Americans expect to be stressed over the holidays. Typically, people get overwhelmed by the extra demands and expectations associated with preparing for and celebrating the holiday season.
Unfortunately, stress puts an additional burden on the liver of those with Hepatitis C – a burden that can result in inflammation and liver cell damage.
Stress doesn’t cause Hepatitis C. According to Paul J. Rosch, a clinical professor of medicine and psychology at the New York Medical College, “Having this liver disease doesn’t mean you’re more likely to feel stress than someone without it.”
However, stress can aggravate existing Hepatitis C infection. Recent evidence indicates a strong correlation between stressors and the progression and outcome of liver inflammatory diseases, such as chronic viral hepatitis. The influence stress has on your immune system ultimately leads to an alteration of several cellular pathways, which in turn, disrupt liver metabolism and fan inflammation.
Standard lifestyle suggestions certainly help mitigate the impact stress has on your body. These generally include eating healthful foods, regularly exercising, and logging in a solid night’s sleep.
Although, there are some additional ways to reduce stress this time of year that may not be as obvious. Prevent your vulnerability to heightened stress during the holidays by considering these four frequently overlooked strategies to prevent the Hepatitis C virus from flaring:
- Choose Your Traditions – For many families, traditions dominate the holidays. However, letting go of traditions that raise your stress levels can make the holidays more enjoyable. Try to separate traditions you truly enjoy from those you feel you must do because you’ve always done so or you are expected by others to do so. For example, attending Midnight Mass might be a longstanding family tradition – but it could be stressful if it disrupts your routine or will wreck havoc on your toddler’s sanity. Breaking ‘rules’ to create new traditions can be part of the holiday fun. Bonus points if your new tradition includes laughter, because laughing reduces stress hormones.
- Conscious Planning –Think carefully before committing to any holiday responsibility or social event. Refrain from making snap decisions by giving yourself time to reflect on any proposed commitment. You get to choose what feels manageable to you. Feeling obligated to attend every holiday celebration despite juggling your family, job, errands, and your own holiday planning – can easily send your stress levels through the roof. Three holiday parties a week might sound exciting in October, but can be overwhelming come the third week in December. If concerned you may be overbooking yourself, err on the side of caution by putting your health first. Turn down invitations to parties, promises to cook a feast, or participation in a Secret Santa that will elevate your stress levels.
- Bask in Sunlight – In America, the holidays take place during the darkest and coldest time of year. This combination guides a lot of people to stay indoors. Unfortunately, a lack of sunlight is linked to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Impacting up to 20% of adults, SAD is a chronic dip in mood that can cause depression and anxiety. Even though you may need to bundle up, getting outside for at least a few minutes every day can help relieve seasonal stress. From a scientific perspective, both depression and anxiety have been linked to a lack of serotonin, a brain chemical linked to happiness. Sunlight is known to boost serotonin levels. Are you deficient in vitamin D? 75% of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. This number will continue to rise as we spend less time outside, use more sunscreen and our population continues to diversify. Find out if Vitamin D3 is right for you.
- Prioritize Sex – If you are an adult in a monogamous relationship, keep sexual intimacy on your holiday to-do list. The hectic pace many keep over the holidays can easily boot sex off your schedule. However, relaxing, connecting and making love with your partner may be one of the best ways to lower stress levels. Sex is ideal for stress relief. Some studies indicate that stress-related blood pressure is significantly lower in those who recently had sex. Scientists suggest that the “love hormone” oxytocin may be the reason. Sexual activity and orgasm are believed to reduce stress due to the surge of oxytocin that occurs with orgasm. Both men and women can benefit from oxytocin because it reduces expression of the corticotropin releasing factor gene, which regulates the stress response in your brain.
Make this holiday season an enjoyable time, where you are not stressed out and don’t have to worry about your Hepatitis C virus flaring up. In addition to exercising, eating well and sleeping soundly, take additional steps to protect your liver from the effects of stress. Pick the traditions that work best for you, plan for an easy, stress-free month, expose yourself to sunlight, and don’t skimp on sexy time. Whether you want to thwart the Hepatitis C virus or just want to relax, your liver will be grateful for your efforts.
http://www.brainimmune.com/influence-of-psychosocial-stress-on-chronic-viral-hepatitis/, Psychosocial Stress and Chronic Viral Hepatitis, CC Vere, et al, Retrieved December 10, 2017, Brain Immune Media, Ltd, 2017.
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20871440,00.html#you-set-unrealistic-new-year-s-resolutions-0, 20 Habits that Make Holiday Stress Worse, Amanda Gardner, Retrieved December 9, 2017, Health Media Ventures, Inc., 2017.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320304.php, Under the mistletoe: Tips for a happy sex life over the holidays, Yelia Hewings-Martin, PhD, Retrieved December 10, 2017, Healthline Media UK, Ltd, 2017.
https://www.medicinenet.com/tips_to_stay_sane_during_the_holidays/views.htm, 4 Holiday Stress Management Tips, Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Retrieved December 9, 2017, MedicineNet, Inc., 2017.
https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/features/hep-c-manage-stress#2, Stop Stress for Help Against Hepatitis C, John Donovan, Retrieved December 10, 2017, WebMD, LLC, 2017.
https://www.wellcare.com/.../ny_medicaid_member_newsletter_issue4_2015_english.pdf, Tips for Managing Holiday Stress, Retrieved December 10, 2017, WellCare of New York Member Newsletter, 2017.