Chambersburg Chiropractic: 5 ways to reduce holiday stressStress can do a real number on our health. When you’re stressed, your muscles tense, your blood pressure rises, adrenaline and other hormones rush through your bloodstream, and even your appetite and immune system act differently. Chronic stress is a huge factor in a lot of the maladies we see in our office:

muscle pain, headaches, acid reflux and more. What’s worse, it can contribute to long-term, life-threatening conditions including heart disease.

Our philosophy at Chambersburg Chiropractic is to treat the underlying causes, not just the symptoms. Finding ways to relieve stress in your life is more than a luxury—so much of your health depends on it!

Unfortunately, while the holiday season is supposed to be a time of peace and cheer, often it can make stress in our lives worse. Here are some tips to reduce holiday stress and protect your health this season.

Set realistic expectations

The holidays sometimes come with the false expectation that a particular day or week has to be perfect, and that idea can be a great formula for disappointment. So don’t expect perfection. No matter how hard you work to create the perfect evening, you can’t prevent things like your in-laws getting stuck in traffic or the weather interfering with your plans. Keep things in perspective, laugh it off and go with the flow. Switching your expectations from “Hallmark-movie perfect” to “pretty good” will relieve a lot of the stress you can put on yourself.

Budget your energy

Remind yourself that you have physical and emotional limits. You can’t possibly go to every party, participate in every holiday fundraiser, and be involved in every school or religious program—so don’t try to! Part of the stress of the holiday season can come from the feeling that you’re being shuffled from one activity to another with little say in how you spend your time.

So choose those things that are most important to you and graciously decline those that aren’t meaningful to you or the people you care about most. Not only will you prevent holiday burnout, but you’ll also feel that what you do participate in is time well spent. 

Take care of your body

The human body can’t go nonstop without physical or emotional rest. Carve out a few minutes each day to take a walk, eat a quiet lunch with no interruptions, or take a nap. You might also make sure each week has at least one quiet evening to spend at home—whatever you need to recuperate. Doing so can give you the emotional or physical recharge you need to tackle the rest of your busy schedule while reducing the sense of strain.

Also, make sure you don’t sacrifice your good health habits—eating right, physical activity, regular chiropractic care—just because you feel pressured to get all of the holiday stuff done. You still need to protect your health, especially at this busy time of year!

Simplify where you can

Traditions can be great, but sometimes they can become burdensome in themselves. If it’s more stress than it’s worth, then consider changing things up and going for something simpler.

For example, do you really need to impress your dinner guests with a multi-course gourmet meal, or will you have a more fun with a pot of hearty soup and time for some impromptu caroling? Do you really need to stand in long lines to get this year’s trendiest toy, or will your kids have just as much fun with some stuffed animals, tried-and-true board games and a craft kit?

Figure out what’s really meaningful about each tradition and shed the stuff you’re just doing out of habit.

Keep the big picture in mind

Hopefully the holidays mean more to you than just attending parties, eating sugary foods and spending money. Don’t lose sight of what it’s really all about!

Also remember that the reason a lot of traditions are in place is to foster happy memories and strengthen the bonds between people. Don’t strive so hard for perfection that you create a stressful environment for those around you. Your family and friends probably won’t remember that the turkey was a bit overcooked this year, or that the holiday decorations were slightly lopsided. What they will remember is the kindness and joy you shared with them.

As Maya Angelou observed, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


We hope some of these tips will help take some of the pressure off the holidays so you can feel at your peak and enjoy what really matters.


Photo credit: Robby Mueller via Compfight