I don’t know about you, but the holiday season is my favorite time of year. And by “holiday season”, I mean September through December. There’s just so many things to look forward to during these months, and so many amazing traditions that we’ve picked up over the years. However, it’s not all love, kindness, and cheer, is it? Getting families together for holidays can be frustrating for many people. Holiday stress runs rampant, and it is such a hassle when you’re fighting chronic illness. Stress has a way of making your illness stronger and your body weaker. It makes symptoms come back. It takes away your progress. Stress not only makes us sick, but it keeps us sick.
So why, exactly, is stress so bad for us? Well basically, it puts your body into “fight or flight” mode. Your adrenal glands kick into gear, and when you’re always stressed your body stays in a state of perpetual “flight”. The problem with this, is that your adrenal glands are what produces energy for you. And if they’re on all the time, they burn out. You run out of energy, and they lose the ability to keep up with the energy that you require. Then we get tired, but we’re too stressed to sleep so we don’t get to refill our energy tanks as well as we should. It’s a vicious cycle.
When you’ve got a chronic illness, your body needs energy to heal. If we’re constantly stressed out, it sends signals to our body that we’re in immediate danger, so that’s where our energy goes. Our body can’t differentiate everyday stress – the monthly bills being due, a couple extra drinks, some sugar cookies, or family visiting – from the stress of a lion chasing us; it assumes all stress is immediate danger stress! Living in a state of chronic stress means that our healing is always on the back burner. We have to learn how to manage our stress better so that our energy can go toward healing our illness.
Now that we’re in September, the holiday season is quickly approaching. But, as fun as the holidays can be, they are also fairly stressful for the majority of the population. I want to help y’all (and myself) become more prepared for the holiday stress this year so that we can continue our healing through these next few months. Nothing is as disappointing as doing well all year, then falling off at the end of the year. January always feels like starting over, and I for one, am always really bummed out that I didn’t keep my health as my primary focus. Those Christmas cookies just know how to sway me.
The main culprits during the holidays that cause extra stress are finances, family, and unhealthy diets. This is why I’m doing a series this month on Reducing Stress for the Holidays, so make sure you keep coming back to check out the new post each week! We’ll get through this season together, relaxed and carefree!