Stress-free holidays? For many, the holiday season is anything but relaxing, with additional cleaning, baking, shopping and entertaining. Unrealistic expectations, visits from difficult relatives, and demanding holiday preparations can exacerbate problems for those prone to depression. December is also the darkest month of the year and some experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to the short days and lack of sunlight. We want to offer you some tips to enjoy the holiday season and to manage the stress that often accompanies the celebrations.
Massage is a useful tool in regulating mood and reducing the symptoms of depression. Therapeutic massage balances the blood levels of many body chemicals that facilitate the immune system and regulate mood. The biochemical effects of massage benefit energy levels and help alleviate stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is reduced by massage, and the following chemicals are increased:
· Dopamine (regulates the pleasure state and feelings of joy)
· Serotonin (regulates mood, drive states, depression, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders)
· Enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins (mood lifters that support satiety and modulate pain)
· Oxytocin (increases feelings of connectedness)*
It is important to take care of yourself during the holidays. You may suffer from stress, disappointment, and financial concerns, or you may just feel there aren’t enough hours in the day. Remember to get regular exercise and adequate sleep. It also helps to get outside and enjoy the winter sun. Try meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, yoga, or simply sharing your feelings with a close friend. Schedule a massage. All of these things will help you maintain a healthy balance in your life.
For additional information and support, we suggest you check out this lecture offered by Advocate Community Health Beat:
Healthy Holidays: Staying Positive through the Season
Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m.
Laura Segalite, MD
Adriana de Julio, MD
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital’s West End Conference Center
1775 W. Dempster St., Park Ridge, IL 60068
Free valet parking is available and refreshments will be served.
To register, call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1-800-323-8622) Monday - Friday 7am to 7pm or Saturday 9am to 2pm and request Class Code 8G52.
*Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage, 2004, by Sandy Fritz, MS; Massage Has Positive Effects on Biochemistry, 2009 Massage Magazine