Fighting stress during the holidays

Ryan Lawson, Exercise Specialist

It is that time of year again; the cooling temperature compounded by extra commitments of the holiday season leads to more stress and less physical activity. With proper planning and a positive approach, you will discover that even a little bit of exercise throughout the day can diffuse stress and lead to a saner, more energetic you!

In response to stress, the body goes into what is called “fight or flight” mode. More common this time of year, this reaction leads to a release of adrenaline, increased heart rate and a shunting of blood flow that results in a surge of energy and strength. Unfortunately, this reaction often occurs in situations, such as waiting in line or during a stressful day of work, where an appropriate outlet is not possible.

A perfectly acceptable response and an integral facet of a stress management program, exercise provides the perfect outlet to your “fight or flight” reaction. Exercise also provides a distraction, improves overall efficiency and makes you feel better! Focus on quality over quantity; penciling in even 20 minutes of your day for exercise can pay major dividends.

There is no reason you cannot stay lean and enjoy your holidays. As with anything, a realistic approach and plan is crucial.

Here are some tips to make this a reality:

  • Plan ahead – make an exercise calendar, targeting the best days to commit.
  • Complete a tough workout before the party – be proactive and burn calories before hand so you can cheat a bit on your diet without the guilt.
  • Don’t succumb to excuses – if you find yourself making excuses, write them down to analyze and evaluate. If you have to miss a day, don’t dwell on it, forget about it and get back on track!
  • Do what you enjoy – by doing exercise you like, you will look forward to it instead of treating it like a chore.
  • Mix it up – changing up your routine can inject benefits as well as avoiding boredom. Need ideas; see an exercise specialist.
  • Partner Up – knowing someone else is going to be there promotes accountability. Plus, it makes the time go by faster.
  • Set goals – looking for a guilt-free reason to reward yourself; set a fitness goal, and once you accomplish it, reward yourself!

Ryan Lawson is an Exercise Specialist with Riverview Rehab & Fitness.