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Q: How can I manage stress during the holidays?

Posted November 27, 2013 in Advice Column, Pleasant Hill

A: Stress during the holidays affects us all. There are longer lines, more traffic and numerous family and work obligations. Stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can have a negative effect on our immune system. Unfortunately, we are entering flu season just as the holidays are around the corner. Stress is linked to an increased risk of many health conditions including heart disease, skin conditions such as psoriasis and shingles, anxiety, depression, insomnia, worsening pain, and flare-ups of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis.

Fortunately, there are many ways to lower stress naturally. Endorphins decrease “stress hormones” cortisol and adrenaline which can improve mood. Laughter and exercise both cause a release of endorphins. Deep breathing oxygenates the blood, centers the body and clears the mind. Lack of sleep can cause stress, so be sure to get at least eight hours. Eating healthy is another way to reduce stress. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and fish high in Omega-3. Omega-3 fish oil is shown to decrease symptoms of stress. Green tea contains antioxidants and theanine, which is an amino acid that has a calming effect on the nervous system. Hopefully these tips can help you have a happy holiday season.

Information provided by Jen Alexander, Pharm.D, pharmacy manager, NuCara Pharmacy, 4927 Maple Drive, Pleasant Hill, 515-264-1503.

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