How Holiday Stress May Cause More Harm Than You Think

As the holiday season approaches, you may find yourself juggling preparations for holiday parties, shopping for gifts, or traveling to visit family. With all this going on and more, sometimes the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful. Stress in high amounts for a long period can be bad for your body, but did you know that chronic stress could potentially lead to hearing loss?

Experiencing some stress in life is normal. It’s a primal response meant to prepare you to react and adjust to a situation. But when ignored, stress can impact your health both mentally and physically. Heart disease, which has been connected to hearing loss, is just one of the health problems that can be caused by being under stress long-term. Heart disease affects blood flow to your brain. And when there is a lack of blood supply to the inner ear, the hair cells that conduct sound to your auditory cortex suffer. This disruption of blood flow in the inner ear or to other parts of your brain that process sound can lead to hearing loss.

Try these tips to help you manage some of the stress you might be experiencing this holiday season.

Find time for exercise.
Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind during the holiday season. But research shows that there is a link between exercise and your mood. Exercise and other physical activities stimulates and releases endorphins, the chemical in your brain that lifts your mood and leaves you feeling more relaxed. A brisk 30-minute walk three to five times a week is all it takes to help relief some of the stress that you might be feeling. Other activities to try include: jogging, biking, swimming, or dancing.

Get enough sleep.
Sleep is a crucial function that allows your brain to recharge and your body to rest. Not getting enough can affect your moods and leave you feeling agitated and irritable. Being sleep deprived can also lower tolerance for stress and compromise your ability to manage it. Make sleep a priority and try going to bed at a reasonable hour. Limiting your intake of caffeine and avoiding bright screens a few hours before bedtime can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Make time for yourself.
There’s always so much going on during the holidays that you might find you don’t have enough time for yourself. But scheduling “me time” can be a good way to deal with stress, as it allows you to clear your mind and take a breather. Carving out as little as 15 minutes a day for relaxing or doing things you enjoy can help you recharge, and take your mind off the list of things you have to do.

Don’t forget to laugh.
Time spent with family and friends can lead to everyone reminiscing about the good times, the bad, and sometimes the straight-out embarrassing. Having a good sense of humor and sharing a laugh with your loved ones this holiday season can actually improve your health. Laughter releases endorphins and relaxes the body, relieving some of the stress and anxiety you’re feeling. So, laughter really can be the best medicine.

Be realistic.

You probably feel pressure to create the perfect holiday. Studies show that having extremely high expectations can lead to higher stress levels. Setting realistic expectations for the holiday season and taking the pressure off yourself can help alleviate stress. Instead of sweating every detail, focus on spending time celebrating and enjoying the company of your loved ones.