Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Holiday stress can take a toll on your health

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Buffalo: Holiday stress can take a toll on your health
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There's no question with the shopping, cooking and family associated with this time of year, the holidays can be stressful.

Dr. Scott Treatman, Crouse Hospital Employee Health Director, said, "We're so preoccupied with what if this or worrying about some future event or ruminating about some past event that we just kind of miss being in this moment."

And if you let too much of that stress overwhelm you, it can take a toll on your body.

Dr. Treatman said, "Headaches, sleep disorders, some irritable bowl symptoms. And you can see that lack of ease, that sense of urgency. Everything is urgent. Every email is urgent, and we just become so hyper."

Doctors say that stress also breaks down your immune system. You're more likely to get sick, and chronic conditions are more likely to get worse.

Dr. Kaushal Nanavati, Upstate University Hospital Family Physician, said, "Stress has been linked with a lot of things from everything from obesity to recurrence of cancers, to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease."

Since stress is all around us and pretty much unavoidable, experts say the best way to manage it is to learn to not sweat the small stuff.

Dr. Nanavati said, "Think about stress in two ways. Things that you can do something about and things you can't control. Things that you can do something about, you deal with them out here because once they penetrate in here [the heart], then they get in here [the brain], and then it's hard to deal with them. Things you can't control, you have to leave them on the shelf because ultimately, someone else will take care of them."

Dr. Treatman said, "Start to give things your full attention because when you're paying attention to what's happening in the moment, you can't be stressed about what's going to happen tomorrow or next year, or you can't be ruminating about what happened five minutes ago or five years ago, for that matter."

Experts say yoga, meditation and Tai Chi can help reduce stress. Balance and perspective are also key. Make sure to eat healthy, exercise and when you start to feel stressed, just breathe.

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