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November 2015

Happy Holidays, and welcome to this month’s article! Are you prepared for the busy holiday season? Try to make your plans early, so you can stay in better control of your schedule.

Here’s hoping you’re able to spend some relaxing moments this year with those special people in your life.

This month's article shares some great suggestions for reducing your stress levels during the holiday season that you should find helpful.

Of course, there’s never a better time to get your regular massages, the most enjoyable way to keep that stress in check—just make a call to schedule!

Studies abound that confirm massage’s health benefits; here’s a brief excerpt from

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It's increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.

Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

Have a wonderful holiday season; see you soon!

Ways to Fight Holiday Stress

Walk away from worries— "The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep," says nutrition-and-wellness expert Ann Kulze, MD. Aim for a brisk, half-hour walk every day.

Do less, enjoy more— "We go overboard to please others during the holidays: shopping, cooking, sending cards, and attending every event," says George Pratt, PhD, a psychologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in California. "Instead, take care of yourself by saying no at least once—and maybe more."

Stick with your daily routine— Prioritize your workouts, book club, etc., and don't try to squeeze in more holiday than you can handle, says Katherine Muller, PsyD, an assistant professor of psychology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Don't neglect whatever cracks you up— Laughing like crazy reduces stress hormones. That, in turn, helps immune cells function better, says psychologist Steve Wilson, founder of the World Laughter Tour, an organization that offers therapeutic-laughter training.

Forget perfection— Stop obsessing over doing it all. The world is not going to end if the house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. "Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life," says Donna Schempp, the program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance. Don't sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable!

Be a picky volunteer— Take on only one or two holiday jobs, and learn how to delegate parts of a task, advises Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Counseling Center at Pace University in New York.

Go tech-free— Constant cell phone buzzes and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline. Not only is this exhausting, but it contributes to mounting stress levels, especially in women. What better time to turn your gadgets off than during a holiday get-together? Enjoy spending time with your family and friends without worry.

Savor a spicy meal— Hot foods trigger the release of endorphins—the natural chemicals that trigger feelings of euphoria and well-being, Dr. Kulze says.

Turn up the tunes— Anxious? Listen to your favorite music, whether it's Jingle Bell Rock or the latest from Jay-Z. Research from the University of Maryland shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. That not only calms you down but is good for your heart, too.

Fit in exercise— It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you're stressed out, but going for a run or hitting the gym can actually make you feel better. Research has found that workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.

Don't overschedule— If you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your holiday agenda, don't over schedule your time and take on more than you can manage. Remember: It's OK to slow down a bit.

Plan a real vacation— Taking at least four or five days off work dramatically lowers your stress level. If you have kids and opt for a staycation during the holidays, take turns with your partner doing kid-dutyor send them off to their own vacation at grandma's.

Think positive— The holidays may drive you to your breaking point, but don't focus on the bad. Negative thinking can trigger the your body's stress response, just as a real threat does. Remember, it's time to celebrate with your family and friends (even if they do stress you out!). An optimistic outlook will help you cope with challenges that come your way.


Margarine is a killer— Doctors have long advised people to limit their consumption of saturated fats found in butter, cream, and meats. But new research shows that these fats, derived from animal products, actually don’t increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, or diabetes. The study found that industrially produced trans fats, found in margarine, snack foods, and packaged baked goods, do raise the risk of premature death by 34 percent. The Canadian project was the largest yet of its kind: Researchers looking at 50 studies involving more than 1 million people found that trans fats were also associated with a 28 percent increased risk of death from coronary heart disease and a 21 percent risk of cardiovascular disease. The study contradicts decades of conventional wisdom about saturated fats dating back to the 1950s. “That said, we aren’t advocating an increase of the allowance of saturated fats,” study author Russell de Souza of McMaster University tells The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). Saturated fats may not cause heart disease, he says, but they can lead to weight gain.

—The WEEK August 27, 2015

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can
sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
—Charles Dudley

The content of this article is not designed to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
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