Handling Holiday Stress

Janine Gauthier, a psychologist at Rush, participated in our Rush On Call Q&A last week about staying healthy over the holidays. Here’s her advice about stress management:

There are some basic stress management techniques we can incorporate each and every day.

  1. Deep abdominal breathing — breathing in your belly
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation — relaxing one muscle group at a time until your entire body is relaxed
  3. Massage therapy — this promotes relaxation both physical and emotional
  4. Yoga — central to yoga is deep breathing
  5. Guided imagery — imaging yourself in a very relaxing place
  6. Physical exercise — engaging in cardiovascular exercise helps to promote endorphins in our body which helps us mangage stress
  7. Mindfulness meditation — where you allow yourself to do a body scan to find where you hold your stress and then allowing self to breathe and stay in the present moment.

The nice thing is that many of these strategies (breathing, mindfulness) you can engage in even when you are in the mall, in the car, standing in line or with family and friends. The goal is to make these a regular part of your life, which will become more natural the more often you engage in them, and you will find your are managing life more effectively.

Gauthier is the director of psychosocial oncology and director of clinical services for the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush. She’s also an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University.

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