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Christmas Stress? This will interest you

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in Various | Posted on 29-12-2016

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Christmas Day, Boxing Day… These two days can be crazy and a survival test when it comes to food, chocolate, family, spending….

We have more social commitments with family, friends and work colleagues at this time than at any other time of year.

All of which are precisely what cause our stress levels to rise.

Anxiety, apprehension, mood swings, depression and irritability are some of the most common symptoms resulting from stress at Christmas.

With this in mind we are speaking to Dr Alba Rodriguez, specialist in General Internal Medicine, and together we are going to look at Christmas stress as well as some of the most common conditions at this time of year, so that nothing sours what should be a happy time.

The start of a new year is the ideal time to begin focusing on our health.


Is it true that cases of stress increase during the Christmas period?

Yes, Christmas can be a very demanding time of year. Attending and organising social events, along with the costs involved, can make it a highly stressful period. This stress is notably most common amongst women.


How does Christmas stress affect our bodies?

Stress can affect our mood, tending to make us angry, irritable, sad or anxious. It can also cause headaches, muscle tension, digestive problems, nausea and breathing difficulties, to name but a few.


Dietary overload is around the corner, how does this lack of control affect our health?

During this period alcohol consumption increases as does our intake of salt, fatty foods and carbohydrates, leading to weight gain. This can result in an increase in cardiovascular problems and a deterioration in general health in those people who suffer from certain conditions.

Although this is a time of family reunions, it is important to try not to eat to excess. With a little imagination we can replace classic Christmas food with lighter, healthier meals (avoiding fatty sauces or too many alcoholic drinks, preparing main meals in the oven or under the grill, providing vegetable based dishes and fruit desserts as some of the options).


What are the most common illnesses during the holiday period?

Temperatures drop at this time of year, making respiratory infections the most common problem, including colds, flu and pneumonia amongst others. Consultations for digestive problems are also common, in many cases resulting from the typical excesses already mentioned.


Is Christmas a cardiovascular risk factor?

Rather than Christmas itself, the typical stresses and excesses which accompany this time of year are the cause of increased cardiovascular risk.


Do “Christmas heart attacks” occur?

After several studies, an increase in cardiac events and deaths has been observed during this holiday period, in the USA an increase has been confirmed especially on the 25th, 26th December and 1st January. Amongst the causes which could explain this are: psychological stress, alcohol and other substance abuse, delaying visiting the doctor until after the holidays as well as the cold temperatures which affect patients with respiratory symptoms.


Any advice for this time of year?

Organisation is important to combat stress. Making a list of things that you have to do, drawing up a budget to control spending and delegating or requesting help are measures to keep in mind. It is also important to make sure you get the right amount of sleep and try to avoid family conflict as much as possible.

Physical exercise is fundamental at this time as it helps to combat stress and can contribute to compensating for dietary excess.