Happy Holidays from DermLetter

Feeling overwhelmed by the holiday season? Not all is cheery during the holidays, once you’re no longer a child. Mandatory shopping, short daylight, year-end deadlines, and the strains on the finances can bring out stress.

Stress is often known as the silent assassin, and despite it being the season to be jolly, there are actually many factors that make the holiday season quite stressful for a lot of people. It’s common around this time of the year to be busy for many workplaces, trying to finish off the year-end work, or in retail, it may be prime time to bring in the sales. On top of that, there’s this matter of going through the checklist of utterly undesirable but completely obligatory meetings that all pile up around this time. Add alcohol, hearty foods, a change from your regular routine, and all of this can do a number on your skin, as well as your overall health if you let stress go uncontrolled. In fact, the thought of all this is, itself, a source of stress for those that are prone to anxiety. Usually we’re the nagging health gurus, but sometimes, it pays to be pragmatic.

1. Have fun!

Have that turkey, gravy, and chocolate cake! While it’s true that most of us gain weight during December, the average is only a pound--not a big deal. It’s not realistic for most people to stay the course, resist all the temptations, all the while seething with stress. One practical advice--don’t leave yourself hungry by skipping a meal. Eat full square meals, and keep yourself satiated. If you skip lunch because you’ve got a party in the afternoon, guess what kinds of food you’re going to eat a ton of to compensate with?

2. Get some sunlight!

The days are short in December for most of our readers. If you work in an office building, you might be getting close to no sunlight if you are working a 9 to 5 schedule. While we often warn people against excessive sun exposure, seasonal affective disorder is not uncommon, and everyone needs some sunlight to lift their mood. It doesn’t take much sun to lighten the mood; take that extra effort to take a walk during your lunch break instead of staying locked up indoors.

3. Go drinking (if you drink)...in moderation

A few discouraging facts. Alcohol is not only bad for your skin (it’s dehydrating), but it increases appetite, leading to added calories. It’s often the combination of high calorie foods with alcohol (high in calories itself) that gangs up to pack on the pounds. This said, alcohol is so tied in with the holidays, that it’s often quite tough to decline drinking altogether.

4. Get some sleep

Sleep is often something that we don’t think too much about. Your body is capable of recovering from a lot of stress, but sleep is what does the magic. Recovery from injury, stress, and fatigue, are all an important function of sleep. So really, it’s when your body is stressed that sleep is most needed, but many people make the mistake of putting sleep on the chopping block first. You don’t have to pass on the parties--often you can’t--but on the normal days, take extra care to get to bed early, and make sure that your body gets the rest that it needs.

5. Relax, and give yourself a break

Trying to keep a strict schedule during the holidays is like fighting the tide. If you have an iron will, this might not apply to you, but for most people, it’s more prudent to go with the flow, rather than fighting tooth and nail against anything unhealthy. The key is moderation, rather than abstinence.

Ask DermLetter