What Holiday Stress Does to Your Brain

vcsPRAsset 3433757 83448 9bb490e0 ac2e 4e15 90f3 089b04a47d48 0Festive stress can affect your health more than you realize. Soon, people around the globe will begin the dizzying array of seasonal demands like shopping for gifts, baking cookies, going to parties, cleaning, entertaining, and more.

This season is meant to bring feelings of joy and cheer, but for a growing number of people, it brings anxiety. According to a 2006 survey from APA, 38% of people reported elevated levels of stress during the holidays. This number has increased dramatically over the past decade. A recent survey from Healthline said that 62% of people feel moderate to extreme stress.

While the exact statistics vary from year to year, the conclusion is obvious: holiday anxiety is very real and it is an issue that many of us face. We have come to accept festive stress as part of the holiday season – much to the detriment of our wellness and our brain health.

According to Neuroscience expert Dr. Patrick Porter, there are many things you can do to deactivate the body’s stress response.

“Stress changes the brain in many ways, from impairing short-term memory to increasing the likelihood of mental health disturbances. It’s important that we learn to manage this stress, especially this time of year…”

..says Dr. Porter. After the holidays, people feel mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. And it’s totally understandable, this time of year has a lot of moving parts. The planning and preparation for social gatherings, gift-giving, and travel is a drain on mental energy. The physical demands of shopping, baking and decorating (not to mention excessive eating) impacts our bodies.

“Since we know this stress is coming, we can ready our brain for it. To do this we must shift our cognitive strategies to respond to the changes in our environment,” says Dr. Porter.

So how can we shift our cognitive strategies? According to Dr. Porter, simply being mindful of your emotions is the first step. Actively observing your own thoughts and feelings helps you better understand where the stress is coming from so you can manage it more effectively. Mindfulness activities like meditating and journaling can help. Making sleep a priority is also key. Our bodies and brains repair themselves during our sleep cycles. When the quality or quantity of our sleep is poor, we miss out on the restoration process. We are less focused, less resilient, and we have fewer internal resources for managing stress and anxiety.

Remember, a little mindfulness and self-care go a long way. The holidays are meant to be a joyful time but if you are stressed and miserable, no one wins. It’s vital to include yourself in the season of giving. Carving out time for self-care prevents burnout and makes for a happier healthier holiday.

Dr. Patrick K. Porter, PhD, is an award-winning author and speaker who has devoted his career to neuroscience and brainwave entrainment. As the creator of BrainTap Technology™, Porter has emerged as a leader in the digital health and wellness field. BrainTap’s digital tools and mind development apps use Creative Visualization and Relaxation, a biohacking technique that has made tremendous advances in treating mental, physical, and emotional health issues. Braintap has been praised for helping people overcome stress and insomnia, lose weight, stop smoking, manage pain, accelerate learning, and much more.


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The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.