5 Tips to Reduce Stress During the Holidays

12. 12. 2017

If you find that stress triggers your acid reflux symptoms, the holidays can be a real pain in the gut. There are several explanations for the connection between stress and acid reflux. Studies shows that people who are feeling stressed have a greater awareness of physical symptoms that may not bother them otherwise. Researchers have also found that stress may activate areas of the brain that make pain receptors in the digestive tract more sensitive.  Another possibility is that stress can reduce the production of substances like prostaglandins, which can coat the lining of the stomach and protect it from acid (Source: Health).

If your stress levels are causing reflux symptoms to flare, here are five tips to make your holidays stress-free:

  1. Make time to exercise. Do not wait until New Year’s Day to make a resolution to get active. Start with small changes. Use your lunch hour to take a brisk walk or attend a fitness class on the weekend. You will be amazed at how exercise reduces stress and improves your reflux symptoms.
  2. Participate in calming activities. After you brave the hustle and bustle of shopping, visiting friends and hosting events, take time for yourself. Listen to some calming music, take a bath or sit down to read a book.
  3. Talk to a friend. The excitement of the holidays can be tainted with sadness if you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. Strained family relationships can also be a source of stress, and sometimes a family gathering can bring on anxiety. Talking to a trusted friend, therapist or clergy member can be soothing to your mind and body.
  4. Get plenty of sleep. Your to-do list is probably a mile long, but nothing is more important than proper sleep when it comes to reducing stress. If you feel well-rested each morning, you will be better equipped to handle the tasks set before you.
  5. Avoid stressful situations. The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they can also be extremely demanding. If stressful situations aggravate your heartburn, you may have to avoid certain environments for the sake of your health. Give yourself permission to politely decline invitations to events that will cause you anxiety or distress. You will probably have fewer episodes of heartburn, and you will have a merrier holiday.

If stress continues to weigh you down and cause frequent bouts of heartburn, visit your doctor to talk about your stress levels.  Sometimes, acid reflux and stress can be cyclical and your doctor may have some helpful insight on how to break that cycle.

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