Flexibility is Key
DECEMBER 1, 2011
This year our family's holidays are up in the air. We have a new family project that is set to commence the week of Christmas in a city 300 miles away. This means Christmas celebrations will be flexible, possibly impromptu and definitely not in keeping with our family traditions.
I'm not sure I'll put up a Christmas tree since we won't be piled into the living room opening gifts this year. I don't anticipate spending the afternoons baking goodies: cookies, cakes and pies.
But, rather than getting stressed and tizzified about the break in holiday traditions, I'm concentrating on the gift of my family.
I will still enjoy shopping for a few perfect gifts for those I love. I will still put on music to delight my soul. I will still worship the Reason for the Season. And I will spend the extra time I've gained resting in the gift that is called "my family".
In this month's issue, we've included some great information about stress and the holidays.
Be sure and take time out for yourself this season. Slow down. Rest when you can. Remember the gifts of the season and enjoy!
Here's to a wonderful holiday season for you and your loved ones!
10 Signs of Chronic Stress
DECEMBER 1, 2011
The holiday season, which is supposed to be a relaxing time full of family, friends, celebrations, and love, ends up being a source of increased stress for many women. Some signs of stress are relatively easy to detect: insomnia, headaches, tremors, anxiety, fatigue, heartburn, increased or decreased appetite, and so on. But here are ten symptoms that you may not have realized are often associated with chronic stress:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Excess belching and/or flatulence
Skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis
Recurrent vaginal infections
The longer one stays in a state of high stress, the worse the symptoms are likely to get, and the worse the stress will get in response to the symptoms themselves—a classic vicious cycle. Stress has been linked to a large spectrum of health disorders in virtually every body system, so it is imperative to do what you can to break the cycle of stress during the holidays and beyond. That’s far easier to say than to do, however!
You cannot simply decide to be less stressed and magically become calm and serene instead. De-stressing your life takes a concentrated effort and the help of family and friends. Set aside guilt-free time every single day for prayer, meditation, yoga, or other relaxing endeavors. For some women, sitting in a darkened room listening to some relaxing tunes, or watching a mindless sit-com is enough.
Others prefer to exercise to “get it out of their system” and detox with some good, clean sweat. You might even try the clichéd but effective method of indulging in a scented bubble bath with some candles and a good novel. The key is to make your relaxation as important as the massive to-do list that is stressing you out the rest of the time.
You absolutely deserve and need a little “me time,” so make it a priority. Tell your family and friends what you are doing and why it is important. Delegate some of your to-do list to them and be uncompromising about your down-time. Return the favor to them so that they can de-stress as well, and you will have given and received one of the best Christmas gifts of all!
’Tis the Season...to Take a Break
DECEMBER 1, 2011
Whether you're hosting family, traveling to faraway destinations, or just trying to find that last gift on your list, the holidays can take a lot out of you. Especially if you're recovering from a hysterectomy or dealing with hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause.
Here are some tips for dealing with the holidays:
- Take some time for yourself. This can be difficult if your house is packed with family members, but try to find a place (even if it's out of the house) where you can take a moment to read a magazine, watch TV, browse the Internet, or just breathe.
- Ask for some help. Sure, you're a whiz with ribbon, but why not save time and opt for in-store gift wrapping? If you're hosting a holiday meal, ask guests to bring an appetizer, a dessert, or a bottle of wine. And if gift shopping feels like just too much this year, consider shopping online, handing out gift certificates, or making a charitable donation in the recipient's name.
- Leave the roasting to the chestnuts. Now is not the time to be roasting like a turkey or to let certain symptoms associated with menopause get in the way of your celebration. Ask your doctor to see if estrogen therapy can help treat your moderate to severe hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
How Exercise Works to Fight Stress
DECEMBER 1, 2011
When you aren’t physically active, the idea of exercise being one of your best weapons against stress sounds crazy. What could be more stressful than forcing yourself to do something that is difficult, boring, tiring, and painful? While all of this may be true when you are first beginning an exercise regimen after being sedentary for a long time, it does gradually get easier if you keep it up. Plus, the benefits of regular exercise extend far beyond losing a little weight or getting your heart rate up for a few minutes each day. You will very likely find after settling into a daily exercise routine that you sleep better, you have better stamina, your concentration improves, you have less overall pain, you breathe better, and you handle stress much more effectively than you used to. In addition, being in better shape before a major surgery can help you heal and recover more quickly, and it may even help to fight infections.
Exercise does all this by improving circulation and respiration, keeping muscles and connective tissues strong and limber, stretching and softening scar tissue, releasing endorphins, and sweating out toxins. Virtually every system in your body benefits from regular exercise, as does your mental health.
If you are not physically active, the idea of starting to exercise can be daunting and unattractive. The key is to start out with modest activities and goals. Just move. You don’t have to start out running two miles per day—start out just walking the block at a leisurely pace. Be proud when you meet a goal, no matter how small. Don’t let excuses stop you, either. A common excuse is unpleasant weather. If it’s too hot, cold, or wet to walk outside, walk a circuit around your local mall instead. Make a commitment to walk with a friend so that you are accountable to someone and are less likely to make excuses not to do it on any given day.
What about pain? If it’s too painful to exercise, you probably won’t do it. Try water aerobics to eliminate stress on joints. Consider swimming laps if you don’t like group exercise. Start with just one lap and work up from there. Go dancing. Volunteer in your church’s child-care center. Do leg lifts while you watch television. Find ways to make it less boring, and it will help take your mind off the pain. Gradually, your pain will decrease as stiff joints and muscles begin to gradually loosen and get stronger. The more you exercise, the less it will hurt over time.
Some women find that joining women-only fitness programs, such as Curves, is a fun and easy way to get back into exercising regularly in a judgment-free group environment. They make friends and meet up regularly to pass the time together while burning calories. The more fun you can find in your exercise, the more likely you are to do it long-term. If you are surrounded by friends, set reasonable goals, and reward yourself regularly for your successes, it is possible to realistically make a lifestyle change for the better. Exercise helps your body and mind to be in balance, which will help you to fight stress every day.
Taming the To-Do's
DECEMBER 1, 2011
Is your “to-do” list out of control? Does thinking about all the things you have to accomplish each day cause your heart rate to increase and your palms to begin sweating? Can you feel the stress set in each morning the moment you open your eyes? If so, youre definitely not alone. But there are some things you can do to tame the to-do’s and get your life back under control.
If you have a smart phone, try a GTD (getting things done) app that will help you organize your tasks by urgency and category. This will help you to winnow down a dauntingly long list into just the most important tasks for the day. It’s also very satisfying to check things off and watch them disappear.
Delegate tasks to others whenever possible. You don’t have to be a superwoman all the time. Keep the tasks that only you can do, or that you do best, and give away the less important ones to friends, family members, or co-workers who are better able to handle them.
Do as many things from home as you can so that you don’t have to spend as much time in traffic, stressing out about getting to the next place instead of getting to cross another thing off your list. Shop online. Take care of bills over the phone or online. Have meetings by conference calls or web cameras. Ask people if you can scan and email documents rather than mail them. Don’t go to the post office until you have all your packages ready so that you only have to go once. In other words, consider how you can cut down travel time and time waiting in lines at every opportunity. Your time is precious, and using it wisely will help you to reduce your overall stress level.
If you’ve done everything you can to shorten and manage your to-do list and it’s still too much, then accept the fact that something has to go. Sit down and list the activities in your life by order of importance—put those things that are absolutely non-negotiable on top, and put the optional stuff at the bottom. Cut out the thing at the bottom of the list, no matter how much you’d rather not do it, to preserve your sanity and health.
Know that if you walk away from over-commitment, everything else you do is likely to improve as well—you can do too many things not very well, or you can do fewer things better. Decide what is truly important to you and let go of the things that are not so important to you as gracefully as you can. You don’t have to wait to make a New Year's resolution to improve your life. Do it today.
From the HysterSisters Forums
DECEMBER 1, 2011
We've started a discussion about ways we plan to interrupt the stress of the "hurry hurry" of the holiday season with purposeful plans of fun and celebration. What will you do to ward off stress during this busy time? What plans will you make to add extra fun to the season?
Join the Discussion
More Information and Links
DECEMBER 1, 2011
Be our fan on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Check out our Calendar of Events
Order a free booklet: What 100,000 Women Know About Hysterectomy
Find off-topic Chatter with Friends in our forums
Visit the Hystersisters Store