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Thursday, 15 December 2011

How To Manage Your Stress During The Christmas Rush

I’m trying to beat my column deadline. Unbelievable schedule of rushing from work, and playing reindeer delivering gifts, down to the traditional get-togethers — all in the spirit of Christmas. At the rate I’m going, I must say, I’ve done a decent job this year with my Christmas list compared to last year.

And yet, there is no way that I can attend all the Christmas parties with the Christmas rush. MMDA’s Christmas lanes have done little to augment the traffic situation in Edsa. But, that’s Christmas. A stressful Christmas for all of us.

Dr. Marcellus Ramirez, former chair of the Philippine Heart Association Council on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, warns against the increase incidence of heart attack and stroke during the Christmas Season, brought about by stress, and the food that we eat and the cold weather. And aside from this, we should be wary of what is called Holiday Heart Syndrome, or the irregular heartbeat after a drinking binge. The heart reacts to the toxic effects of alcohol. The symptoms include dizziness, difficulty in breathing, palpitations. In worse cases, though rarely, it may also lead to sudden death.

I’ve had my fill of buffalo wings, ribs, paella, salmon with cheese and garlic. I was the first to finish our meal, but dessert, who can really resist it? It was more like a buffet dessert: Chocolate cake, sans rival and Mango cake, combined with delectable coffee. Had two cups of brewed coffee, and another cup of cappuccino — a total of three. Had a sip of wine. Good thing I don’t like alcohol.

“Stay away from the buffet table during parties, the farther you are from the table, the better,” says Cardiologist Dr. Willie Ong.

You lose track of how full you are amidst all the conversation. To avoid binging, it’s best that you go to a party with a semi-full stomach, and use smaller plates. Also prepare healthier options on your menu like greens.

It’s best to be healthy now than regret it later.

How to deal with stress. Given that I’ve done a better job this year in managing my Christmas stress. We feel the surge of adrenalin during this season, but there are ways to manage our stress. Here are my few tips:

1. Prepare early. I started my list of To-Dos last October, bought gifts by November, and I should be done by delivering presents next week.

2. If you didn’t do No.1, quit cramming. Let go. You can’t accomplish everything anyway.

3. Delegate or ask for help. Just when I thought I have so many presents to wrap all by myself, came reinforcement: My Grandma, my ninang and sis-in-law. I also plan to hire a driver for a day to help me deliver our gifts if I don’t finish doing it myself. Tip: It’s good to deliver gifts on an early weekend morning, say 7 a.m.? It works for me.

3. Say no. It is very hard not to go to all the invitations, but with the traffic that we have, you really have to choose which ones to go and accept. Quality vs. quantity. I’d rather go to a few parties and be present, than to be in most and fleeting.

4. Stop. Nothing spoils Christmas than rushing all the way. Christmas is in the air, savor the cool wind (ehem, the smog), enjoy the Christmas cheer!

5. Get enough rest. If you have a late-night party to attend, make time to rest during the day. Pace yourself.

I love Christmas... the noche buena, the get-togethers, the reunions... it’s fun, fun, fun. But let this not consume us in what the season truly is about — the birthday of Jesus.

I planned early for Christmas, because I don’t want to miss Him. And if all the stress is consuming you, it’s not worth it. Let go and celebrate Christmas.

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