7 Ways to Reduce Stress and Depression
Before the holidays come and go, I wanted to share my last tidbit from Send Me On Vacation – Mermaid Journey and I think it is fitting, especially since Holiday = Stress for many individuals diagnosed with or without cancer. We all manage stress differently and the goal is to lower our “Stress Threshold”. On day 3 of the Mermaid Transformation, we discussed how the threshold varies with every person. We are individually responsible to understand and respect our own threshold.
( I seem so relaxed as I put into practice my stress free lifestyle in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)
The holidays bring with it a variety of emotions and for many, new anxieties. Last year at this time, I was diligently going to my daily radiation treatments. I would drive the 55 minutes to and from each appointment and then the 10 minute procedure. It was exhausting. I was hit with fatigue, nervousness, fear, sadness, nausea, I had all of it. I was not in the holiday spirit. It took all I had to try to bring joy into my home to normalize the season to create comfort for my children. This task was not easy. I would focus on the moment that I had with them, reminding myself that – It could be my last.
Now, one year later, I am celebrating another Christmas with my loved ones.
How BLESSED am I?
My heart is beyond full when I think about how far we have come as a family. We went from such grim and sadness during the holiday season to a profound gratitude and pure joy for another year together. I am not going to pretend that the year leading up to this time has been easy breezy- but it has been beautiful.
Our stress level has significantly lowered- we have not allowed the threshold to increase and overwhelm us.
We have made strides to focus on our happiness and our future- TOGETHER.
For some time, I was trying to manage my heartache and my emotions after cancer alone- my husband has helped to prove to me that it is TOGETHER when Ill grow stronger. More than ever, I rely on his compassion and unshakeable love for me and our children. Again, how BLESSED am I?
For example, PTSD is rearing its little head, especially since, I am currently suffering from an eight week cold.
EVERYTIME I get sick, I imagine the worst case scenario and I become an emotional mess.
I see it coming, I know what’s happening, but I can’t stop it from temporarily taking over.
So far, meditation has worked. My husband continues to be that extra concerned and comforting man and ALWAYS willing to talk through the hurt. (He is one of my “Go To” people- keep reading)
Stress before and after cancer exists because our bodies have gone through so much. We are anticipating the worse, hoping for the best and experiencing emotional and physical pain. It’s only natural to STRESS. What most cancer patients are made aware of is the negative impact that stress can continue to have.
You are in luck- here is my list to prevent holiday STRESS and DEPRESSION.
Cancer patients get a double whammy and as you know, the key is PREVENTION.
Keep these in mind as you bring in the NEW YEAR and the NEW YOU!
Preventing Holiday Stress and Depression
When you are in the midst of a stressful situation, it can be challenging to think it through and regroup, but PREVENTING the stress is one of the best ways to ensure a happy holiday season.
BREATHE and MEDITATE: If you read my previous post, then you know that the best way to change your BRAIN is to meditate. This directly effects your stress level. If you are feeling overwhelmed from the shopping crowds, the never ending energy from the kids, or the annoying family members- remove yourself from it all and take 7 minutes to breathe and meditate. Specifically breathe in this mantra: I am that: ___________. Fill in the blank.
I like to say. “I am that, calm and joyous light in my life. I am that, healthy and cancer free woman.”
ONLY 7 minutes. You can do anything for 7 minutes!
CHECK IN with your FEELINGS: Acknowledge what is going on, whether those feeling are anxiety, sadness, fear or all the above. Be honest with yourself and allow your feelings to be heard. Ignoring it can make it worse.
DETERMINE your holiday EXPECTATIONS: MAYBE, just maybe, you can’t manage to be the host for your annual Family Christmas Dinner for 30, right now. Slow it down and be realistic. Pass it on to someone else this year and maybe next year too.
SLEEP: When you sleep you are healing your body.
Check out these videos:
Keep MOVING: Go for a stroll, do yoga, or hit the gym. Keep your hormones and stress levels low by working up a sweat. Remember that there are these fancy chemicals like endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine that bring happiness and pleasure when your body is moving.
FIND your GO TO Person: We all have one and if you don’t, get one. This is someone that you can easily tell everything to and there isn’t any strings or judgment. You can divulge all your secrets and this person still thinks you’re awesome. Could be your mom, a church friend, your oldest best friend, a spouse or even your dog. It might be a challenge to find that person, and if that’s the case, go to the person you most trust and ask if they are up to being your “go to person”. We should all have at least one person, other than ourselves, to advocate for us!
Heart of GRATITUDE: Above all else, practice this. You get to experience one more beautiful year with your loved ones. Embrace this time and don’t let stress take it away from you. Take a look at something that touches your heart. It may be your children, your pet, a plant. Whatever it is that makes you smile, take in the moment and be grateful for that. God has blessed you with one more moment to cherish.
Wishing you all the peace and love during the holiday season! Stay healthy and stress-free!