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The holidays are here! Why am I stressed?

Happy Thanksgiving week! I love the holiday season. It’s a time where you can socialize with family and friends you might not have seen in awhile, and reflect on what you’re thankful for. It’s a time of hot cocoa, reindeers, baking, and Christmas movies. It’s magical and exciting – and also stressful. In fact, all of the potential triggers for tension headaches and migraines are out in full force during the holiday season: eating terribly, not exercising, and wacky sleep and eating schedules. And nothing takes the joy out of the season faster than a pounding headache. Luckily, there are ways you can manage the craziness of this time of the year and still keep your holidays jolly.

    Plan in advance. The holidays can be a whirlwind of parties, shopping, and visiting family and friends. Instead of getting caught up in the flurry, plan out everything in advance. Designate the days when you’re planning to do your Christmas shopping. Mark the times of holiday parties and social events – and don’t forget to set aside some down time for yourself. After all, nothing can reduce stress as well as having a few hours to yourself each week. It’s a time where you can decompress and recharge in the midst of the holiday craziness. And don’t feel like you have to attend every single holiday event that sends an invite your way. Choose only the parties you really want to go to – that way, you can look forward to them and not stress out about when you’re going to have to leave Party A to get to Party B on time.

    Keep a regular sleep and eating schedule. As well as your can, keep to your regular eating and sleeping habits. Doing so allows your body to rest and recover from the jam-packed days and stave off hunger – both of which are recipes for headaches. Limit your intake of alcohol, alternating drinks with glasses of water. If you’re particularly susceptible to headaches, try to avoid red wine, as it contains an amino acid that can trigger them. And those Hickory Farms gift sets we know and love? Go easy on them, as processed meats and ripe cheeses can also trigger headaches. Chocolate, too.

    Limit exposure to smoke and perfume. Too much of each can cause headaches in even the least sensitive among us. So while those perfume gift set displays at Macy’s look all bright and shiny and attractive, try not to get too caught up in sniffing those fragrances. And don’t resort to smoking to relax! Get some fresh air, and meditate, or just breathe deeply for a couple of minutes when things start to feel out of control.

    Just because this time of the year can threaten to ruin your holiday spirit and turn you into the Grinch, doesn’t mean you have to succumb to these triggers and bury your head in your warm blankets until everything is over. A little planning, eating and sleeping regularly, and avoiding overwhelming smells can ensure you get through the holidays without a splitting headache. After all, you can’t control what your in-laws choose to pick apart, but you can control how you respond. Do so in a way that leaves you in one piece so you can enjoy the rest of the holidays without incident. Have a happy Thanksgiving!