The Caregiver Conquers Holiday Stress

The Caregiver Conquers Holiday Stress

By Ruth Mansmith MS, RN, CRRN, RAC-C

Author, national speaker, wellness coach

Welcome to the most wonderful season of the year. It can also be the most stressful season. Plan your stress management strategies now and be a Stress Buster.

This month, I am sharing the key points of a successful stress-management workshop I present around the country.  These key points will give you information to stop the effects of stress before it affects your health.  We all need to be reminded periodically to manage our stressors. Our health depends on it.

The holiday season is upon us and our stress level may increase along with the festivities.  Let’s take a look at the causes of stress, how stress affects your health and action steps you can take today.

Facts About Stress

  • Stress is a part of life
  • We cannot avoid stress
  • Stress is ANY CHANGE you must face
  • Not all stress is bad
  • Stress is essential to life

There are two types of stress: Bad Stress and Good Stress

Several examples of good stress are:

  • Getting a promotion
  • Having a good workout
  • Watching a beautiful sunset

Bad stressors are anything considered dangerous, unfair or painful. What might seem like bad stress to you, might seem uneventful to your neighbor. Attitude plays a key role.

Sources of Stress

Stressors spring from four areas:

  1. Environment
  2. Social
  3. Physiological
  4. Thoughts

Several examples of environmental stressors are the weather, pollens, noise, traffic and pollution.  With proper planning, these stressors can be managed. Grab a jacket, take a sinus pill, use ear plugs and drive on a less-busy highway.

Social stressors are a bit more difficult to manage. . Here are several examples of social stressors: deadlines, financial problems, job interviews, presentations, disagreements, demands for your time and the loss of a loved one.

Examples of physiological stressor are: menopause, illness, aging, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and inadequate sleep

Thoughts, the fourth source of stress, are a powerful agents. Your brain interprets changes in your life and determines when to stress you out.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is persistent stress. It develops when the stressors of life are unrelenting, such as a divorce or ongoing work problems.

However, little things can add up and amount to chronic stress. This happens when too many small disagreeable things pile up and you do not have time to recover before the next one occurs.

Remember, if your mind thinks it is stress, it is! No matter what anyone else thinks.

“Stress appraisal is personal.”

Stress Can Damage Your Body

Stress will pick a favorite body system and wreck havoc:

  • Skeletal-muscular
  • Cardiovascular
  • Gastro-intestinal
  • Reproduction
  • Respiratory-lungs
  • Insulin production
  • Etc.

For example, stress can cause muscular tension, resulting in neck pain. Stress can make you feel tired and fatigued. It can cause migraine headaches, ulcers, chronic diarrhea or constipation. Stress can suspend tissue repair, inhibit the immune system, make you more susceptible to colds and flu, and even exacerbate serious conditions such as cancer, AIDS, arthritis and depression.

Stress Buster

I call this exercise, the art of the sigh. It is quick, easy and effective. Anyone can do it, anywhere, anytime. Here’s how:

  1. Sit or stand up straight
  2. Sigh deeply while letting out a sound of deep relief
  3. Allow natural inhalation
  4. Do 8-12 times

Practice this breathing exercise within the first three minutes of a stress attack.

Ruth Mansmith, a former CEO for a national chain of health-care facilities and author of the international award winning Fit For Life Wellness Program offers wellness strategies for people of all ages. She has trained thousands of participants across the country on strategies to avoid disease and enjoy the fullness of life.  Currently, she is completing her latest book, the Wellness Handbook and offering private wellness consultation. Ruth can be reached at (561) 352-4456 or visit


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