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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Feeling Stressed?

Winter holidays — do they fill you with joy or with worries about gift-giving and family gatherings? If you’re feeling stressed out over supposedly fun things, it might be time to reassess. Take a few moments to learn how stress affects your health and what you can do about it.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress can give you a rush of energy when it’s needed most — for instance, competing in sports, working on an important project, or getting the house ready for out-of-town guests. The hormones and other chemicals released when under stress prepare you for action. You breathe faster, your heartbeat quickens, blood sugar rises to give you energy, and your brain uses more oxygen as it shifts into high alert.


If stress lasts a long time — a condition known as “chronic stress” — those high-alert changes become harmful rather than helpful. Stress clearly promotes higher levels of inflammation, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, frailty, and functional decline. Chronic stress affects the body’s immune system, which then weakens your response to vaccines and impairs wound healing. Research has linked chronic stress to digestive disorders, urinary problems, headaches, sleep difficulties, depression, and anxiety.


One of the top causes of stress in the United States is money issues, which are exacerbated during the holidays. Stress can also arise from major life changes, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, illness, or a job change. Traumatic stress is brought on by an extreme event, such as a major accident, exposure to violence, or a natural disaster such as a tornado.


It’s not clear why some people can sidestep or recover more quickly from stress than others. These resilient people seem to “bounce back” more easily after stressful situations. Recent studies of animals suggest that resiliency may depend at least in part on our genes, but learning healthy ways to cope with stress can also boost your resilience.


There are many different ways to cope with stress. We know from a lot of different studies that having close personal relationships — people with whom you can talk, with whom you can share your feelings — can be helpful. So, spending time with family and friends in order to maintain those relationships is perhaps one of the most crucial things you can do as a stress reducer.


Unfortunately, when we’re stressed, we tend to do the worst things that are not at all helpful to our health.


For instance, stressed-out people may tend to isolate themselves and not seek social support. Exercise is a great stress reducer. When people are stressed, exercise becomes less common and less appealing. Instead of maintaining a healthy diet — also important to reducing stress — some people who are stressed tend to eat more donuts than vegetables. Getting enough sleep is also key to resilience and stress relief, although stress itself can interfere with sleep.


While the holiday season is often stressful for many people, as long as the stress is short-term and doesn’t keep happening over and over, there will likely be minimal negative effects to your health. Since I’m a podiatrist, I tend to see everything in relation to the effect on feet! Here are some specific ways that the holidays impact your feet and what you can do about it.


• Even if you do your shopping from the comfort of your home and no longer walk miles, traipsing from store to store, there is still added activity that causes you to be on your feet for long periods of time. Holiday parties, extra baking and cooking, and preparing for houseguests can all put added stress on your feet that may lead to pain. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and ask for help instead of doing everything yourself.


• Holiday travel can often involve long periods of sitting, which can cause circulation problems in your feet, especially if you have diabetes. Wear compression stockings and be sure to take frequent breaks to move around.


• It’s easy to eat too much sugar, salt, and carbs, which may cause feet to become swollen and painful.


• Always wear appropriate footwear when going outside in cold, icy conditions. While a pair of snow boots may not compliment a fancy party dress, a nasty fall or broken bone will most certainly contribute to holiday stress!


• Take care of yourself. A foot soak and massage are fantastic stress relievers!

If you feel overwhelmed by stress — whether during the holidays or any time of year — talk with a healthcare provider or mental health professional. Medications or other therapies can help you cope. Reducing stress may help you to slow down and enjoy your time with the people and activities you really care about.

To make an appointment, or get more information on any foot or ankle problem, contact Dr. Rizvi at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates, 309-661-9975, or visit their website at HeartlandFootAndAnkle.com. Their office is located at 10 Heartland Dr., Suite B in Bloomington.


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