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Coping with Anxiety during the Christmas Season

posted Dec 4, 2015, 7:15 AM by Walk Strong Calgary   [ updated Dec 4, 2015, 7:20 AM ]
December can be a very trying month for some people. Loss of loved ones, the stress and anxiety over preparations for Christmas and the influx of company, and in today's economic climate, fear of job loss. Did you know that there are over 100 symptoms and signs for anxiety? Some of the not so commonly known ones include: pulsing in the ear, feeling like your skin is burning, shooting pains in the face, dizziness, and electric shock feeling.

Anxiety itself occurs when we think or behave in an apprehensive manner - it's a state of uneasiness caused by worry. According to my mom's doctor, anxiety is worse later in the day, whereas depression is worse in the mornings. I've experienced both to some extent, and I'd have to agree - my Mom definitely agrees - her depression is way worse first thing in the a.m.

Prolonged anxiety will have a negative impact on health status. Think of it as a progressive poison to your system. Maybe it starts with headaches and neck tension. Then shortness of breath now and then. Stomach upset and nausea. Weakness in the legs. Heart palpitations... the list goes on. Here's some good news: There's an antidote!

Exercise can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, in part due to the release of chemicals called endorphins. These 'feel good' hormones give you a boost and help you cope. After a good workout, do you notice that you feel as though you could take on the world? Do your problems seem not quite as big? Exercise results in increased levels of potent brain chemicals including dopamine, seratonin and norepinephrine, all of which may help buffer some of the effects of stress in the body. In fact, the mood-boosting properties of exercise are immediate and long-lasting. Sounds like a helpful prescription with excellent side effects.

Another piece to the exercise puzzle is mental - it's a great way to take your mind off the issues that are causing you to worry. If you have access to a group fitness class in your area, I highly recommend joining a couple of times a week. Having a live instructor will help distract you from your problems, and the interaction with others can help build you up and motivate you... even strengthen you internally. The relationships and camaraderie are another coping mechanism that can really help, and it's a great way to get out of your normal environment for a mental breather. If your company has a fitness facility, take advantage of the classes they offer over lunch hour - you'll be amazed at how much better you feel all afternoon.

There may be times wherein medical intervention is necessary, and it's important to talk to your doctor if symptoms persist for any length of time. He or she may be able to refer you to a good counselor or may have other helpful suggestions. I would wager that one of those suggestions would be to add an exercise routine to your week!

Walk strong out there and have a very Merry Christmas!
Nancy Ehle
Certified WALK Leader, Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach
Owner, Witness 4 Fitness