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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

December 20, 2018

 

Most wonderful time of the year....or most stressful time? It turns out that visiting family members over the holidays can be super stressful for large fractions of the population, and that this stress can result in excess drinking and drug overdoses, car accidents, violence, and lots of other nastiness that is definitely not in the holiday spirit. What does science think about this?

 

Well, science recognizes the stress of family, and notes that the fact that family-related stress comes together with lots of other things to keep track of during the holiday, your brain may already be in a weakened state even before you start talking to that nosy uncle of yours, or get trampled on by a millions nieces and nephews, or deal with any hostility from the whole family. What’s the good news? Family stress is generally short lived, and you can usually relax quickly after the holidays are complete.

 

Things that may help you deal with your stress: paying attention to your diet, reducing alcohol consumption, yoga, meditation

 

Things that definitely will not help you and may exacerbate stress: alcohol, drugs, yelling, risk taking while driving or engaging in other activities

 

Stay safe people, and have a happy holiday for those who are celebrating Christmas!

 

More information about stress and family and holidays can be found at the links below:

 

http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/holiday-stress-and-brain

 

https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2017/dec/20/festive-stress-why-the-christmas-season-can-be-anything-but-merry

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