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3 Unexpected Ways Holiday Stress Affects Your Body

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Feeling more tired than normal? Gaining weight with no explanation? Stress may be to blame.

That festive time of the year is upon us once more. It's time to reconnect with friends and family, share some laughs, feast on tasty holiday fare, watch the look of excitement in the eyes of children opening gifts, and, yes . . . unfortunately experience the burdens of stress.

Holiday stress — and stress in general — can affect us in some odd and sometimes unexpected ways. Here are three examples of how holiday stress may be manifesting in your life right now and how to fight back against it.

Lethargy

Isn't it ironic that the holidays inject some people, particularly kids, with virtually unrestricted energy and joy while others seemingly only experience a feeling of lethargy? While there is an association between chronic stress and lethargy, a lot of the connection seems to be because of lack of sleep, due to stress. Of course, simple carbs (typically found in desserts many of us enjoy during the holiday season) don’t help either.

Making a concentrated effort to abide somewhat close to your normal sleeping schedule, doing your best to walk the line between enjoying holiday foods and properly nourishing your body, and sticking to an exercise routine, are all ways to combat fatigue associated with holiday stress.

Teeth Grinding

One of the most common ways of dealing with annoying relatives always asking uncomfortable questions is to simply stand there, hold your tongue, grit your teeth, and let them take their best verbal shot. Perhaps not surprisingly then, according to The Bruxium Organization in the UK, approximately 70 percent of teeth grinding can be attributed to anxiety or stress.

Tel Aviv University's Dr. Ephraim Winocur suggests that grinding your teeth, "is not a dental problem, but one with clear dental consequences." According to Dr. Winocur’s research, the consequences may include tooth fractures and significant wear and tear, leading to greater tooth sensitivity.

If you know your tooth sensitivity is related to grinding, talk to your dentist, as they may recommend a nighttime mouth guard to ease the ache.

One in four adults have a sensitivity to hot and cold liquids. For this type of sensitivity, use Sensodyne Rapid Relief toothpaste, which can provide relief from pain in as little as three days (when used twice daily) as well as help prevent staining and cavities.

Weight Gain

Stress eating is a thing that can happen to the best of us, and when you combine it with the fact that an average holiday meal can add up to as much as 3,000 calories, it’s no wonder that some of us gain some extra pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Push back against stress-related weight gain in two ways: first, figure out some ways to ease your stress (Maybe try to work in some meditation? Ask your family for support? Seek professional help?), and second, map out some holiday eating strategies. Helpful strategies may include taking only small portions of desserts, socializing away from appetizers, eating a healthy breakfast and snacks leading up to the big meal, and waiting 15 minutes before getting up for seconds so your food has time to digest.

Whatever your stressors are this season, be proactive about putting an end to them before they cause any damage.

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