holiday stress

The Five Love Languages - How do you express love

As the holidays draw nearer there has been a lot of talk with my friends and family about gift giving. I've found that we all have different opinions about gift giving, whether it be the amount of gifts, the type of gift or the meaning behind it. These discussions have got me thinking about the variety of ways people show love and receive love. There are actually five love languages and gift giving is one of them. Have you heard of the five languages of love? By understanding these different love languages, you will better understand how your family, friends or partner receives love and how they give it and are able to better explain how you give and receive affection as well, ultimately improving those relationships. This holiday season this will translate to less stress around family and more love. And don't we all want more love :) 

The Five Love Languages:

Words of Affirmation - Words like "I love you," "You look beautiful," "You did a great job," mean a lot to people whose love language is words. Perhaps send a little note in their lunchbox or remember to compliment them on a job well done, perhaps with the christmas cookies or decorations. 

Physical Touch - Do you know someone that wraps themselves around you as soon as they see you? I know a few! Their language of love is definitely physical touch. Be sure to give them a big hug when you see them or are saying goodbye, or a hand on the back when passing by at a holiday party to let them know you are thinking about them. 

Receiving Gifts - Flowers anyone? What a great simple way to say I care for you for these people. Perhaps your partner is always bringing home a small token after a trip. This shows they are thinking of you in their own way. The gift giving time is a highlight over the holidays for them. They have probably put a lot of thought into what they got you! 

Quality Time - Does your grandfather or father love to be in the room with you but not have much to say? Does your partner want you to go to bed with them even though you aren't tired? They appreciate quality time, in any form. For these people, undistracted quality time is appreciated, whether it be a nice lunch to catch up, making dinner together or watching your favourite show together. Why not go for a nice long walk with family over the holidays with those you love to show you care. 

Acts of Service - Just helping with the dishes does really go a long way for some people who language of love is acts of service. Do you know someone who is always helping out in the kitchen, or making you cookies, or making sure your car is clean? Return the favour for them and they will know you care. 

What is your love language?

You can even take a quiz online to learn what your dominant love language is. Before taking the quiz, I assumed mine was acts of service but I was wrong. Instead my primary love language is quality time, followed by physical touch - which I now completely understand as the holidays for me are a lot about spending quality time with my family! 

What is yours? How can you incorporate that into this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below. 

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Karen

A Healthy Holiday How To

The holidays are creeping closer and closer and that can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year and something I get very excited for. Among other things, I love the cozy sweaters, the hot apple cider, the decorations and getting to spend time with my wonderful family. For me that excitement masked itself as stress when I was younger and you could find me sick on the couch many years in a row...Typical Karen!

December is not a typical month for most of us with a different routine, stressing about the perfect gift, travelling and/or overindulging in cookies or festive drinks. All these things create a similar reaction in our body. Cytokines are released, which stimulate cortisol, our stress hormone from our adrenal glands, and other immune cells to ward off inflammation and infection. Then when cortisol crashes (for me that was Christmas morning!), our immune system shuts down, giving way to potential colds and flus. Don't get caught in this trap by including some of the suggestions below into this holiday month to stabilize your stress response. 

  1. Hydrate: The low humidity and dry air inside makes us more prone to dehydration. We also tend to be running around and forgetting to drink. Keep those mucus membranes moist by drinking 8 ounces of water every 1-2 hours. I suggest keeping a water bottle in your car at all times. Try adding lemon juice and sea salt to nourish those adrenals.
  2. Massage: Studies have shown that a massage lowers your stress hormone while boosting white blood cells, helping to fight off any germs that come your way. There are great RMTs at my clinic in Dartmouth. Treat yourself this month :)
  3. Sleep: Adequate sleep also stabilizes cortisol, improves your immune system and decreases inflammation. Aim for around 7-8 hours a night. Tired when your kids go to bed? Maybe your body is telling you something. 
  4. Laugh: Laughter has been shown to boost your immune system for a least 24 hours. Have a funny uncle coming for christmas, perfect! Enjoy quality time with people you love. They are likely to make you smile. 
  5. Exercise: With the colder months and our busy schedules, I understand this is something that we tend to leave out. Less vigorous exercise like walking, helps to moderate stress. Walking can be very nourishing and gets you outside. Why not plan a big walk with the family christmas or boxing day? A good opportunity to wear those new gloves. 
  6. Indulge smart: Yes, Quality Street chocolate and egg nog only come out once a year, but that doesn't mean you have to go overboard. Simple carbohydrates, like sugar, flood your blood stream quickly suppressing white blood cells. So think smart, and leave that second cookie or piece of peppermint bark for your sibling. (Now I'm getting hungry...)
  7. Gut health: Your gut associated lymphatic tissue, or GALT, is a large part of your immune system that resides in your gut. Eating smart by taking time for meals, not overeating, prepping your digestion with lemon water or taking a probiotic are all great ideas to support your immune system. Hosting a potluck? Try making suggestions on what guests can bring to ensure a balanced and health meal. 

All in all, enjoy time with family and friends, be safe, and I'll see you in 2016!!

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

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