It’s December. Does the very mention of the holiday month bring you joy? Stress? A mixture of the two?
My patients often tell me that December is their worst month, with extra activities, lists, and entertaining high on the roster of stressors.
If this describes you, try paying attention this month to the structure of your days and nights, following these three guidelines closely:
• Eat a healthy diet.
• Promise yourself a minimum of 20 minutes brisk walking outside every day.
• Be certain you’re sleeping at least seven hours every night.
Understand that, among its other effects, stress will tank your immune system. Chronic stress actually changes the levels of good-guy blood cells called lymphocytes, especially those earmarked to fight viral infections. Stressed out, you might find yourself coming down with more colds and flu than your friends and co-workers. Or you may get more skin or vaginal infections.
Over a long enough period, by raising your blood pressure and speeding your heart rate, chronic stress increases your chances of developing permanent high blood pressure and also your risk of having a heart attack.