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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Health 1st

by Susan Johnson, Ph.D.
MUSC Employee Wellness

It’s that time of year again when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season makes many of us experience stress. Eustress is a term used to describe a stressor that is considered to be a positive event, such as a wedding or the holidays, but that also triggers the stress response.

Common symptoms related to stress include headaches, digestive problems, trouble sleeping, and irritability, just to name a few. Here are five tips for managing stress this holiday season.

1. Exercise. Giving your body an outlet for the “fight or flight” stress response helps reduce physical symptoms and the natural brain chemicals released during physical activity may help reduce emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

2. Laugh. Not only can laughter improve mood, it can also reduce stress-related hormones like cortisol and improve immunity by enhancing the levels of endorphins, neurotransmitters, and antibody producing cells.

3. Eat. Bananas, nuts, avocados and salmon—these stress-busting foods help to strengthen your immune system, regulate stress hormones and lower blood pressure. Stay away from too much alcohol, sugar, and processed foods.

4. Sleep. Caffeine and alcohol consumption, over-scheduling and over-thinking, and the stress hormone cortisol can lead to sleep deprivation. Try relaxation techniques, regular bedtime rituals and even power naps to recharge your batteries and have more energy for holiday activities.

5. Delegate. Try not to take all of the holiday responsibilities on yourself. Ask family members to bring side dishes, ask children to help with wrapping and cleaning, hire help if needed, and above all, be OK if things don’t go exactly as planned. Let us learn from the words of Andy Rooney, “one of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly.”

By taking small steps to prevent and manage stress, this holiday season can bring joy and leave you feeling fulfilled rather than drained. Now relax and remember what is important this holiday season—friends, family, faith and good health.

Health 1st events
  • Chair massages: Free massages are offered to employees on Tuesday nights and midday Wednesdays. Look for broadcast messages for locations and times.
  • MUSC employee fitness series: A free Pilates class will be held from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m., Dec. 14 at the MUSC Wellness Center. Participants will also receive a free one-day pass to the Wellness Center. E-mail to register.
  • Mobile mammograms: The Hollings Cancer Center Mobile Van will be conducting mammograms  from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 14 in the Harborview Office Tower parking lot. Call 792-0878 to schedule an appointment.
  • Farmers market December schedule: Thursday, Dec. 9; Friday, Dec. 17; Wednesday, Dec. 22; and Wednesday, Dec. 29.
E-mail to become involved in employee wellness at MUSC. Events, classes or any other ideas are welcome.

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.