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Interoception for Holiday Stress

Did you know that December is National Stress-Free Family Holiday Month? You might be thinking, “How is that even possible?”. From working overtime to afford presents to the endless family drama, one would expect to feel stressed. All this might be true, but the holidays are also a time to enjoy. How can one do that if they are stressed out beyond belief? While December is National Stress-Free Family holiday month, it is not saying that the holidays are stress free; it’s more about promoting stress reduction!

With all the holiday preparations and festivities, people always want to give but find it difficult to take a moment for themselves. People get caught up in the magic of the holidays to the point where they tend to not realize or ignore their internal body sense, which is telling them that they are stressed and overwhelmed. This internal body sense is known as Interoception. The interoceptive sense helps us be aware of our body’s needs to know how to appropriately address them and to regulate our emotions and behaviors.

This holiday season, do not ignore your interoceptive sense and be aware of your body’s reaction to stress. While everyone reacts differently, here are some common signs to look out for: Headache, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, stomach upset, irritability, and sleep problems. Stress can also lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and even depression. By understating these signs, you can better recognize that you are stressed and will find it easier to address this feeling and to regulate your emotions. Now, you may be asking, “How do I do that?”. It is as simple as a 1-minute body scan. A one-minute body scan can help you tap into your interoceptive sense, becoming more aware of your body’s sensations, how to address them and experiencing some relaxation along the way. Here are several 1-minute body scan videos to help start off your interoceptive journey:

If you have a headspace account, here is a great video to utilize:

December can be a stressful month but remember to be kind to yourself and pay attention to your interoceptive sense!

By: Gwendolen Anderson

Mental Health Counseling Intern

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