5 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

Joy, excitement, anticipation…and stress.  These are four very common emotions that run high during the  holiday season. And in all honesty, we could do without the fourth one–stress.

After all, having a panic attack in the middle of singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is not fun for anyone.

If we desire joy, peace, and happiness, why is it that we let ourselves succumb to the madness of the season?

We believe there are two major reasons.

  1. We focus so much on others and forget to take care of our own needs.
  2. We get caught up in the whirlwind of holiday activities and forget to take a moment to breathe.

If you’re looking to take the stress out of the holiday season this year, we recommend you take to heart the following tips….

Tip #1 — Make Time for  Self-Care

It’s the season of giving. And trust us, there’s nothing more wonderful than giving your time, attention, and resources to others.

That being said, it’s not okay to forget about yourself.

Self-care is necessary if you want to keep stress levels low and be able to remain calm when the cat knocks all the ornaments off the tree or when your in-laws have overstayed their welcome.

Make time every day to do something for you–whether it be making a meal you love, sitting down with a good book, or watching your favorite television show.

We promise, there’s nothing wrong with asking your partner to bake the cookies for your kid’s class party or saying no to an event so you have time to stay home and relax.

Tip #2 — Say No to Things You Don’t Want to Do/Don’t Have Time For

Between organizing parties, attending events, hosting fundraisers, and other activities, there’s a lot on your schedule during the holidays.

It’s easy to overbook yourself…especially if you’re a people pleaser who doesn’t want to disappoint. But, the reality is, you just can’t do it all without getting stressed out.

This year, say no to the things that you don’t want to do or don’t have time for.

Your office holiday party will still be a hit even if the cupcakes you bring are store-bought instead of homemade, and your town’s holiday festival will still go on without your presence.

Slim down your schedule this year, and you’ll find the season much more enjoyable. We promise.

Tip #3 — Get Organized

One of the best ways to manage holiday stress is to get organized. And even at this point in the month, there’s plenty you can do to get ahead before overwhelm and stress get too out of hand.

Here are a few ideas…

  • Sweet lovers–Schedule a grocery trip to get all of your baking supplies at once. Store it in your pantry so it’s ready whenever you get the itch to bake.
  • Party attendees–Make sure you place all your events on a calendar so you can clearly see how your time is scheduled.
  • Gift givers–Make a list of all the gifts you’ll be purchasing this year. Then schedule a shopping day to get all your shopping done.

We recently wrote a post on ways to get organized for the holiday season. Check out some additional ideas and read the blog here.

Tip #4 — Keep Things Simple

There’s no need to overcomplicate things during the holidays. Yet, it’s something too many of us seem to do (especially after reading Southern Living or a lifestyle blog that makes you want to wow friends and family and attempt your own centerpiece made out of fruit).

Fret not, overachiever. Here are a few ways to keep it simple and lower your stress levels:

  • If you love baking, but don’t have time to make everything from scratch, buy premade cookie dough.
  • If you want to give your loved ones gifts this year, but are stressing out over what to buy them, give them money or gift cards.
  • If you’re hosting a holiday party, but are worried about making dinner and prepping for all those people, have the event catered.

You get the idea…keep it simple!

Tip #5 — Practice Meditation or Deep Breathing Exercises

Meditation and deep breathing exercises are scientifically proven to clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and reduce your stress levels.

If you’re feeling stressed, try to practice some form of meditation each day.

Not sure where to start?

We recommend taking a yoga class or a meditation/wellness class in your community.

Or, if you’re looking for a free option, check out YouTube. Search for “yoga instruction” or “deep breathing exercises,” and pages of free videos will pop up for you to use.

What do you do to stay stress-free during this busy season? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Tips for Taking the Stress out of Summer Vacations

Summerkids are off school, adults have vacation time, the weather is beautiful, and it’s the perfect time to take a much-deserved vacation. Yet, unfortunately, many people’s fantasy of a relaxing vacation (sitting on a white sand beach with a drink in hand) doesn’t always work out as planned.

That’s right.

Screaming kids, forgetting to pack your swimsuit, or not being able to find an affordable plane ticket are all things that can easily ruin a vacation. Yikes!

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we know how important it is for you (and your family) to rest, relax, and recharge. Which is why we’ve put together 5 tips that we hope will help you take the stress out of your vacation this year.

Check them out now…

Create a Packing List

Every travel destination comes with different packing needs. This is why it’s so important to take time to create a packing list to ensure you pack the appropriate attire.

Trust us, you wouldn’t want to make it all the way to Alaska and realize that you forgot your winter coat—Yes! Even in the summer months!

And just as every travel destination has different packing needs, so does every member of your family if you’re traveling with your significant other and/or children.

Heaven forbid you forget to bring your 3-year-old’s teddy bear for nighttime, and he doesn’t sleep the entire vacation. That’s stressful and no fun for anyone!

Ensure you don’t forget the essentials, and create a packing list. Review the list with whomever you are traveling with, and then check off each item on the list as you put it into your suitcase.

Invite an Extra Set of Hands to Help You on Your Trip

Inviting a friend or family member to go on your vacation to help if you have small children is a wonderful idea for many reasons.

Reason 1: If you have multiple small children, you already know how challenging traveling can be. When you have a second set of hands, you’ll have someone to sit in the backseat with child #1 when he needs help starting a movie on his iPad so you can drive in peace.

Reason 2: Safety. Parking lots, large crowds, pools/beaches, etc., are all dangerous for children. And if you have more than one child, it can be hard to keep an eye on everything to ensure everyone is safe and sound. Having a second set of eyes is a good way to keep everyone safe and happy so you can enjoy your vacation.

Reason 3: It’s nice to have the company of another adult. If you’re a single parent or are just traveling alone with your children, you know how mind-numbing constant conversations about your child’s favorite cartoon show can be. Bringing someone along with you makes it easier to have enjoyable adult conversations, whether you’re driving in the car, on a plane, or sitting at the beach.

Plan Ahead

Some people say spontaneity is the spice of life. Yet, those who went to NYC to see Hamilton without purchasing tickets in advance and missed the show would probably disagree.

If you know for sure that you want to do a specific activity, see a certain show, or go out to a special dinner, be sure to book everything in advance.

This not only takes the stress out of having to book everything last minute while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation, but it also helps ensure that you get to do the things you want to do while on vacation.

Booking ahead is also a great idea for hotels and airlines. When you plan in advance, you can watch rates and will most likely get a better deal on the cost of lodging or transportation instead of waiting to the last minute.

Provide Adequate Sleep/Rest Time

On vacation, people tend to get thrown off their normal schedules. And while adults can get moody if they don’t get enough sleep, lack of rest can be extremely detrimental for kids. We all know how stressful crying, screaming kids can be!

The good news is that there’s a simple solution to this problem. All you’ve got to do is schedule rest breaks into your day to avoid crankiness or meltdowns.

A simple hour nap or quiet break in the middle of the day can do wonders for children. You may also find, that as an adult, you also this break to relax amidst the hustle and bustle of your vacation as well.

Go into Your Vacation with the Right Mindset

It’s so easy to fantasize about the perfect vacation. After all, you’ve work so hard all year, and you clearly deserve the best vacation ever.

While it’s ok to expect the best out of your next vacation, it’s also important to have the right mindset. Not every vacation will be perfect. It may rain on your beach day. Tickets might be sold out to the dinner show you want to see. You may get a tummy ache from eating too much ice cream and have to cancel your fancy dinner reservations.

Stuff happens…and some people let the minor hiccups in a vacation ruin their entire trip. Don’t let this happen to you.

Go into your vacation with the mindset that you’re going to make the best of whatever happens on your trip. If it rains on your beach day, maybe it’s a good day to learn something new at a museum. And if you get a stomach ache from eating too much ice cream, that stinks—but at least you got to eat dessert for lunch that day! Score!

The key is flexibility. If one plan doesn’t work, have a plan B and try something different. Who knows, you might end up trying a new activity or seeing a new sight that becomes the highlight of your trip!

Go into your vacation with a mindset that you’re going to enjoy yourself no matter what happens. Travel delays, bad weather, cranky kids, etc., can wreak havoc on your trip, unless you are willing to roll with the punches and resort to a plan B if necessary. Flexibility is key.

Do you have any tips for taking the stress out of summer vacations? Share them with us in the comments below!


6 Ways to Naturally Destress and Have More Fun


There’s no denying it. Life can be very stressful at times.

Between work and school, and relationships and illnesses, life can throw a lot of unexpected things our way.

And when life throws you stressful situations, it’s important to find ways to naturally destress and have more fun.

While it might take a little discipline (hey, we know how hard it can be to put yourself first!), it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to enjoy activities that will help lower your stress levels.

It can be as simple as adding more exercise into your daily routine or carving out time to spend with your dearest friends.

Keep reading to discover some of our favorite activities that help us to destress.

Take a Walk 

If you’re stressed out and enjoy exercise, there is no better way to destress than with a long walk.

The reason: When you walk, your body naturally releases endorphins that help you relax and feel good.

On top of natural endorphins being released, walking is good for your body and helps keep you healthy.

And when your body feels good, you tend to emotionally and mentally feel better as well.

Get Together with Friends

During a stressful time, it can be a great comfort to have a friend nearby. A good friend is typically also a good listener, which is important when you feel you need to get things off your chest.

A friend might also be able to give valuable insight into your situation and provide good advice.

Sometimes a friend can also be there to help you take your mind off stressful things.

Nothing beats a good night out with your best girlfriends to lighten your mood.

Have a Night Out

There’s never anything wrong with treating yourself to a night out.

Especially when times are challenging. Go to a comedy club for a few laughs, out to dinner with a group of friends, or see the movie you’ve wanted to see.

Remember that a night out doesn’t have to be super extravagant or expensive.

Perhaps your fun night out might consist of a trip to the park to enjoy the scenery or a day of window shopping. It’s up to you! Choose whatever activity makes you feel calm and relaxed.

Pamper Yourself

Nothing beats a relaxing day at the spa. And sometimes all it takes to relieve some built-up stress is a massage and a fresh manicure. For some extra fun, bring a friend!

It’s always a good time to catch up on the latest gossip while getting your nails painted.

In the Charleston area? Check out this article on the best spas in Charleston to unwind and pamper yourself.

Make a Craft

When stress builds up inside the body, it tends to create a lot of negative energy. Use that energy and put it into doing something creative, like making a craft.

This craft doesn’t have to be anything too crazy. If you’re in to knitting, make a scarf. Love to paint?

Maybe it’s time to touch up some of your furniture or create a new piece of art for your wall. Better yet, have fun by putting your energy into learning a new crafting skill.

Not only will it help you take your mind off the situation, you’ll come out of the experience with a new skill set.

Play a Game

In the hustle and bustle of life, we often forget to add play into our daily routines.

And without any play in your day, you’re missing out on fun. And without any fun, your life is bound to get extra stressful.

Bringing out a board game to play with your friends or family is a great way to relieve stress.

Games give you an opportunity to focus your mind on something other than what’s stressing you out, and the company of others is always fun and relaxing.

Participate in a Charity Race

The best friends forever Pink Ribbon Run is a fun time for everyone who participates.

It’s one of our personal favorite events and are excited to be a sponsor this year on September 17.

This is a family friendly event and all age groups can participate. And it doesn’t matter if you’re not a runner. Walk off stress and join us in celebration by walking the race with your friends and family.

Proceeds from race registration and fundraising will benefit local breast cancer organizations.

Come join us for this worthy cause!

What is your favorite destressing activity? Comment below!

Techniques to Remain Calm in Stressful Scenarios


Stressful scenarios come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it be an argument with a friend or coworker, a health crisis, a public speaking engagement, or money issues, the list can go on and on…

One fact of life is that stressors are always present.

If we can find tried and true techniques that help us handle these stressful situations in a more calming, graceful manner, our overall quality of life could increase dramatically.

That’s not to say we won’t occasionally have a screaming meltdown in the car every now and then, but maybe we can make an effort for those tantrums to happen less frequently.

Below are 6 techniques to help you calm yourself in stressful scenarios:

Identify the stressor

There are many times when we’re upset and don’t truly identify what the stressor is that’s causing this reaction. Maybe you snap at your significant other, when really you are mad at your mom for an argument you had earlier. The first step to reacting calmly to stress is to identify what the real issue is.

Sleep on it

This old adage proves true time and time again. Don’t make any rash decisions or comments until after a good night’s sleep. This gives you the opportunity to lower your blood pressure and think about the entire situation.

Make a plan of action

A lot of stress is built up from simply not knowing how you’re going to overcome a stressful scenario. Sitting down and coming up with a written down plan of how to tackle the issue at hand will help relieve a great deal of tension.

Find your “go to” ways to relax

Everyone has his or her own ways to relax. For some it’s cleaning, for others it’s taking a bubble bath, and some like to go for a run. If you haven’t found your favorite relaxation technique, try a few things out and monitor how you feel afterwards.

Write down everything you’re grateful for

Sometimes we get caught up in the minute details (okay, all the time). If we could just take a step back and see all the amazing things in our lives, a lot of that stress would seem so trivial. Take a few minutes when you’re feeling worked up to write down each and every thing you’re grateful for in your life. Better yet—save that list on your phone to look at the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Talk to someone you trust

Sometimes just being able to talk about what’s stressing you out with an unbiased party can help you relieve some tension. Having someone you trust that is a good listener who you can talk your problems out with is sometimes the biggest stress reliever of all.

Try these techniques out and let us know if they helped you relieve stress!

Top 3 Ways to Bring More Balance into Your Busy Life

balancing scaleMaintaining work-life balance isn’t easy. And with new technology and work expectations—well, it’s even more of a challenge.

In the world of being plugged-in 24/7, it is easy to forget the importance of separating our work life and our personal life—let alone know how to juggle the two worlds.

Sound familiar? Not to worry—we’ve got your back. We’ve compiled a list of ways to help you bring more balance into your busy life (and some inspirational quotes to get you through the toughest days):


“Do less. Be more.”—Elizabeth Grace Saunders 

If you’re like us, you often make more work for yourself than you have to. You know how it goes: mindlessly wasting time browsing social media, chatting away on personal phone calls, and surfing the web in search of the next handbag (or cute cat video—come on, you know you do it!).

If you pay more attention to where you are spending your time, you might be able to spend more of it doing the things you enjoy.

Our tip: For one day, write down everything you do. See where you are wasting time.

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.”—Betsy Jacobson

Work isn’t going to set boundaries for you. You have to set them for yourself.

Scheduling your own downtime in your calendar will help keep the two worlds of work and life separate. Spending time with your friends, family, or significant other is imperative to your overall happiness. Even so, it’s hard to keep in mind when the workload gets heavy.

Our tip: Create a calendar with both your work and fun commitments. This way, you are able to see how to balance both more carefully, and it will keep you mindful of the importance of downtime.

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”—Jim Rohn

Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you are in charge of your own life. You make your own priorities. Sometimes, even when you’re “off the clock,” you still have a million things to do at home.

A great way to balance your week is to make a list of priorities, especially at home. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with an endless amount of chores, make a list at the beginning of the week of what needs to get done and when. Stick to the list, and enjoy taking some time to relax. Remember, without downtime, it’s easy to burn out. High stress, both at work and home, can negatively affect your health.

Our tip: On Sundays, make a list of priorities for the week of what you’d like to accomplish, and decide on the days you plan to complete each task. This way, you spread out the tasks and leave some time each day for doing something you enjoy.

Have suggestions on work-life balance? Share them on our Facebook Page

Holiday Stress Getting to You? Here’s Our De-stressing Tips

8179594890_3fb4115dc8_mBetween all of the holiday shopping, decorating, parties, getting your house ready for guests, and wrapping galore, it’s easy to lose your mind during the holiday season.

As fun and exciting as this time of year can be, let’s face it…sometimes you just want to scream: “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

Instead of telling you to just breathe—which might make you more stressed—we’re sharing our tips of how to keep the holiday stress from getting to you. Try these ideas to help you re-center, and remember that this season is a magical time of year to reconnect with family and friends.

Give Yoga a Try

Yoga improves your mind, benefits your body, and balances your spirit. Because yoga involves a series of poses while in a flow-like state, you strengthen your mind as you work out your body (talk about a win-win!).

Yoga benefits your mind, by teaching you how to breathe deeply and slowly. Unlike short and nervous breathing, long and controlled breaths train your brain to focus on consistent thinking. If you feel as if you’re constantly distracted, a yoga session will bring attention back to your inner thoughts. Because yoga puts you in a state of calm and control, you become more familiar with your body’s way of coping with stress. And let’s be honest, we could all use some self-centering during the holidays.

Enjoy a Spa Day

Muscles tightening up to the point where you feel “locked up” in certain positions? We know how it feels. Stress can lead to physical pain, especially in the neck and shoulders. Before the pain becomes unbearable, there’s something you can do to “reset” your body and mind: visit a spa! What’s the harm in getting treated like a King or Queen for a while? Gift yourself this season with a relaxing massage or facial!

Snuggle Up with a Mug of Hot Cocoa

On a tight budget after buying all of those holiday gifts? Sometimes curling up with a blanket and mug of hot cocoa, while watching your favorite holiday movie, can be just as good for the soul as therapy! Some of our favorites: Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Polar Express. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

What’s Your Favorite Part of the Holidays? Share Below:

How to Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety ranges from a constant niggling worry to a full-on panic attack. When anxiety hits, it’s hard to imagine putting it aside and moving on, but there are ways you can overcome those jitters and nervousness.

Discover where the anxiety comes from.

What is causing you to feel nervous or stressed? Is it work, family, home life? When you discover the root of your anxiety, you’re halfway to curing it. You may need to take some time and have an honest inner talk with yourself to find out what has changed in your life that is causing stress.

Once you have determined the source of your worry, then you need to decide if the issue is yours to fix. It may be within your ability to change the root cause, or it may be completely out of your control.

If you have control over the stressor, determine a plan to reduce or eliminate it.

If your work is causing anxiety, formulate some ideas to lower your stress level. It may be delegating some work, asking a coworker for help, or learning a new process to streamline your workload.

If something at home is the issue, convene a family meeting (or a meeting with your spouse only) to discuss the problem. In either case, know that time is typically the best healer of anxiety. For now, try some deep breathing, meditation, exercise, or visualization of the best outcome.

If you cannot control the cause of your anxiety, let it go, or choose a better way to deal with the stress.

There are times we all have to deal with uncertainty, and we have to simply let things take their course. We do not control some parts of life, and we need to recognize those times and let our stress go. Use the stress relief techniques above to free yourself from the fear and worries.

Occasionally, stress is your brain and body’s way of alerting you that something must change. When you listen to and heed your body’s warning, you’ll be surprised at how wise you were without knowing it. If you feel that something is amiss, it likely is. Don’t ignore your brain or your body when it’s trying to send a message.

However, for some of us, worry becomes a habit. Always stay focused when you’re analyzing your worries, and determine if your fears are founded or not. When you begin fretting about things for no good reason, it’s time to step back and look at the bigger picture. Something more than a minor stressor is at work. Talk to a therapist or counselor if you feel you’re worrying needlessly.


7 Ways to Beat Stress

stress reliefStress adversely affects every aspect of your life, from your health to your relationships. Many people don’t realize how stressful their lives are, and they don’t know how to deal with or reduce their stress. Let’s explore seven ways to improve your life by beating stress.

Determine your stressors.

We all have different areas of our lives that cause stress. While you may not be able to change stressful situations, by identifying your stressors, you can develop a plan to deal with them as effectively as possible. For example, if work causes stress, you can go to the gym after work to release tension with a workout, or leave the building for lunch to get away from your desk for a few minutes.

You might be able to change your response to stressors by altering the situation to make it easier to bear. For example, if visiting the doctor during the day is stressful because you need to go to work afterward, perhaps you can meet the doctor in the evening or on a weekend day. If you become agitated during rush hour traffic, try a new route or travel at a different time.

Avoid people, places, and things that upset you.

We all have people who make us uncomfortable or tasks we dislike doing. When those aggravations become stressful, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Rethink whether it’s necessary to have dinner with the neighbor who criticizes your cooking. Perhaps it makes sense to find an accountant to do your taxes or a detailer to wash your car. Delegating tasks and avoiding stressful people not only reduce your stress, but they also give you a marvelous feeling of freedom.

Know your limits.

Be realistic about your time and what you can do, and say no when you need to. When you’re at your limit, additional items on your to-do list become stressors. Stand your ground and be assertive when you need or want to say no.

Give yourself a treat.

Integrative therapies such as massage, reflexology, and aromatherapy help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relax you. They’re also fun and rejuvenating. Find a certified practitioner or visit a spa, keep an open mind, and give it a try.

Turn off the noise.

Unplug and spend at least 30 minutes alone and quiet every day. We’re all bombarded by technology and advertising, and it’s overwhelming. When you get away from the constant noise, you’ll feel your stress melt away. Spend that time doing what you enjoy, whether it’s a walk or a hot bubble bath. Unwind and enjoy.

Tune out negativity.

Do you really need to watch the 10 pm newscast each night or read the paper every day?  The news is mostly negative, which raises your stress levels. Your mind doesn’t need any more input on weather disasters or the latest political upheavals around the world. Don’t take on the world’s problems as your own. Rather than watch the news, find a comedy or cartoon to watch. Better yet, turn off the TV and read a book.

Experiment to find your best release.

Some women relieve stress by laughing or crying, and others find exercise or art to be their release valve. You may need to try a few different outlets to relieve stress, such as watching classic TV comedies, renting a movie that makes you cry, painting, or going to the gym. You may find one perfect stress reliever, or you may decide a combination of activities helps.

As you work through your stress, stay positive. Negativity is an unhealthy stressor and can creep into areas of your life that aren’t stressful. An upbeat attitude will do wonders to combat stress and help you feel healthy and at your best.

What do you do to combat stress?