Post-Holiday Stress and Your Bladder

November 24,2021 |
Father and son at the dinner table.

The holidays are just around the corner, and they’ll be here before you know it. While the idea of gathering with your friends and family is exciting, many people experience abnormally high levels of stress during these months. Getting everything ready in time, shopping for gifts and food, and even the simple act of seeing family members can cause a spike in cortisol levels. While small levels of stress may help boost productivity in some, long-term stress during this time can cause problems with your health. To learn more about what to expect and how to combat negative effects, here’s some essential information on post-holiday stress and your bladder.

The Impact of Stress on Your Bladder

Whenever you become anxious or stressed, your body releases hormones to help your muscles prepare for the innate “fight-or-flight” response. These hormones include adrenaline and cortisol, which can help you react quickly both mentally and physically. As a physical response to stress hormones, your nervous system operates more intensely, making your body more sensitive to certain reflexes such as the need to urinate. Your muscles, including your bladder, simultaneously become more tense, which can make you feel like you have to urinate more frequently. While you might not notice the association between stress and bladder health, the two are interconnected. Unfortunately, the relationship works as a cycle. Stress and anxiety can lead to urinary conditions, which in turn creates more stress and anxiety about making it to the bathroom in a timely manner. Since stress can exponentially increase over the holidays, so can bladder conditions.

Managing a Stressful Holiday Season

The best way to mitigate post-holiday stress and improve the health of your bladder is to be prepared. Preventative measures can be taken to help improve bladder health and, in turn, limit problems later on. Some ways to help manage a stressful holiday season include the following.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

While you might think that alcohol can help you deal with all of the stress and anxiety that surrounds the holidays, it is not good for your bladder. Alcohol is considered a bladder irritant and a diuretic, which increases the body’s production of urine. As an irritant, alcohol can worsen symptoms of overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. You don’t have to completely omit alcohol during the holidays but try to limit yourself to one or two drinks a day and always drink water in between.

Know When to Say No

One of the biggest reasons people get stressed over the holidays is because they’re spread too thin. They take on too many events or dinners and end up overcommitting to things they can’t physically do. Know when to say no if your schedule is too full or even if you just don’t feel like it.

Switch to Herbal Tea or Half Caff

Caffeine can power you through a busy day, but it’s going to cause problems with your bladder. Caffeine is a bladder irritant and can actually contribute to increased anxiety levels. If you’re reliant on caffeine, try to at least limit the amount you drink or replace it with an herbal tea or half caff coffee. Half caff is a type of coffee that has a 50/50 mix of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, giving you the same taste without all of the energy. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help mitigate any headaches from reducing caffeine consumption.

Stick to Your Routine

Even if you’re swamped with a never-ending holiday to-do list, try to stick to your routine. Routines can provide a sense of calm during busy times of the year, especially when they include exercising and getting enough rest. Get done what you can without overworking yourself. If you need to, delegate tasks to others to make sure that the day goes smoothly.

Maintain a Bladder Diary

A bladder diary can help you better understand how your body reacts to certain foods and beverages. This helps you identify any triggers that may worsen bladder conditions and increase your risk for leaks or an accident. Keeping a bladder diary during the holidays is also a great way to avoid overeating and can help you stick to your healthy eating goals.

Try to Stay Calm

Consider trying calming exercises to help you manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way. Try some deep breathing exercises, get outside for fresh air, meditate for 10 minutes a day, or allow yourself to unwind at the end of the day with a relaxing bath. Find something that works for you and schedule time for it regularly.

Stress and Overactive Bladder

Stress is especially damaging to those living with overactive bladder. Since you’re already going to the bathroom more frequently, stress can make OAB seem unbearable. This is especially true if you’re at someone else’s home or if you’re traveling for the holidays. Even if you can’t use the bathroom, you may notice that you experience an ongoing urgency. This is likely due to nerves, so try to stay calm and plan ahead. There are plenty of ways to manage overactive bladder and help ease your symptoms during and after the holidays.

Interstitial Cystitis Management

Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, is another condition that’s worsened by holiday stress. Flare ups tend to coincide with high-stress events, which can make holidays uncomfortable. Since the symptoms are similar to those of a urinary tract infection, IC flare ups can severely disrupt your daily activities. There are ways to manage interstitial cystitis, so make sure that you’re prepared ahead of time and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

The Best Ways to Improve Bladder Health After the Holidays

While taking preventative action before and during the holidays will help you reduce the severity of bladder conditions, most people like to enjoy themselves and indulge a little. There’s nothing wrong with this. To help deal with post-holiday stress and your bladder, getting back to your healthy routines as quickly as possible is essential. Some ways to do this include the following.

Practice Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises like Kegels can help strengthen the muscles that support your bladder, thus improving symptoms of overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises are beneficial to both men and women and can help battle anxiety and depression in those suffering from disruptive urologic conditions.

Try Yoga

Yoga is a great way to manage your stress levels throughout the year and help you learn better coping mechanisms. Yoga has been shown to help improve the quality of life for those who experience urgency urinary incontinence. It’s a great full-body exercise that can be practiced in your home upon waking or going to bed, or in a studio with a licensed yoga teacher.

Seek Medical Treatment

Many people who suffer from urologic conditions that affect the bladder have already been diagnosed and are working with their doctor to form treatment plans. If you have symptoms of bladder problems but have not yet been diagnosed, see your doctor as soon as possible. Once your doctor can pinpoint what’s causing your symptoms, you’ll be more likely to experience relief. There are several different types of treatment options, most often starting with lifestyle changes and extending to surgery.

Consider Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a great option to help improve bladder control. Behavioral therapy can give you more resources to manage your overactive bladder without invasive techniques or surgeries. Behavioral therapy can also be combined with different types of medications or nerve treatment to give you the biggest relief from bothersome symptoms. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the different types of behavioral therapy available to you today.

Get Some Support

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed about your urologic condition, try seeking out support. There are great resources you can use to connect with others who are dealing with the same condition and learn how they cope with any emotional duress during treatments. Talk to your doctor to learn more about options for support groups in your local area, or head online to connect with people around the world.

For some extra help mitigating holiday stress, talk to your doctor about using urologic products in your daily bladder management. Byram Healthcare offers a range of urology supplies and educational material to keep you informed about the latest product innovations. We carry one of the largest urologic catheter selections from all top manufacturers. Get started today by browsing our product catalog and learn more about the importance of maintaining good urologic health.

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