1.Your stress hormones elevate.
You probably know that your body produces more cortisol when you’re stressed, so it won’t surprise you to know that cortisol levels are lower when you’re able to socialize. Studies show that those who complain (or, more gently put, share their issues) with a friend about their problems feel physical relief after commiserating. When you aren’t bottling it up and are instead able to talk about your petty problems with a co-worker or a friend, you’re less physically stressed. An excess of cortisol is something your system might not handle well, so talk out your issues with a friend before you bottle up the problems and get overwhelmed.
2.I find myself wanting to eat ALL the things
I’ve learned over the years that I’m an emotional eater. So, when I find myself suddenly craving all the snacks in the house, it’s a good reminder to check in with myself and see what’s going on internally.
Generally, if I find myself reaching for the chips or chocolate, it’s because I’m seeking an escape through my taste buds.
Sometimes I’ll acknowledge that I’m stressed and run myself a hot bath, taking a book and my snacks with me. Other times I’ll ask myself what I actually need; it’s not the snacks but rather a huge glass of water and lemon along with some quiet time sitting on the back porch.
3.Your lovey-dovey brain falls victim to co-dependent cuffing season.
Cuffing season is what happens when temperatures drop in the fall and winter months and the number of engagements, relationships, and casual hookups in your social circles rise tenfold. This phenomenon is mostly social—as Fusion’s consultations with experts note, the cultural pressure to be in a relationship around the holidays is more to blame than biology—but the impulse to rush into a relationship does have a biochemical root in loneliness. When you’re lonely, you miss out on the dopamine that’s produced when you’re physically close to another person. That lack of “warmth” will leave you cold and craving, and so you might rush into a codependent, less-than-stable connection, in the absence of something more timely and sturdy.
4.I start snapping at my loved ones
I pride myself on generally being pretty even-tempered. So when little noises my child makes get under my skin, or when I get frustrated by my partner asking me a question, I know something is up.
When I find myself getting grumpy and snappy with my loved ones, I’ll put myself in what my family and I call a “self-imposed timeout.” This is reserved for when one of us realizes they’ve reached their limit and really need to take a few minutes away.
For me, I’ll often go into the bedroom and take some deep breaths and practice grounding techniques, such as rubbing a smooth stone or smelling some essential oils. I may play a game on my phone for a few minutes or just pet the cat.
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