03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Don't Get Stressed by the Fests

Several years ago we started noticing that the majority of patients in our OB-GYN practice were suffering from stress and stress related illnesses. This prompted us to launch an investigation into the latest, ground-breaking research on stress and how women can more effectively fight it.

The result is So Stressed: The Ultimate Stress Relief Plan for Women, our new book that identifies four different "Stress Types" and their very different personality traits.

Stress levels peak during the holiday season. Below, we help you to identify which of the four stress types best describes you. We also offer practical ways you can reverse the effects of stress by changing your diet, exercise and relaxation routines. Read on.

If the holidays tend to...

  • Make you turn to food for comfort
  • Leave you feeling deeply fatigued, achy and full of pains
  • Make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning

Then you're a HypoS Stress Type and you are extremely sensitive to stress and likely prone to autoimmune disorders.

To combat you should:

  • Go nuts over chocolate To boost your brain and calm stress eat a handful of walnuts and a piece of dark chocolate. Walnuts are full of omega-3s, essential fatty acids that elevate the mood, and tryptophan, an amino acid that when combined with dark chocolate, provides your brain with the soothing effects of the beloved anti-stress messenger, serotonin.
  • Reset your internal clock A good night's sleep - the best stress reducer- can be easily compromised when holiday traveling finds you in new time zones. Eastward travelers should expose themselves to bright light in the early morning and dim the lights in the evening. If you are going west, expose yourself to sunlight in the late afternoon and evening and try to stay awake until it gets dark. Strategic exposure to light can help you reduce the effects of jet lag or avoid it all together.
  • Eat fish Foods that are rich in the essential fatty acids we call omega-3s lift your mood. A daily dose of a fish oil supplement or if you're vegetarian, flax seed oil, will also do the trick.
  • Keep Good Company Pause often to spend time with friends and family. Appreciate them actively. The joy we get from bonding with loved ones comes from oxytocin and dopamine, important neutralizing hormones in the brain that provide major stress relief for women of your type.

If the holidays tend to ...

  • Make your mind spin out of control when you consider all you have to do
  • Drive you into a constant state of panic about time and deadlines
  • Leave you lying awake at night ruminating over finances and to-do lists

Then you are a HyperS Stress Type and prone to tension headaches and more susceptible to viruses and infections.
To combat you should...

  • Drink tea Warm up with green or white tea instead of coffee. Caffeine from tea creates a sense of calm alertness, less jarring than caffeine in coffee. You might also try Kombucha, a naturally fermented tea rich in probiotics. It is immune boosting and could help stave off illness during a time when we are vulnerable to colds and flu.
  • Put the Pressure on After a long day on your feet fighting holiday crowds, give yourself a deep foot massage with lavender oil. The pressure from the massage will release oxytocin - a hormone that is capable of buffering your fight or flight response - into your brain and body. The sweet scent of lavender also activates the parasympathetic part of your nervous system that allows you to recover more quickly from stress.
  • Reprogram your playlist Music sends important anti-stress signals to all parts of your body and can help relieve that seasonally induced tension. We program our iPods with upbeat holiday music and carry them at all times, sometimes just stopping for a five-minute one-song break. Here's our list of holiday songs to lift those waning spirits

                  o "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" by Jack Johnson

                  o "Baby Please Come Home" by U2

                  o "So This is Christmas" by John Lennon

                  o "When I Get Home for Christmas" by Snow Patrol

                  o "All I want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey

                  o "Grown Up Christmas List" by Amy Grant

                  o "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by the Pretenders

                  o "A Great Big Sled" by The Killers

If the holidays tend to...

  • Make you rush to get everything done to prepare, then when the actual holiday comes you're too tired to celebrate
  • Lead you to take on everything yourself without asking for help and ultimately leave you zapped
  • Make you overemotional and irritable about little things

Then you are a HyperP Stress Type and more susceptible to performance incompetence and burn out. This is a stress rebound response that is less associated with disease than the other types, because it resolves with rest and care.
To combat you should...

  • Power up with protein Eating foods like fish, chicken, nuts, and eggs that packed with the amino acid, tyrosine, can prevent the crash states that occur when stress is temporarily relieved. Tyrosine is needed to make the all-important stimulating neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.
  • Chill out, sister Take a break from your heavy exercise routine to allow your body to replenish completely. If you want to move do gentler exercise--take a walk, practice hatha yoga or go for an easy swim.
  • Take vitamins Your type becomes much more susceptible to colds and flu when you crash, so take large doses of vitamin C (75-3000mg per day) and moderate doses of Zinc (10-30mg per day) to fortify your immune system.

If the holidays tend to...

  • Make you feel withdrawn and detached from your commitments
  • Lead you to avoid holiday parties and even when you do go you feel uncomfortable and prefer to sit by yourself or cling to a friend
  • Leave you feeling helpless and passive when it comes to dealing with adversity

Then you are a HypoP Stress Type. You have a great difficulty in expressing your feelings are more susceptible to stomach cramps, aches and pains during emotional situations.

To combat you should:

  • Plan ahead Buy a separate organizer to plan your calendar and track of your To-Dos for the holidays. Writing your thoughts in advance will help you to control and manage anxieties, and will reduce those last minute worries about having forgotten something important. While you're at it, build in time for exercise and relaxation, too.
  • Keep a Journal When the cramps hit or you feel the need to withdraw, journal about what has happened during the day and see if your physical symptoms connect with your emotional patterns. Simply making these mind/body connections has been shown to relieve the stomach cramps. It can help bring you out of your shell too.
  • See The Light Spend more time outdoors in natural sunlight in the morning to help elevate your mood. This will help synchronize the circadian rhythms - the internal biological clock that regulates your sleep cycle -- your temperature regulation, and your endocrine system.

So Stressed is out from Free Press in January, 2010 and available for pre order at