The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, cheer and good eats. Most of us spend the holidays eating and drinking with family and friends. Although you’ll see smiles, hear laughter and savor the flavors of the season, there are some exciting things occurring within our bodies.
We’ve selected four sensations your body will go through on Christmas to tell you how your body reacts to each emotion or substance. Whether you’re walking on eggshells around a relative or just had a little too much eggnog, get ready to put your body through an inner—and sometimes outer—physical roller coaster ride.
Chances are you will most likely be enjoying an alcoholic beverage during your Christmas celebration. Whether you decide to have one glass of wine for the night or have two glasses of wine per hour, your body is reacting to the organic matter and chemical makeup of your drink.
Alcohol is a depressant, or a “downer,” which means it slows down the central nervous system. According to Brown University, alcohol will cause “a decrease in motor coordination, reaction time and intellectual performance.” This is all known information to most of us who have had our share of crazy college nights.
Once you take a drink of that wine, small blood vessels located in the stomach and small intestine will carry the alcohol through the bloodstream. Your liver will metabolize and break down the alcohol, which is why many hard drinkers develop cirrhosis of the liver. Over time, alcohol abuse can cause kidney damage, heart disease and other serious physical illnesses.
Every one ounce of liquor, or one standard drink, will take one hour to metabolize. If you’ll be driving after your Christmas festivities, it’s best to stick to one standard drink per hour or use the BAC chart found on the university’s website. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so keep the drinking to a minimum to avoid acting like a drunken fool on Christmas Day.
While many of us associate Christmas with happiness, love and merriment, a large percentage of people feel social anxiety this time of year. The chaos of a full house, distant (and possibly judgmental) relatives and social pressure can take its toll on a person. But how do our bodies react to anxiety?
According to WebMD, anxiety triggers the body to pump more adrenaline. Your body is trying to determine “the challenge” of anxiety and switches to survival mode, or “fight or flight” mode.
Now, your body has tapped into the sympathetic nervous system, which then releases “stress hormones,” such as cortisol, which can cause physical reactions. Do you feel your mouth getting dry, a feeling of nausea or the sensation of sweat coming on? Those are your stress hormones at work.
Chronic anxiety can lead to severe physical ailments, so if you feel anxious more often than not, it’s probably best to see a doctor.
You’re presented with a beautifully-wrapped gift. The ends of your lips curl up and you can feel an intense excitement. What exactly is going on here?
Interestingly enough, your body is reacting the same way it does when you’re anxious or nervous.
Per British interactive health clinic MedClick, your nervous system just triggered the “fight or flight” syndrome, in which adrenaline is released and causes our heart rate and breathing to accelerate. Your digestive system stops and your blood vessels contract to allow more blood flow to the muscles. Your pupils dilate and both your tear and saliva glands stop secreting.
So, just open the present. Once you know what you received, you should relax and your body should start functioning as normal.
Sweets are a huge part of the holidays. With plenty pies, cakes, sugary drinks and Santa’s cookies, you might end Christmas dinner on a sugar rush.
According to Self, this sugary treat will cause: tooth enamel loss; a spike of pancreas-pumped insulin in the bloodstream; the production of serotonin, dopamine and other neurochemicals; and store left over glucose flowing through the bloodstream as fat and fructose as blood fat.
About two hours after ingesting your sweet treat, you’ll feel a dip in energy, due to an insulin and blood glucose level drop.
So, if you want to prevent this roller coaster ride, keep the sugary treats at minimum or opt for a fresh fruit instead.