Feeling stressed has physical impacts on the body. It increases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol releasing sugar into the blood and reducing your body’s ability to relax and digest food properly. If you are prone to Christmas over-indulgence this can also lead to unwanted weight gain. It also decreases your immune system’s ability to deal with winter infections.
Christmas can also be an enjoyable time so how can you best look after yourself and reduce the anxiety and exhaustion?
Top tips to feel better over the Christmas period.
Try and eat regularly and don’t overeat or snack late at night
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables to increase your intake of nutrients that reduce stress and strengthen your immune system.
Fruit salads full of fresh berries are a good alternative to a pudding full of sugar and saturated fat. Snacking on carrot, celery and bell pepper strips dipped in homemade guacamole and hummus make for a healthy snack and help up your vegetable intake. Aim for 7-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Eat oily fish such as salmon, trout, herring mackerel and tuna as omega 3 puts your body in rest and digest mode. A handful of walnuts, almonds and pistachios a day also provide a source of good fats.
Too much alcohol, caffeine and sugar will increase your stress hormones.
Alcohol – drink wine with meals but avoid on an empty stomach. If you are out, replace every other drink with water and have some alcohol free days over the holidays.
Caffeine – constantly drinking coffee, tea or cola may appear to keep you going but the effect is very short-lived and you will find yourself drinking more and more. Try replacing some black tea and coffee with herbal teas that are caffeine free or green tea which has less caffeine contains antioxidents and is good for stabilising energy.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates are everywhere at this time of year, digested quickly but the effect is short lived. You can quickly make very simple sweet nibbles that have longer term satisfaction for example from blending dates and nuts and making little balls If you bake you can reduce the amount of sugar a recipe suggests - no one will notice - and replace the sugar you do use with natural substitutes, for example Xylitol and stevia that don’t stay in the body contributing towards weight gain. Dates, apples and bananas can substitute for sugar adding fibre that slows the digestion of sugars.
Take some exercise – a 20 minute walk every day if you can helps improve your mood and your digestion. If you normally exercise regularly try and keep this up over the holidays
It is important to take time to yourself to rest and relax. Ask others to help if chores need doing.
Try a magnesium salts bath. This gives the calming benefits of magnesium and well earned peace and quiet.
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Do look after your health over the Christmas period.