Updated: Sep 28, 2018
The beginning of November marked National Stress Awareness Day and it was with that in mind that I considered the effects of stress on the body and mind, particularly in the run up to Christmas!
Periods of stress can strike at any time of year but the anxiety and panic that sometimes creeps in as we approach the Festive period may leave even the steadiest of us overwhelmed and exhausted.
So what is it that causes us so much stress?
Is it the expectation from loved one?
The demands of our children wanting the next big thing?
The financial implications?
Could it be the endless hours of wrapping or the dashing round Marks & Spencers to find the first turkey you can lay your hands on?
Sometimes stress is more internal.
Were you hoping to be slimmer for that Christmas party?
Is the pressure of running around trying to make everyone happy just too much?
Stress causes our cortisol levels to rise and this in turn often leaves us craving starchy, sugary foods which ironically are probably the last thing your body needs.
Fortunately, there are some ways to reduce your stress levels!
Include some of these top stress busting foods into your diet wherever possible….
When eating fruit choose berries, they contain lots of vitamin C which works to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels in your body, leading to a calmer you.
Eat oily fish, a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids helps to keep cortisol and adrenalin from spiking at times of tension.
Include those leafy greens in your meals wherever possible, rich in folate, they help your body to produce mood stabilising neurotransmitters.
Oats have to be one of the the greatest comfort foods, but luckily for us they cause our brains to release serotonin too. I would always recommend choosing organic, steel-cut oats as these are the least processed type.
Avocados are one of natures most nutritious foods. Rich in protein and B vitamins, it is an ideal fruit to be eaten at times of stress. It is thought anxiety may be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency.
Stress is known to drain the body of magnesium, leaving us deficient. When you take an Epsom Salt bath the magnesium in the salts absorbs through your skin to replenish your levels and promote feelings of relaxation and wellbeing. It will also help improve your quality of sleep.
If you haven’t tried this yet, then you’re in for a real treat as these indulgent baths will help you to feel calm and relaxed. The Epsom Salt Council recommend adding 0.25 to 0.50 litres of Epsom Salts per bath, but if it’s new to you perhaps start with a smaller dose and work up. Epsom Salts are available at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Top Tips for The Festive Season
Don’t try to diet – Be realistic and set a maintenance goal instead, then you will enjoy yourself without the pressure.
Plan your food – Make sure you have plenty healthy foods available. For those of you who have done one of my plans you will have some easy to make recipes to hand on in-between days.
Continue to exercise – If classes have stopped over Christmas brisk walk/run/swim/home workout video.
Never go to a party hungry – Have a low sugar high protein snack before you go, this will prevent any urges for sugar.
Make good alcohol choices – avoid creamy or sweet drinks and try to drink with food as it will slow down the impact of the sugars on your blood stream.
Drink plenty of water – This will encourage you not to overeat and it will also improve how you will feel the next day.
Be gentle with yourself and have fun! – If you do happen to over indulge, enjoy whatever you are indulging in and get back on track afterwards.