Many factors can cause stress during the holidays, from unrealistic expectations and financial pressures to excessive commitments.
The truth is, some stress is normal ... but chronic stress can wreak havoc on your hormones, which can result in weight gain (especially unhealthy belly fat). It can also take a significant toll on your health, paving the way for illness and disease, but it was never clear HOW it played a role until recently. “Chronic psychological stress” can affect your body’s ability to regulate its inflammatory response because cortisol (your body’s key stress hormone) plays a role in controlling inflammation (the common root of many diseases).
Despite some stress being normal, “pushing through” is often the very WORST thing you can do to get through a challenging period since it can keep your stress hormones elevated. The good news is, you can take back control to calm your body and ease your mind.
Here are four ways to help you deal with stress…during the holidays or anytime!
1. Try mindful breathing.
Take note of your breathing and track the feeling of inhaling and exhaling. Concentrate on the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen with each breath.
After a few breaths, take a slightly deeper breath. Try to focus on your breathing and if you get distracted, redirect your attention back to your breath.
One of many calming techniques is Box Breathing. It involves controlling both breathing in AND out as well as holding your breath. It’s called “box” breathing because you do each part of the breath for an equal amount of 4 counts as if you are breathing around the sides of a square.
- To start, sit up straight in a chair, feet flat on the floor.
- Next, slowly exhale through your mouth as much air as you possibly can, for a total of 4 counts.
- Now, hold your breath for four counts,
- Then, gently and slowly breathe in through your nose for four counts.
- And then hold your breath again for four counts.
2. Practice gratitude and abundance.
Allow yourself to feel grateful, embrace change, think BIG, stay positive, and believe there is “plenty to go around.”
Psychology research has shown that experiencing and expressing gratitude is strongly (and consistently) linked to higher happiness levels, better physical health, and optimism. Recognizing and being grateful for what you have - versus always wanting something more - allows you to feel thankful and positive about your own life.
Gratitude creates positive emotions, decreases stress and depression, improves health, and allows you to feel more prepared to handle the challenges in life - and relationships! With gratitude, we can recognize and relish the positive experiences in life. And we can even appreciate challenges or negative experiences and be grateful for the opportunity to grow!
3. Try some herbs.
L-Theanine has been considered a natural stress buster. It is an amino acid that can be found in green tea. Studies have shown that L-Theanine has a soothing property that produces calming benefits.
Bacopa extract is another great one. This extract is said to help naturally reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Lavender is known to have a natural soothing and sedative effect on your central nervous system. You can drink lavender tea, use lavender essential oil, or keep a lavender plant in your home. Lemon balm also has the same properties as Lavender!
Be sure to check out RESTOR. It has a combination of L-Theanine, Bacopa, and Lemon Balm, among other ingredients.
4. Get enough sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can affect everything from your mood, appetite, focus, productivity, performance, general health, workout recovery to even your waistline. It’s all connected!
A study by UC Berkeley found that the type of sleep most apt to calm and reset our anxious brain is deep sleep, so aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night!
If you have problems sleeping, make sure you are practicing good sleep hygiene, meaning turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed, keep your bedroom cool (68 degrees) and dark, and try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
Beyond that, you might consider certain nutrients like chamomile. Chamomile has an abundance of apigenin antioxidants, which can be rather calming.
During the holidays, stress can ruin your holidays and hurt your health in the long haul. However, being realistic, planning ahead, and trying one of the techniques mentioned above can help ward off stress and be the best gift you can give yourself and the people who’ll share the holiday season with you.
About the Author: Brittinie Wick is an Air Force Veteran turned Health and Fitness Coach who founded Brittinie Wick Fitness. Her mission is to empower all women, through fitness and nutrition, to gain confidence, lose weight, and celebrate the feeling of strong and sexy. Grab her “Healthy at Every Age” guide! This ebook is aimed at people just like you, who want to live their BEST, MOST ACTIVE life, starting TODAY and continuing deep into the future!