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Be Blessed, Not Stressed

Healthy Lifestyle

The effects of holiday stress

This is a magical time of year, but also can be the most stressful too. 

Stress can take an emotional and physical toll on your body. A person who is stressed makes poor decisions and is unable to concentrate and stay focused on goals. When you are stressed, you feel tired, may have uncontrollable eating, and eat foods that you feel will help “fix” your mood. Stress hormones can lead to more body fat and extra weight gain, too. We are also more prone to colds and flu when our immune system is suppressed from stress. 

Five ways to control your stress 

  1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Nutrition strongly influences how you handle stress. Eating foods higher in sodium, saturated fat and added sugar may cause inflammation, leading to stress and disease. Eat whole grains, low- fat dairy, lean meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit and healthier fats, such as avocados and olive oil to keep your body fueled. Reducing caffeine and alcohol during the holidays may also help lower stress. 
  2. Stay active. By getting your daily movement in and exercising, you can benefit from the “feel good” endorphins that decrease feelings of depression and help your body deal with stress. Exercise will allow you to detach from a crazy day, create beneficial changes in your brain, and increase memory and learning performance. 
  3. Get adequate sleep. Sleep is when our body recovers and repairs itself. A good night's rest allows you the ability to tackle stress more easily. When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated, which increases stress. 
  4. Learn to say NO. If you say “yes” and participate in every activity or project, you are at risk of burnout and resentment. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Take care of yourself and don’t get overwhelmed. 
  5. Keep it simple. Ask for everyone to bring a dish if you are hosting an event at your home. Stay within your budget and just enjoy the company of your family. Everything does not have to be perfect. You can’t be everywhere and need to be understanding of others if they don’t live up to your expectations. This is a time of joy and celebration.

Enjoy the holidays!

Think of the holidays as an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, celebrating the past year and looking forward to a new year starting. The combination of shopping, entertaining, attending social events can become overwhelming. 

Minimize your stress, relax a bit and enjoy this festive time of year. You may not be able to eliminate the stress completely, but learn to manage it, focus on your blessings and keep a smile on your face. 

Brenda Herrod

About the Author:

Brenda Herrod is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about inspiring and sharing her healthy lifestyle with others.

She is also an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach, and Precision Nutrition Health Coach working with employees at Methodist Health System.

See More Articles by Brenda Herrod