Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Holiday Stress Busters

I've seen a couple of naturopaths this last year. They now send a monthly newsletter and I got the following from it. Their website is: Head to Heal

Holiday Stress Busters
The holidays: fun for some, nerve-wracking for others. Last minute shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, socializing, eating, family get-togethers, all on top of our regular routines and responsibilities can take their toll. It's no wonder people find the holidays exhausting, to say the least. Stress is no joke. Physicians have long known that unmitigated stress lowers immune function, triggers inflammation, increases the risk for chronic health concerns such as cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases and can lead to depression.
Most people take this time to let loose and enjoy. However, it's especially important to give your body some added support to weather the demands of the season and ring in a healthy new year. Here are some simple tools that you can use to help lessen the strain that often comes with celebrating the holidays.

Sleep: sleep deprivation is a well-known contributing factor in obesity as well as other chronic health conditions. However, over-sleeping is just as unhealthy as lack of sleep. Try to make sure you get to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. This helps establish a natural sleep pattern. Sleep in a dark room to maximize melatonin production.
Delegate: remember that stress sets in when you try and do it all. Ask for help and prioritize.
Avoid 'stress eating': our brains require more energy when stressed. When you're pressed for time, it's easy to forget what your naturopathic doctor told you about reaching for convenience foods. Processed and sugary foods cause insulin levels to spike which compounds your body's perception of stress. Choose foods that lower the Glycemic Index of your meals and snacks. These are foods high in fiber, protein and good fats. They will stabilize your energy levels, your mood and support immune function.

Breathe: what's the first thing we do when we're distracted? We stop breathing! Well, not quite, but our breathing becomes significantly more shallow. When this happens, our blood is not getting fully oxygenated, compromising our body's ability to get the energy it needs to carry out its basic functions. Taking slow deep breaths is the quickest and easiest way to engage the 'rest and digest' branch of our nervous system. When you think of it or notice the signs of stress take a deep breath in while counting to six. Then slowly exhale through pursed lips, again, while counting to six, better yet, ten. At some point, during this exhalation you will notice that your shoulders drop and release their tension. Your body will thank you.
End your shower with a blast of cold water: we know it’s last thing you want to do on a cold, wintery, Saskatchewan morning. However, this simple trick can go a long way to improving the quality of your blood, your circulation and mental alertness.

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