Stress can be a powerful and often unnoticed force in your life. It can influence weight, mental health, quality of sleep, and have effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and the immune system. When chronic stress is present, a hormone called cortisol is released which increases glucose in the bloodstream. This increase in glucose is the reason you are more likely to reach for a doughnut or cookie during stressful times. There is typically no shortage of stressful situations (and sweets) during the holiday season. But the good news is, you can manage it. Take away the effect that stress has on your life with these strategies:
- Ensure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night. You can tackle almost anything life throws your way after a good night’s sleep.
- Take a few moments for yourself. Clear your mind by listening to your favorite song or podcast or read a few pages of a good book.
- Exercise. All types of exercise have been shown to reduce stress. Stretching and meditating exercises such as yoga or Tai Chi are excellent ways to distance yourself from the stress and refocus your mind. Cardio exercises release endorphins which can create positive feelings.
- Breathe. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. See our tips on mindful breathing.
Take some time out of your day right now to pause and do a quick activity that will relieve stress. Some ideas for quick stress relievers can be found here.
During times of stress, eating a healthy, balanced diet is perhaps even more important to support your body’s needs. Here at Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less, we love to eat the Med way! A Mediterranean-style eating pattern is an evidence-based approach to a lifestyle of healthy eating. For more information and resources, check out medinsteadofmeds.com.
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