The Seasonal Stress Survival Guide

christmas

Before you know it, another year has flown by and the supermarkets are stocking their Christmas supplies. You turn on the TV and you are bombarded with Christmas advertising. It’s a constant reminder of where are you going to find the time and cash to buy all the presents this year. A few months earlier, you thought it would be a good idea to host Christmas dinner for everyone.  However, thinking about everyone’s food preferences adds to the ever mounting stress surrounding what should be a joyful time.

The Lowdown on Stress

Severe stress can be extremely harmful and damaging for our bodies. A normal level of stress is healthy and is a natural response when we are ‘under attack’. When our bodies are in a ‘fight or flight’ mode, a mixture of stress hormones and chemicals such as, adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine are released to prepare the body for physical action. We get a rush of energy, our heart beats faster and our breathing speeds up. We become more alert and ready for action.

Today, the pressure of juggling your career, relationships and everyday life can produce added stress.  Added stress subjects our body to an unhealthy, constant release of stress hormones. In this constant state of stress we lose the ability to think clearly and make rational decisions.  Research has shown that elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our blood can lead to weight gain, increased blood sugar levels and lowered libido.

Take a deep breath.

Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones celebrate Christmas with as little stress as possible.

1. Plan

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

Simply knowing what you are going to cook on the big day will ensure that your stress levels are kept low.  Spend a couple of hours one day to plan.  Know your budget and plan around it.  If you don’t plan your recipes and shopping lists, you may go way over your budget causing more stress.  Planning ensures you know exactly what to get and easily follow your chosen recipes. You can calmly walk around that supermarket and make smart decisions.

2. Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals will lead to a drop in our blood sugar levels.  When we go through long periods without food, our bodies think that we are essentially starving.  We will end up with higher amounts of stress, craving highly fatty and sugary foods and overeating at our next meal.  Don’t abandon your usual and healthy habits.  Regularly eat healthy and balanced meals. If you prepare your meals ahead of time, you will always have the right food with you at the right time.

christmas

3. Exercise

Exercise is a great, free and natural way to combat the effects of stress.  Exercising releases happy hormones called endorphins, which act as a natural pain killer.  In addition, it helps promote better sleep quality which in turn lowers our stress levels. Exercise has been proven to be one of the best remedies and natural ways to lessen the amount of stress we feel.  This Christmas, why not use your 8fit app and aim to do an 8fit workout at least 4 times a week.  The benefits are endless.  You might find yourself making better decisions, being more clear headed and a happier person to be around.

4. Have fun

Tis the season to be jolly! Remember the true meaning of Christmas.  It’s easy to get lost in all the materialism.  Be thankful for what you have and your friends and family. Have fun! Enjoy yourself and enjoy the big day with your loved ones. Smiling and laughter have been proved to reduce stress. Smiling relaxes the facial muscles and calms the nervous system, while laughing sends more oxygen to the brain.

So go on, exercise, eat well and prepare yourself for a wonderful stress free Christmas.  You deserve it and your friends and family will thank you for it.

Yours in health and 8fitness,

Alice

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