by Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD
For many of us, the holidays are as stressful as they are joyful. These weeks are filled with family gatherings, eating temptations and special occasions. Add COVID-19 to the mix and this holiday season’s stress levels may be at an all-time high.
Stress can have serious repercussions on your health. If you are feeling the world on your shoulders, try some of these lifestyle tips to relax and get a good night's rest.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to help alleviate stress after just eight weeks of a regular practice. Meditation has been shown to ultimately reprogram the brain to become more open and less reactive and better able to cope when life’s stressors start accumulating. Not sure where to start.
Try these tips:
Simply sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes, breath naturally and focus your attention on your breath. Try to maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start. Try a YouTube meditation video for at least 15 minutes and try to follow along before you go to bed or first thing when you wake up.
Try an app. There are several apps such as Calm and Headspace that can help you start your meditation practice.
Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth slowly at least 6 times when you start to feel stress.
Exercise is not only good for your waistline and your heart, it is also one of the best ways to alleviate stress. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly.
Exercise can also improve your sleep and a rested mind is a more peaceful mind. Think you have to go the gym and sweat it out? Not at all. Just go for a walk, dance or ride your bike. Any activity such as walking or jogging that involves repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be very stress relieving.
Eat to Reduce Stress
Foods can help reduce stress in many ways. They can help calm you by releasing serotonin, strengthen your immune system, and fight depression. Some of the best foods to combat stress are whole grains, citrus fruits, salmon or other foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as chia seeds or flaxseeds, nuts, dark leafy greens, avocados and warm beverages such as herbal tea.
A diet full of salt, sugar and refined carbs can make coping with stress even worse.
Whatever you choose to cope with stress this season, just remember that self-care is one of the best gifts you can give to fully enjoy the holiday season.
Try this stress-relieving recipe: