Life is stressful. No matter what you do, there will always be deadlines, inconveniences, time crunches, and negative interactions with others. This is especially true during the holiday season. This is the time of year when stress can be overwhelming. And it can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. There’s no way to completely avoid it, however there are some things you can do to reduce it. Here are a few stress-reducing tips to help you get through the holidays – or any time of year – without turning to food for comfort.
1. Plan. Allow enough time to do the things you need to get done. Don’t cut yourself short on time as this will cause undue stress. Simply plan ahead. And don’t forget to make time for eating. Missing meals and snacks is a sure fire way to gain weight.
2. Discriminate. Rather than focusing on the negative, choose to focus on the positive aspects of your life; and keep things in perspective. Be thankful for family, friends, and loved ones who have a positive influence on you; and share your feelings of gratitude. Not only will this have a calming effect on you, it will make others feel good, too.
3. Laugh. Make a point to laugh every day. Laughter has a powerful effect on health and well-being. It relieves tension and stress, strengthens the immune system, elevates mood, and provides a quick energy boost. So the next time you feel stressed, have a good laugh. It relieves stress better than food and it won’t cause weight gain.
4. Socialize. Spend time with people who give you a sense of belonging and purpose, and have some fun with them. This type of meaningful interaction can provide all the stress relief you need.
5. Sleep. Adequate sleep can enhance well-being and decrease irritability and stress. It’s extremely important to maintain a sleep routine in order to perform your best on a daily basis. Furthermore, research shows that if you don’t sleep enough you are much more likely to overeat and gain weight.
6. Breathe. Breathing deeply and completely is one of the most effective stress reducers there is. Not only is it relaxing, deep breathing has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on immunity and digestion both of which are important in maintaining a healthy weight.
7. Exercise. Exercise is known to boosts endorphins; and when your endorphins are high, you cope better with stress. Something as simple as a 20-minute walk around the block can boost your mood for up to 12 hours. Another added benefit of exercise is that it will rev up your metabolism throughout the rest of the day helping you to burn calories and lose weight.
8. Eat. Last but not least, eat regularly and make healthy choices. Research shows that the combination of a poor diet and psychological stress can cause increases in body fat, especially around the midsection. This can lead to health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes. Don’t let this happen to you. Eat three to four balanced meals spread out over the course of the day. Aim to get most of your calories from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy products and healthy fats. This will keep your blood sugar stable, your brain alert, and your energy level up. You will be ready to deal with stressful situations as they occur.
Bottom line: Take care of yourself during the holiday season and into the New Year. When life gets hectic, it can be tempting to put yourself last. But it’s important to prioritize what’s most important – your health and well-being. Be kind to yourself. Nourish your mind, your body, and your spirit every day.