November 2014 | Newsletter archives
Don’t stress: Stay holiday healthy
By Eva Cwynar
November has arrived and it’s a race to the end of the year. I saw something online the other day that showed the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, explaining the basics to Cinderella: At the stroke of midnight, Halloween is over and Christmas carols start. I laughed, but I also realized it was very true. The stores are filled with all things holiday, including music. It is a wonderful time of year, filled with joy but it can also lead to stress.
Stress is actually a normal physical reaction to internal or external pressure. The body is flooded with stress hormones which make the heart beat faster, the breathing rate increase and the muscles to tense. This is your body’s way of gearing up for imminent physical activity. There is also emotional stress that doesn’t allow the body to release stress hormones, and so they build up inside. This can lead to back pain, headaches, irritability and anxiety. It can even lead to heart disease.
External stressors can be caused by traffic jams or holiday shopping on a tight schedule; internal stressors happen because of our emotions. Both are inevitable and normal. During the holidays both become even more pronounced, with too much shopping, too much eating, drinking and partying. Don’t ignore the signs of stress like insomnia, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, poor judgment, negative thinking, worry and feelings of worthlessness.
There are ways you can minimize the stress and depression that often accompany the holidays.
Get physical: Walking, dancing and yoga can help relieve the buildup of stress hormones in the body and help you relax.
Use your mind: Mediation, art and even playing music can help reduce stress.
Get connected: Relieve stress by talking to a close friend or family member.
Eat well: Build stamina by eating fruit and vegetables, even at parties. Reduce coffee intake to reduce anxiety and insomnia. Whole grains are also good to help produce serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that can make you feel better.
When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. But trying to prevent stress and depression, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past, can help.
Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you may find you can make the holidays even better than ever. Bring on the peace and joy … and music!
How to eat healthy at the holidays
Maintain. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays, but do try to maintain your current weight.
Exercise. In addition to helping keep your metabolism moving in the right direction, it can also help relieve holiday stress. Just a 10 – 15 minute walk twice a day goes a long way.
Eat. Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a light snack like raw vegetables before you leave for a party, you’ll curb your appetite and be less tempted to over-eat.
Drink. But sparingly. Alcohol can make you over-eat; and sugary beverages are just that – full of calories.
Cook. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating.